Many people think the words “effective” and “efficient” mean the same thing. However, a growing number of business leaders recognize the important distinction between these two qualities. The concept of effectiveness has long been understood as a prime driver of business success as set forth in Peter F. Drucker’s well-reviewed book The Effective Executive. But, the real question is what is the best way to be effective?
What’s Wrong with Effectiveness?
One problem with effectiveness is that it doesn’t come with time limits. In the past companies were able to operate in a more leisurely way with projects sometimes taking many months to complete. In today’s fast-changing business world this won’t fly anymore. Many businesses have spent time developing groundbreaking technologies only to be beaten to the post by a competitor.
What About Efficiency?
On the flip side, efficiency when not combined with effectiveness can prove catastrophic. For instance, a demolition crew in Texas did a very efficient job of demolishing a house. However, it was ineffective because they demolished the wrong house – the code enforcer had written an incorrect address on their forms. And, they did the exact same thing again the following day. It took a second foul-up for them to begin checking their work orders effectively.
What’s Needed is Efficient Effectiveness
Business leaders don’t just need efficiency or effectiveness, they need a hybrid of the two. They need to do the right things in the right way. Efficient effectiveness is necessary to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment. Efficiency and effectiveness must join forces to produce an efficiently effective workforce. Here are a few tips to accomplish this.
- Don’t measure employee engagement through surveys. Your employees won’t believe they’re confidential and won’t give you honest feedback.
- Deal with negative employees on an individual basis. Creating a new policy because of a bad experience with one employee will alienate your workforce.
- Don’t micro-manage. Send the message that you trust your talented people by letting them do their jobs with minimum oversight.
- Value new ideas. Employees who feel their opinions are valued are engaged employees. If an idea doesn’t work, explain why so they won’t be discouraged from speaking up again.
- Communicate – Employees want to know what’s going on. Use intranet bulletins, emails, newsletters, or employee meetings – an informed employee is a happy employee.
- Don’t be stingy with praise. Salary raises and bonuses are great, but it takes just a few minutes to tell someone they’ve done a great job.
- Don’t stomp on someone for a mistake. Instead, spend time talking to them and coaching them to do the job right.
- Leave your ego behind. Do what’s best for your organization instead of your reputation or paycheck.
Espousing the principle of efficiency at all cost will end up inflicting strain and damage on your employees. In contrast, being effective means that you are balancing what’s required to get the job done well with how these requirements are impacting the people doing it. Building and maintaining a solid team with everyone working well together should be the ultimate goal of efficient effective business leadership.