Best Ways to Counteract False Urgency Culture at Work

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, characterised by heightened connectivity and relentless competition, the need to work with a sense of urgency is more prevalent than ever. However, not all urgency is created equal. False urgency, often disguised as high initiative and activity, can be counterproductive, leading to stress and burnout among leaders and employees. In this article, we’ll explore the signs of false urgency and how leaders can address this issue within their teams while fostering a culture of true urgency.

We are more connected and agile than ever, working at high speed to stay on top of workloads and remain competitive. A sense of urgency and scarce time permeates every day.

However, too often, much of the frenetic activity in organisations is false urgency: unproductive busyness that doesn’t lead to meaningful progress. While false urgency has always existed to some degree, the pandemic, heightened connectivity, and the expectation for rapid responses have stealthily solidified its presence.

Of course, you want your team to act with genuine urgency about what matters most. But it’s easy to mistake false urgency for true urgency — both look like high initiative and activity. As stress and burnout in leaders and employees remain alarmingly high, leaders must recognise the distinction and root out false urgency from their teams.

Recognise the Signs

False urgency can insidiously infiltrate an organisation, even without deliberate intent. Leaders may unknowingly create an atmosphere of chronic overwhelm and reactivity, causing their teams to constantly respond to perceived crises. This continuous “jumping” between tasks can hinder meaningful progress and drain team energy. To identify false urgency, leaders should look for signs such as apologising for frequent fire drills, working on evenings and weekends, and receiving feedback to prioritise more effectively.

Pinpoint the Source of Urgency

Understanding the source of urgency is critical to distinguishing between genuine and false urgency. False urgency often stems from anxiety or fear of negative consequences. For instance, an employee may rush to complete a task out of the fear of disappointing clients or damaging relationships with senior executives. Leaders should introspect and question their motivations, reframing limiting beliefs that may contribute to false urgency. Encouraging respectful challenges and spirited debate can help shift the focus from anxiety-driven urgency to a more productive work environment.

Prioritise Ruthlessly

One of the challenges in addressing false urgency is prioritising the important over the urgent. Research indicates that humans tend to prioritise tasks with shorter deadlines, often neglecting more significant long-term goals. To overcome this, leaders can create psychological distance by imagining the situation from a future perspective or by considering what advice they would give to another team. Focusing on the potential gains of abandoning efforts that have already been invested in can also be an effective strategy.

Creating psychological distance is one technique that can help you stay focused on the big picture. Imagine physical distance, a separation in time, or that someone other than you is involved in the current situation. For example, you might ask yourself, “If I imagine it’s a year from now, what is the most important thing for us to do now?” Or “If this was someone else’s team, how would I advise them to prioritise what’s on their team’s plate?”

Additionally, deliberately focusing on the potential gains of abandoning ideas and endeavours into which you’ve already invested time, money, or effort. Ask yourself: “What are the advantages of discontinuing? What will it cost us if we don’t suspend our efforts?” It can be helpful to create reminders that subtraction is an advantageous option. Challenge your team to develop a list of everything they think the team could subtract or stop doing in the coming year.

Employ Strategic Procrastination

Procrastination, when used purposefully, can contribute to better outcomes. Strategic procrastination involves starting a task and gradually working on it over time to allow for deeper thinking and creativity to emerge. This approach may require resetting expectations and repatterning relationships with stakeholders to ensure more sustainable work practices.

This tactic may require resetting expectations and repatterning relationships with stakeholders, as it did for Ram. As Ram allowed himself and his team more time to complete stakeholder requests, he effectively managed their expectations by proactively communicating timelines and articulating the reasons for them. Over time, this reset stakeholder expectations and reduced their dependency on his team to quickly solve their problems, allowing for a more sustainable pace and often better final product.

