We often look at effectiveness and efficiency as being equivalent. When we are highly efficient in a task we feel good about our work and believe that we are being effective. The reality is that effectiveness and efficiency are not always related and often highly efficient people can be ineffective in their pursuits.
A couple years ago I took some time to analyze a system in our business in order to see if we could become more productive. What I found was a great example of efficiency without effectiveness. This was a bookkeeping system which had many moving parts ensuring that mistakes were not made. While there were little to no mistakes we found that we were having issues with the volume of work being placed on the bookkeeper at that time. I was considering hiring another employee to come in and help with the work load, but upon drilling into the process of the position I found that we were keeping multiple spreadsheets and checklists to track the same process. The employee was extremely efficient in keeping the spreadsheets and checklists perfect and was completing a great deal of work. The problem lied in the effectiveness of the system. You see, even though they were doing a great deal of work efficiently, their work was not effective. Quickly I realized that they were doing the same work three times and another employee was not needed; we simply needed to make the position effective!
Efficiency is how well you accomplish a specific task, while effectiveness is accomplishing things that bring you closer to your desired outcome or goals. How efficient you do something is irrelevant if you’re not increasing your effectiveness at the same time!
3 Keys to Being Effective:
1. Set and analyze your goals often.
Having written goals that you review weekly or monthly will keep you focused on being effective in your work.
2. Ensure that your work is increasing profits.
Analyze your daily work and make sure that what you have completed is increasing revenue. If you were efficient, without increasing profitability or moving the business forward then you may be lacking in effectiveness.
3. Analyze your tasks and make sure you are not doubling or tripling your work.
Often we double our work because we are scared to make mistakes. While it is important to do a great job, being too focused on perfection can cause you to be extremely ineffective.
Efficiency is important, but not at the expense of being effective in your pursuits. Analyze your behaviors and don’t be content with efficiency if you’re not moving closer to your desired outcome!