Just the other day I had a CEO share with me that he wants his team to hustle more.
He wants them to experience an overall sense of urgency – believing that this will lead to better productivity and outcomes. He then put in place the slippery slope of an incentive program.
Urgency alone creates frantic, frenetic, scattered activity that results in missed opportunities and mistakes. Hustling (synonyms include rush, hurry, bulldoze and shove), working “harder” and doing more will rarely get you better outcomes. You’ll tend to get more of the same with a possible slight uptick – for the short-term. Before your team burns out or starts looking for unauthorized shortcuts.
Instead consider energizing, emboldening and empowering your team.
- ENERGIZE: Beyond providing great coffee, know that sustainable urgency requires an important purpose – a memorable meaningful mission. WHY does it matter if I get this done today vs. tomorrow? How does this make a real difference out there in the world? If you feel like your organization doesn’t make a real difference – or you’re unclear on your memorable meaningful mission – read this section from Culture Works.
- EMBOLDEN: Don’t just do more. Of the same. Disrupt the way you’ve always done things. What could REALLY make the difference in what you’re accomplishing together? Challenge your entire team to submit their suggestions for innovative breakthrough transformative ideas – including ideas that would expand on what’s already working. (FYI – This could include completely revamping one of your sacred cow systems.) Work smarter, not harder.
- EMPOWER: After you provide the guardrails, give your team autonomy over their work. Then let them run like the wind. Don’t micromanage, instead simply measure what matters. Treat, speak to, and listen your team like the amazing committed contributors they already are – because that’s who your team IS. They don’t need incentive programs. They don’t need manipulation or cajoling to do great work for a purpose they believe in. That’s who they are. That’s the shared identity and pride of your organization.
While there will be times for your team to step it up and sprint, ultimately you want a team that’s productive and not just “busy doing stuff” – a team who’s thoughtful, responsive and completing critical items. “Being busy is not the same as being productive. Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important and uncomfortable actions.” Tim Ferriss