Vet External Requests and Buffer Your Team Leaders

often face a deluge of external requests that may contribute to false urgency. It’s essential to shield the team from unnecessary pressure by evaluating the true urgency of these requests. Leaders can engage in discussions with stakeholders to consider trade-offs and strategic thinking before committing to new demands. Empower team members to question requests that have unrealistic timelines or fall outside their scope, and offer support in delivering “no” or “not now” responses to external stakeholders.

For example, let’s say your boss makes a new request of you or your team. While you want to show willingness, leaders are often unaware of the effort necessary to fulfil their demands and the trade-offs required. Rather than quickly agreeing to the new request, you might say, “We’re willing to do what it takes, of course, but would you be open to discussing the trade-offs first?” After all, considering the costs and benefits of different courses of action is strategic thinking at its core and fundamental to effective executive leadership.

If your team members are juggling many outside requests, give them clear guidelines about which ones to accommodate and empower them to question requests that have unrealistic timelines or fall outside the team’s remit. Be aware, however, that team members may be reluctant to push back on external stakeholders and more senior leaders. Bolster their efforts by consistently offering to step in and convey a considered “no” or “not now” to external stakeholders.

Foster a Team Culture of True Urgency

Creating a team culture that promotes true urgency is key to combating false urgency. Define clear criteria for urgent tasks, such as strategic alignment or critical client needs, and schedule regular reviews to reassess priorities. Establish communication channels and response-time expectations to ensure efficient and focused work. Encourage team members to challenge the urgency of tasks, making it psychologically safe for them to do so. Leaders should actively listen and acknowledge their team’s input, even if they ultimately maintain a deadline.

Work with your team to create norms that foster a reasonable operational tempo. Consider defining specific criteria for what constitutes an urgent task — such as strategic alignment, critical client needs, or safety concerns — and schedule regular reviews to reassess priorities and identify instances of false urgency. Also, establish appropriate communication channels and define reasonable response-time expectations based on urgency levels. For example, you might set a 24- or 48-hour response time to emails unless marked “urgent.” Without an explicit norm, your team will likely drop what they’re doing to answer your emails, even if they aren’t urgent.


Managing urgency in the workplace is a delicate balancing act. Leaders must recognise the signs of false urgency, pinpoint its sources, prioritise effectively, employ strategic procrastination, vet external requests, and foster a culture of true urgency. By addressing these issues, leaders can create a more productive and sustainable work environment, ultimately benefiting both the organisation and its employees.


Take the first step towards transforming your remote work culture by requesting a free demo assessment from Great People Inside.        

Our team of experts will guide you through the assessment process, showcasing the effectiveness and value of our tailored solutions for your organization.        

During the demo, you will have the opportunity to explore the comprehensive features and functionalities of our psychometric assessments, experiencing firsthand how they can empower your HR strategies and drive positive outcomes. From personality assessments to cognitive abilities and team dynamics evaluations, our assessments provide valuable insights to enhance talent management and foster inclusive remote work environments.        

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to test the power of unbiased HR solutions. Request your free demo assessment from Great People Inside today and embark on a journey of fair and effective talent management in the remote work era.        

Together, we can unlock the true potential of your remote teams and achieve remarkable success. Request a Free Demo Assessment.        

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is B_txt_01.png


6 Tips for Creating a Balanced and Engaging Work Culture in 2023

In the past, people believed that the only prerequisite to succeed in business was a great idea. While this is a prerequisite, people noticed that some businesses with great ideas last longer than others. It didn’t take them long to figure out the deciding factor was the work culture

With that in mind, here are the top six tips for creating a balanced and engaging work culture that will last in 2023. 

1. Become better at solving scheduling problems

The majority of workplace issues arise from scheduling problems. This is what makes people stressed out and causes conflicts in the workplace. So, by creating a balanced and engaging work culture, you have a better chance at creating a balanced and engaging work culture.

First, the easy way out. You can handle most scheduling problems and solutions via employee management software. So, getting one should be a top priority. This level of automation and coordination is hard to achieve manually. 

Still, even outside of this, there are many different areas that you should improve in so that you can create more efficient schedules. 

