The fourth experience I would like to share was one of those off experiences I have always remembered, but didn’t really understand until I personally experienced frustration in team members lack of urgency. After the Community Hospital of Indianapolis (CHI) experience, one of our crack sales guys sold a project at Kuakini Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. After a small amount of internal politics, myself and one of the rock star architects/engineers were selected to go to Hawaii for 3 months or so to implement PathNet in Kuakini Medical Center. Each of us were married with one child about the same age so the two families headed off to “work” in Hawaii. If you have never experienced the work ethic of the Hawaiian culture, it is pretty laid back. Work gets done but in a relaxed and collegial way. So my colleague would pick me up around 8:00 and we would knock off around 4:30, along with the staff of the laboratory. Admittedly it was pretty relaxed compared to the firefight experience of CHI. Our workspace was the computer room, which was basically a closet-size room with a couple desks and a phone. One day, about mid-day, that phone rang. On the other end was Neal, inquiring about the progress on the project, our projected conversion date and our plans to come home. Being young and naïve, I didn’t see through the line of questions and when asked our work hours, I proudly shared them. The tone of the call changed abruptly. It became clear that my answers and work schedule demonstrated a significant lack of urgency. As you might imagine, by the end of the conversation we had an urgent mandate. I am a guy that is blessed with a pretty good memory and burdened with Catholic guilt. That call always bothered me. It bothered me until I was that guy, trying to run a small business. Then the light bulb went on and I understood the importance. I stood in the other shoe, fighting to make payroll, and frustrated over a perceived lack of urgency of the folks on that payroll. Every task or due date has a much bigger impact than simply hitting the deadline. I guess the leadership lessons to be gleamed from this haunting experience are:
Be aware of the business pressures of your boss/leadership
Work every day as if the deadline is tomorrow morning. Don’t put off until tomorrow something you can get done today.
Think and work proactively and aggressively. An aggressive work style builds the career.
Think and work with urgency. Someone has to make payroll and you want your name on the payee list.
A couple things I do to convey the importance of urgency to my team members is:
Share the client’s needs and potential benefits of the project
Establish interim milestones to create even resource workload and avoid back loaded projects. (impending deadline driven)