by Gordon Tredgold, Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE between being efficient and being effective. When we are efficient, it means that we complete our tasks with the minimum amount of wasted time or effort.
In many companies there is a strong drive for efficiency. However, if we are not focused on the right things then this efficiency is actually wasted effort. In order to be effective we need to ensure that we are focused on the right things.
When we do the wrong job it doesn’t matter how well or how good that we do it, it will not lead us to our desired results. This is wasted performance. In fact, if we do the right job poorly we will make more progress towards our goal, than if we do the wrong job brilliantly.
As leaders it is our job to ensure that our organizations are focused on the right jobs, and as managers it’s our job to ensure that we do the jobs well. When our teams are focused on the wrong things, this wasted effort can have a significant effect on moral and motivation. No matter how hard we work we will never achieve our goals, and if we don’t know it’s the wrong job and we believe it’s the quality of work that is stopping us from being effective, then we will look to work harder, but to no effect. This is a spiral that will lead to frustration and consequently demotivation.
Our goal should be, to be effective, which means delivering the intended result. In order to be effective we have to have a clear idea of what success looks like and know what is needed to deliver it. Once we know this, then we know that we are working on the right job. Once we are focused on the right job, then we can start to make progress.
Once you know what your objective is and you can clearly articulate it, then you need to evaluate everything that you do and see whether it will help you in achieving those objectives. If it doesn’t then it’s the wrong job and you should stop doing it, it’s wasted effort.
High performing teams are not necessarily ones who just do outstanding work, high performance can be achieved through always doing the right job and always doing it well.
Our drive for efficiency has to be combined with a drive to ensure that we are focused on the right job. If we can achieve this then we can truly create high performing teams. There are plenty of examples of what I mean in sports, particularly soccer.
People often believe that the team that has the highest amount of possession is the one that wins the most games. Whilst this statistic is true, what is even truer is that 100% of teams that score the most goals win 100% of the games.
If our focus is just on creating a high possession percentage, but we don’t score any goals, then we will not win the game. We can have 100% of possession in our own half of the pitch, here we have achieved our efficiency target but we haven’t been very effective, i.e. we didn’t win the game.
To win the game, our focus has to be on scoring more goals than the opposition. We may use a high possession percentage to ensure that our opponents have fewer opportunities to score, but our game plan must include creating good quality opportunities to score.
Our goal needs to be effective first, identifying the right things to focus on, and then working to become more efficient in doing them. As we achieve the first part, our teams will start to see progress as they work on the right things, this will help increase motivation. Once they have done that then they can focus on doing these jobs better and they will see their harder work delivering even more progress, which will then lead to even higher motivation. This is the spiral that we are looking to create. This is the way to create a high performance culture and a highly performing team.