First, you need to understand the problem, and these problems can come in many shapes and forms:

  • Optimizing employee shifts
  • Meeting room allocation
  • Project timelines

These are just some of the issues that you’ll be facing.

Then, you need to understand that there are many constraints and that the schedule is not completely arbitrary. There are legal regulations. This may not be legal even if an employee agrees to do a 20-hour shift. 

Then, there are employee preferences and even resource availability. For instance, if you have operating space for just ten employees, having all the employees from both shifts appear simultaneously will not increase productivity. It may even decrease it.

Most important of all is the data. By getting enough information on the efficiency of your scheduling (overlapping, missed deadlines, etc.) and employee feedback, you’ll understand the problem much better.

2. Develop a better understanding of staff management

Staff management is an organizational skill that requires a lot of intelligence, multi-tasking, and empathy. Now, even though this description, it’s implied that this field requires a lot of talent, at the same time, it’s a skill, which means that you have a lot to improve.

Once again, ideally, you wouldn’t do this manually but, instead, use appropriate software for staff management. This will make your actions more accurate and proficient at core management tasks.

Other than this, you need to be better at communication. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu states that if the order is unclear, it’s the commander’s fault when they’re not executed. So, you must become better at setting clear expectations

Another thing you need to do is learn how to listen actively. Regarding feedback, people want to know that you’ve heard the point they were trying to make, not just nod silently while they’re speaking. You need to provide feedback while getting feedback, which is not nearly as intuitive for many people. 

Conflict resolution is one of the most important tasks of any manager. You’ll often be summoned as an arbitrator in a conflict you know little about. At this point, you must offer a compromise and remember that you can’t take sides even if one party is 100% at fault. You need to be fair and just but also conciliatory. Preserving the unity of the team is your high priority.

Your work culture is a great idea that needs to be enforced. You can achieve this through good management. 

3. Allow flexible work arrangements

You must allow people to work independently and under their conditions. This is incredibly important for many reasons. First, it can help people achieve a much better work-life balance. Second, it may drive productivity up. Finally, it will make you more appealing as an employer and drastically boost your talent attraction rates.

Just remember that setting this up isn’t a small thing. First, you need to make a choice:

  • You can set up a deadlines-based system where you put people on performance pay.
  • You can monitor their work via employee monitoring software like HubStaff. 

Each of these two has its advantages and disadvantages.

Second, with a flexible working model, you’ll likely allow people to use their devices from home. This means you must introduce a BYOD policy to ensure a higher level of cybersecurity for your entire enterprise. 

You also need to ensure that you have a positive hybrid work culture. Believe it or not, even a hybrid workplace can become toxic if you’re not careful enough. While remoteness changes workplace dynamics, this change won’t always be for the better. It also won’t eliminate some of the worst aspects of the workplace. 

By giving people a choice to work in a remote or hybrid setting, you’re not forcing them into this business model. You’re just giving them more options. This is always positive and may even help increase their sense of ownership over the workplace. 

4. Put more emphasis on recognition and rewards

One of the first things you need to do to create a better work culture is to base your organization on the appreciation and recognition of your staff. Your organization is made of people putting their work and effort into reaching your goals and objectives. Your organization is not your vision, mission, or brand – it’s the people.

Your employees must know their work is appreciated to give it their best. So, you need to learn how to do this the right way. Generic praises are not efficient enough since people can easily read the intention (or the lack thereof). So, you might even want to consider getting an employee engagement platform. This way, you’ll always have all the insight you need to guide these conversations to their successful outcome.

Next, we need to discuss the rewards. Sure, your employees will love it if everything they do right could result in a pay raise. They would also prefer to get promoted at least twice per month. The problem is that this would be utterly unsustainable from the perspective of your finances and your organization’s structure.

Instead, you must learn how to give proper micro-rewards and create this promotion/pay-raise scheme so your staff never feels underappreciated.

You also want to think about the concepts of autonomy and trust. If you micro-manage everything and insist that your employees seek your confirmation for every decision, you’re not just slowing down your process but also ruining your relationship. Give them more autonomy!

