Efficiency or Effectiveness: Which Do You Need for Success?
February 6, 2023
How do you like to work? Do you like to move fast or with precision? Do you like many small projects or one big, long one that you can dig into?
No, you’re not in the middle of a job interview exercise, though these are questions that you should know about yourself and your teams.
My go-to answer used to be, “I can do either.” But that’s not really an answer, is it? What’s my preference? What do I excel in? After years of managing nonprofits, as well as running businesses, I’ve come to realize that I like most of my days filled with many smaller projects, with one or two large projects that are more strategic in scope.
Because even though I like to go fast, I prefer variety and being effective with the results of my work. What about you and your business?
A Need For Speed
I am always looking for more efficient ways to do things. Maybe you are too. There are tons of productivity tools, suggestions on how to streamline operations, and the like. If you love efficiency, you probably go out of your way to find these resources and content. You likely fill your time in the car with podcasts and maximize learning or working opportunities whenever possible. You also either fall asleep the minute you turn off the light or you’re up for hours considering new ideas and solutions.
If you work for someone else, they likely pass you the ball often because they know you’ll get it done on time but…
There’s something speed demons often sacrifice and that’s effectiveness. That’s not to say they aren’t effective at their jobs. But as they develop a reputation for getting things done, those around them pile on more and more. Eventually, the reward for doing a good job quickly is just more work.
Get It Done
Speed allows for singular focus. Efficient people know what tasks can be performed when. If they have a few minutes in their schedule, they know how to use them. Effective people, on the other hand, allow themselves to take a step back. To make decisions about what tasks will advance their ultimate goals and what will detract from them. They weigh everything against what they want to accomplish, and they say “no” often. They would rather have a moment doing nothing than cramming it full of busy work.
Effective people are not the most efficient. They are not the people you hand something to when it needs to be completed ASAP. They probably wouldn’t put up with you dumping things on them anyway. They make deliberate decisions.
Choose Your Own Way
As a business owner or employee, there are times to concentrate on efficiency and there are times to gear your operation to effectiveness. If you are one or the other all the time, you will find yourself struggling either with burn out or missed deadlines.
Ask yourself if this week you need to move toward being deliberate in what you are trying to accomplish, or do you need to pull a Chuck Yeager and break the speed barrier to get important tasks done?
Only you know which of these is the most important for your business this week, this month, this year. But you have to recognize the differences between the two in order to realize what you need in order to succeed.
Written by Chris Bailey. Chris is the Executive Director of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce. When he's not helping his community and businesses prosper, Chris enjoys hiking West Virginia state parks with his wife Carrie, having a good beer and barbecue, and solving the daily NY Times crossword puzzle.