False urgency, or a scenario in which a sense of urgency is artificially created or exaggerated, forces an immediate reactionary response. This disregard for context, credible information and responsibility sets up employees for failure.
Fortunately there is a way to avoid this situation, says Nicol Myburgh, head of the CRS Technologies HCM business unit.
One of the biggest problems with false urgency is that it triggers a response from people who act impulsively and usually because of half-truths, fake news and hearsay, he says, and CRS Technologies research shows that this trend can completely change a positive, innovative and creative business culture and turn it into a toxic environment.
“What we have to remember is that the wellbeing of workers, particularly their mental health, is now more of a priority in the workplace. Human resource managers and decision makers were forced to face this dilemma, largely the result of Covid, so it stands to reason that if false urgency is allowed to fester, people will act under extreme and needless stress. That means little to no coordination, confusion, anxiety and a negative impact on productivity.”
In addition to the physical stress that employees feel, there is a very high risk of burnout and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed.
“This only adds to employee concern and worry, which means they are unable to perform at their best. The knock-on effect is that overall productivity is impacted, operations are run sporadically and not in tandem, which will impact the bottom line,” Myburgh says.
The burning question is why? Why would management or those responsible for leading an organisation and its people purposefully create an environment of anxiety and urgency for which there is no justification?
CRS Technologies believes the situation is really about any action being better than no action which leads to illogical action.
“During times of difficulty, when conditions in business are generally not favourable, managers tend to overreact and don’t always take into consideration all aspects and factors; they don’t always see the bigger picture. Consequently, the temptation is to act out and go into management overdrive, calling the shots and barking instructions without thought,” Myburgh adds.
Labour and human resource experts at CRS Technologies concur with general advice from industry and people development specialists for leaders to take the necessary time to analyse the situation properly before acting.
Additionally, it is important not to blow things out of proportion. “Our view is that business managers should isolate issues and keep them in context, and prevent a single issue spilling over into other areas of the business that have nothing to do with the issue in the first place,” says Myburgh.
Fundamentally, it is critical to distinguish between that which is urgent and requires immediate response, that which is urgent but can wait, and that which is not urgent. We have all heard of the 80/20 rule but putting it into practice isn’t always easy. A useful tool in this regard is a well thought out Eisenhower matrix.
“Doing this will help set up a priority list to help employees focus their efforts and ensure that their hard work pays off,” Myburgh concludes.