5. Provide a platform for growth and development

Many managers see talent turnover as a negative thing and refuse to acknowledge it for what it really is – an inescapable rule of the business world. Your employees, even the best ones (especially the best ones), will probably, eventually leave. Even those you promote and reward. Even those you consider friends.

You can, however, affect:

  • How long they stay
  • How hard they try while they’re in your employ
  • How well they talk about you to their future coworkers

These three things are monumental, so you must ensure they’re happy in your employ.

Now, it’s only normal that people only look for themselves and your employees work for you for one of few things. They want a decent salary and great work experience to further their career.

You’ll be seen as an ideal employer if you allow them to grow. You need enough room for them to advance and a prospect for their advancement. 

You must also provide opportunities for lateral movement within your organization, a mentorship program, and many training opportunities. Generally speaking, even some of the best books about success and affluence, like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, speak about experience and skills as more valuable than pay. Some of your most ambitious employees will feel the same. 

6. Introduce wellness programs and social activities

To show your employees that you care, you must go beyond activities that generate profit. Buying your employee a new laptop is a nice gesture, but it’s an activity that indirectly boosts their productivity, which you directly benefit from.

At the same time, by starting a wellness program or creating social activity opportunities, you’ll show that you care about more than just productivity. 

You can introduce daily exercise (or deskercise), introduce healthier options in your work cafeteria, or introduce a mandatory ten-minute meditation break.

This will result in stress relief, morale boost, increased creativity, and more.

You can also combine social activities with employee appreciation (which we’ve discussed earlier) by celebrating milestones

The only way for your staff to stay competitive in 2023 is in a balanced ad engaging work culture 

Your employees are the only ones who can decide how hard they’ll try and how long they’ll stay. With an engaging work culture, they’ll feel the intrinsic motivation to do more. A balanced workplace will protect them from burnout and make them feel more pleasant overall. In the end, everyone wins.  

By Srdjan Gombar

Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.

Communicating with Kindness

Believe that in every interpersonal communication, leaders should be on the side of kindness. This statement is seemingly simple but it takes courage to live — especially now.

We live in a world in which a host of issues are eating away at our connections with each other. Take lack of focus: When was the last time you had a conversation without one of the people involved checking their phone or multitasking? Or speed: We run from one thing to the next without reflecting on the human implications of what we just did.

But the challenge becomes harder when you consider that people may not want to be kind. Of those who felt strongly about a particular social or political issue, only 30% of people said they would help someone who held a different point of view on the latest Edelman Trust Barometer survey. As a result of political polarisation, everything is becoming a political statement (think about masking coming out of the pandemic). Perhaps as a result of these factors, common incivility is rampant in the workplace.

Great leadership is all about connecting with people by making them feel seen and heard. That means standing against all of these trends and impulses and instead practicing what we can call “gracious communication.”

This involves small gestures and an overall demeanour that allow for connection. For a senior leader — as well as any aspiring leader — this kind of communication is important in day-to-day interactions as well as in big, difficult conversations. You’ll find yourself enjoying stronger relationships and a respected leadership presence, as well as more creativity, resilience, and, ultimately, stronger leadership.

Break down defensiveness with KINDNESS

When you go into a tough environment always start by saying, “Thank you so much for inviting me here today.” Wear a smile when you say this, and I mean it. It shows that you’re there to listen and contribute, not to stonewall anyone. And that’s disarming: It lightens the mood and opens the ears. At the same time, it takes courage and shows your maturity. That allows for more creative, productive problem-solving.

To be clear, we’re not saying that there is no place for showing anger to someone. If they hurt you or your family, for example, anger is an appropriate response. But it’s not the most effective tool for opening minds and moving hearts. Anger shuts the other person down; kindness opens them up.

And, as a leader, others are always watching your communications, and if you are known to be someone who blows, you will be isolated from important negative news. An angry or volatile organisational culture makes it less likely that people will speak up about important risks or problems. That makes your organisation less able to respond quickly to crises.

