Got Urgency? Tips on Banishing Complacency

Last Updated Apr 2, 2009 10:48 AM EDT

The Takeaway: With plenty of execs getting the boot these days, many new managers are going to have to step in and try and turn around troubled companies. But what if the atmosphere they find is less than charged up and ready for a change? How can a new leader instill that sense of urgency in her team? Ciampa insists there are principles that can help you get your company unstuck and out of the mud. While acknowledging each organization is unique, he offers a few basic tips:
  • The top group must be of one mind on the diagnosis and the cure. While the leader must set the tone, the managers on her senior team must see things the same way so that they convey to their people messages that are consistent.
  • Don't avoid making changes at the top. Some senior-level people may have to be replaced in order for things to improve. This does not mean a wholesale makeover of the top team--often one powerful executive is enough.
  • Find examples from which to learn. There are always pockets inside the organization where the right kind of urgency lives in spite of the general culture. Finding them will offer homegrown examples to hold up as models as well as people who might be able to export what they have done locally to other areas of the organization. Equally important: visiting other companies where behavior is more urgent.
  • Eliminate fear. Especially in the early days, there may be hesitancy to experiment or to take up the leader's challenge to try new behavior.
  • Get the right help, and use it wisely. Every leader faced with the task discussed here needs help....most new leaders are not discriminating enough as they seek help and fail to define precisely enough the types of advice needed and the kinds of advisers best suited to their particular needs.
For a much more detailed explanation of these ideas, check out Ciampa's lengthy article.

The Question: What's your best tip on how to give complacent employees a needed kick in the pants?

(Image of truck stuck in the mud by NeilsPhotography, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.