How to Ensure Your Team Reacts to Urgent Requests

As head of your company you have a clear strategy, and know exactly what needs to be done – and when – to ensure this is achieved. If you’re like most people, however, you’ll have found that it’s hard to always galvanise your team into responding to urgent requests, even when you know there’s a lot at stake. There are several reasons for this behaviour, and it has nothing to do with how often your employees have been with you, or how hard they work. It may be hard to hear, but the reason for your employees’ behaviour is usually YOU.

Picture this: your employee gets into the office, opens up their email and finds five messages with red flags, or ‘urgent’ signs, attached. For the first day, even the first week, they might respond to these with lightning speed, but after a while they get ‘urgency fatigue’. Having realised that not instantly responding to the red flag produces no tangible negative consequences, employees come to ignore it and proceed with their work as they see fit.

This also happens with communications in person: if you spend every meeting assigning deadlines and over-stressing urgency, your staff will become numb to it and assume that nothing is ever ‘really’ urgent. So how do you get staff to focus on deliverables and respond to urgent requests?

Change your communication style
If you say that everything is urgent, staff will assume that this is simply the result of bad planning. Start communicating earlier on in the process, and share project timelines to ensure everyone can see the full scope of the plan.

Be accountable
Include your own tasks in project timelines and communications, to ensure your employees know that there’s as much at stake for you as there is for them. They’ll be happy to know they’re not the only ones working late, and feel much more like they’re part of a dynamic team that contributes directly to the company’s success.

Don’t rely on email
It may be quicker, but simply sending an urgent email to all employees is not the way to achieve best results. Instead, meet with team leaders to get their buy in for the project – however urgent – and leave it to them to cascade tasks and enthusiasm down to other employees. Ask for feedback too – they may have ideas on how the task can be better completed.

Ensure you sell the ‘why’
You have authority as head of your company, but even a direct order from the CEO only carries limited weight. It might make employees complete a task, but they’ll work much better, and be much more motivated, if they understand why it needs to be done. Always explain what the results of the task will be, and why it needs to be done in a set timeframe. If something has gone wrong, be honest.

Follow these steps, and cut down on those red flags, and you should find yourself with a more engaged workforce who react promptly to urgent requests. Good luck!