Give credit where credit is due

People like to be seen and appreciated. Recognising those who deserve it engenders enthusiasm, hard work, trust, and loyalty.

Practicing gratitude and kindness also spurs your creativity: Reflecting on your interaction with someone after the fact often sparks an idea for another opportunity with them, or another way to continue the conversation. It helps you to slow down long enough for those ideas to emerge.

Giving recognition is as powerful for your peers as it is for those you lead. Every time you see someone in a group getting recognition, you must circulate it to the rest of the group. Do this because you admire the people you work with, and honestly believe what you are saying. Believe that it makes you, the credit-giver, look good too: It communicates that you have the maturity and self-confidence to appreciate someone else.

This is a surprising move because claiming credit is the big thing in the corporate world these days. Think about humblebragging: the trend in which someone bemoans how many horrible nights they stayed up late to finish an important project (the point for the audience being how important the project was and how big their role on it). Or posting on social media about how blessed or humbled they are to have achieved a huge promotion. It’s endless and nauseating, because the need to claim credit for everything is destructive and counterproductive in the end.

The urge to claim recognition can be particularly strong if someone has just taken credit for your idea or your work. But before you step in to correct the record, think twice. People are observant; they can often see who is doing the work. Staying silent in that moment, rather than rushing to say “No, I did it!” shows a lot about how confident you feel about yourself and can keep the door open for a connection with the other person.

Of course, there are situations where you should raise your hand and take a bow, such as when you are leading a team that achieved a stretch goal (in which case, say “we”) or when your company reputation is at stake. In the end, giving credit to others can be more powerful for you than taking it.

Give the other party space and clarity

No matter what conversation you want to have with someone, don’t catch them off their guard or off their game. Whether it’s an innocuous quick question or a serious piece of bad news, always ask if it’s a good time and try to give them a sense of what you want to discuss.

This gives your counterpart an opportunity to prepare themselves for any surprises or tough news that you need to share, and makes it clear that you are interested in listening to their response. It can also calm them down — they go from not knowing what to expect to understanding the lay of the land. It gives them a roadmap for your ramble.

This can be as simple as reaching out to a colleague and saying “Is now a good time to discuss our fall campaign?” (rather than just FaceTiming them at odd hours, which I used to do). It could be giving some emotional context for news that could be perceived in different ways.

For big issues this can require a little more preparation: I had something important to talk to my boss about the other week. I told him, “I’d really appreciate it if we could find a few minutes during the offsite to talk about this issue I’m having related to my team,” and sent him a few slides so he would know what it was about and knew to find me when he had 15 minutes, not two.

You won’t always have time to prepare, but there are still ways to give the other person space. If the need to push back on something or deliver bad news comes up in the moment in a conversation, you can say “lLet’s stop right there” and be candid. But if it is a group situation, if possible, wait until the meeting is over and then call them back. Let’s say they said something offensive. Give them a call and say, “You may not know how that landed,” and discuss it from there. Shaming people publicly is not a good idea, but trying to educate others in private is a great idea.

Whatever tactics you choose, the idea is not to burden the other person in your conversation, and instead to be outward focused — on the other person, not yourself. However hard that is, especially in today’s polarized and fast-paced world, it pays big dividends toward your relationships, your leadership, and your own well-being.


Take the first step towards transforming your remote work culture by requesting a free demo assessment from Great People Inside.

Our team of experts will guide you through the assessment process, showcasing the effectiveness and value of our tailored solutions for your organization.

During the demo, you will have the opportunity to explore the comprehensive features and functionalities of our psychometric assessments, experiencing firsthand how they can empower your HR strategies and drive positive outcomes. From personality assessments to cognitive abilities and team dynamics evaluations, our assessments provide valuable insights to enhance talent management and foster inclusive remote work environments.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to test the power of unbiased HR solutions. Request your free demo assessment from Great People Inside today and embark on a journey of fair and effective talent management in the remote work era.

Together, we can unlock the true potential of your remote teams and achieve remarkable success.Request a Free Demo Assessment.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is B_txt_01.png


Trouble in Hiring? Workplace Culture May Be The Answer

Workplace culture continues to evolve as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. If you’ve tried to recruit someone into your business over the past several months, you know how difficult it is to find qualified talent. If you’ve tried to recruit someone into your business over the past several months, you know how difficult it is to find qualified talent. While it’s easy to blame the pandemic for this disruption to the marketplace, this is likely a problem that will continue for at least the next decade.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 10 million positions currently open. At the same time, the Department of Labor reported there are 8.7 million potential workers who have been looking for jobs and are counted among the unemployed. That means we have a significant shortfall of available people to fill our positions. Employers are also reporting that the candidates who are applying have a mismatch of skills and they’re not seeing people who are able to meet their specific needs. Baby Boomers are exiting the workforce to enter retirement and are further complicating the already difficult hiring landscape. For companies that are trying to scale and grow, this is a challenge. If these same companies are willing to take a critical look at their workplace cultures and make adjustments now, hiring and retention don’t have to be quite so troublesome.

So, what is workplace culture? 

That’s a good question, because many people think of workplace culture as being about the look and feel of their environment. But an organisation’s culture is the set of behavioural norms and unwritten rules that shape how employees interact and get work done. Workpalce culture is critical to creating the best experience for employees. Corporate culture is formed from a company’s daily practices, traditions, beliefs, and programmes. When your workplace culture isn’t being treated as a priority, it’s reflected in employee performance, productivity, and retention.

Take a look at your culture to determine what’s working and what’s not

We have a tendency to look at the monthly profit and loss and the economic indicators of success in our businesses, but we also need to focus on our employees and their experiences working for our companies.

If you care about your customers and their experience with your business, you should also be focused on your employee experience. Customer experience is a direct result of employee experience. A well-designed employee journey allows your staff to understand their value to your organisation. They feel well cared for and are set up for success at every key milestone during their employment. If your company hasn’t conducted a culture audit in the last two years, or you’ve never completed this exercise, it’s a good practice to learn what’s really going on in your employees’ journey. The culture audit can be as simple as asking employees what’s going well and what’s not, as well as learning more about the challenges they’re facing in their daily jobs. If you’re feeling really brave, you can also ask them questions about what would cause them to leave your organisation.

How much does workplace culture ‘cost’?

Culture often doesn’t have a line item in the corporate budget, but it should. Efforts to improve workplace culture almost always pay for themselves. When you have a workplace culture that supports employees, retention becomes easier, recruitment and re-recruitment costs go down, diversity happens more organically, and productivity goes up.

What about ROI?

Consider this data: Gallup estimates that a 100-person organisation that provides an average salary of $50,000 could have turnover and replacement costs of approximately $660,000 to $2.6 million per year. Even if your workplace culture efforts only save a few employees each year, it’s worth it. Companies that really excel in improving their cultures typically see significant returns in the first year.

The time is now!

It’s simple: Organisations must work hard against the forced entrepreneurship culture where smart, talented, and able employees say: I know I can do it better than you, so I will. Gather information on the employees who prefer to work virtually and understand what the non-negotiables are. Look for compromise. When employees recommit, continue to help them forge their career paths so they know you are committed to their futures, alongside that of the company. Let them know that they are valuable members of the workplace: an ever-increasing mosaic of new cultures, beliefs, and values.

A business is more likely to succeed when its culture is focused on the way employees view the company as a whole. If any of these stats felt like they hit close to home for your business, then it’s time to look into how to improve your company culture, such as how to improve internal communications, and better recognise achievements and engage with your employees.

It’s important to remember that there isn’t any “one-size-fits-all” type of culture that results in every single employee being happy and productive. But paying attention to what is achievable in regards to improving your culture will pay off majorly for your employees and your business. 

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo: