This was originally posted on our blog about a year ago. I am generally not a fan of recycling posts, but as you know, repetition is the key to learning and some issues are worth addressing again. I recently attended a class and an area of contention was the differences and importance of efficiency and effectiveness. So, in response to that discussion, here I address and discuss the differences. Enjoy.
Many of us have said something like, “I am an efficient and effective leader, capable of leading teams to extraordinary achievements…” For some, these are just buzzwords used in an attempt to sound intelligent but often come across as, well, something else. For others, these “buzzwords” are true definitions of who they are and how they lead, but they cannot explain what it truly means. What does it mean to be an efficient leader? What does it mean to be an effective leader?
Efficiency and effectiveness are often used synonymously but are in reality a bit different. Efficiency can be attributed to the time or rate which something is accomplished, whereas, effectiveness is the accuracy or quality of the accomplishment. Which is more important?
(Added content to increase understanding). If you were planning to climb a mountain within 7 days, you would find the right people to guide the way, pack the right equipment, ensure your team were physical fit, and plan your path to the top. You then set out on your journey and make it to the top in 5 days – that is 2 days ahead of schedule! This is efficiency. However, you realize you climbed the wrong mountain! Climbing the right mountain is effectiveness.
Here is an example to illustrate the difference between the two.
It is appraisal time, you have 8 team members to evaluate, and you only have 8 hours to do them all, among your other tasks. So, you spend an hour developing a quality appraisal and you copy and paste your information into each of the remaining 7 appraisals. You are able to deliver all 8 appraisals, including your face-to-face discussions, in less than 5 hours. Each team member receives an appraisal, and you have 3 extra hours to do what you want. This is efficiency.
Alternatively, you spend more time developing an honest appraisal for each team member and deliver the face-to-face discussion, all in 8 hours. You conduct your appraisals in this way as each team member performed a different function, had different goals and tasks, and performed to a higher or lesser degree of quality. Each team member understands his or her successes and areas to improve for next year, thus, a more accurate assessment. This is effectiveness.
Which appraisal method is better? Is it more important to be efficient or effective in this case? In reality, as the leader, you should be constantly evaluating your team and the final appraisal should be a relatively easy wrap-up, but that is a topic for another day.
A leader that accomplishes a task quickly is efficient. A leader that accomplishes a task accurately is effective. A leader that can do both is efficient and effective. Are you an efficient and effective leader, capable of leading teams to extraordinary achievements?
Next week I will add to this discussion by addressing expectations and quality as they affect what is perceived as efficient and effective.
Until next time.
The mountain climbing example was originally used here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140730001606-37049081-effective-vs-efficient
Effective communication is essential to leading a team successfully. From a business perspective, effective communication may very well be the difference between obtaining or retaining clients and customers – or not. What about non-profits? Yup, communication is key here as well. Communication is important everywhere – business, non-profits, family, grocery store – everywhere. Communicating effectively to your team is just as important (more important?) as communicating with your clients, customers, and volunteers.
What is effective communication?
Effective communication is different from person to person and team to team, and really depends on the stage the team of people are in. Tuckman’s stages of group development of forming, storming, norming, and performing, increase the ease of effective communication over time. Teams in the forming stage need to communicate clearly, more frequently, and perhaps in more detail to ensure the message is understood. As the team grows together closer to the performing stage, each member learns how the other communicates, including body language, written, and oral communication, making communication easier and quicker.
At some point, teams may not even need to communicate as they are so in tune with each other that they know what the other is thinking or will do before it even happens. Military special operations units such as the Army Special Forces or Navy SEALS are a great example of this. A simple look, hand gesture, or mutual understanding of what to do in certain situations increases the ease of communication (of course these guys have trained for years together to get to this point).
But you don’t need to be a Navy SEAL to communicate effectively.
How do we communicate effectively?
Communicating effectively requires an understanding of what is being said. To ensure understanding, the communicator needs to confirm that what was said was actually heard. This can be done by validating what was said. There are many ways to do so, but these 3 are quite effective:
Next week I will discuss how this can help your team, grow your clients, and delight them with effective communication.
So, what do you do when you feel like a hypocrite, when your professional life and your personal life seem to contradict each other. You may have heard someone say that a house cleaners house is never as clean as the one they worked on that day or the general contractor’s house is in more need of work than you once thought possible. Shoot, I have had marriage counselors that have been divorced – doesn’t that just seem odd?
I am not referring to the complete double-sided life of proselytizing a drug-free life during the day and abusing drugs at night. I am referring to the issue of being good at leading others at work for example, but struggling to do the same at home.
Well, there are a number of reasons why this could be true. They are burnt out from their day doing their profession and just don’t have it in them to do it anymore (whatever it is). Perhaps they do what they do because they have learned so much from their own life that they want to help others (in the case of the divorced marriage counselor), makes sense right?
(But, shouldn’t our professional and personal life be the same, at least similar, in how we handle them?)
We all learn from the example set before us. We are more likely to follow what we see, rather than choose not to follow what we see unless it completely contradicts our personal and professional beliefs, morals, or ethics. So how do we follow the example of someone giving advice, for example, when they don’t even practice what they preach, so to speak?
The truth is, they (we, you, me) may be sharing advice based on their (yours, my) own experiences of making the wrong decisions. Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s, right? If you feel like a hypocrite for mishandling one aspect of your life, while doing another very well, chances are you need to reprioritize your life and make sure you are applying an appropriate balance of your time, energy, finances, etc. in all that you do.
To be honest, I have been feeling more and more like a hypocrite lately. Struggling at home while talking and writing about leading others. I know I am not the only one. But, it is time for a change for me. Is it a time for a change for you? What will you do? Please share with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s grow together.
Jared W. Snow
Goal development is an integral component for personal, professional, and organizational success. Goals drive direction to produce a result. Without a goal it is impossible to know where you are going. It would be like getting into your car and driving without a destination; there is no point in doing so. Now, my wife used to get into her car and just drive without a destination. But in this case, she just wanted to get out on her own and just think. The goal was not the destination, rather the opportunity to process her thoughts.
Have you ever heard someone say that they do not create goals, that way they cannot fail? Maybe even you have said this. The idea is, without a goal there is no chance of failing since there is no targeted result. This is a “wing it” type of lackadaisical attitude towards achieving something. This attitude is often aimed at some form of personal development preceded by a past failure.
The reality is most people create goals (sometimes subconsciously) to accomplish something. “I am not going to do anything today” is still a goal, with the result of accomplishing nothing. People with the idea of “no goal making for me” or often referring to a stretch goal such as a college degree or losing a few pounds. In the work place, this could be increasing sales by 10% each quarter, taking on a new routine task, or improving a process and reducing paper usage.
So we know goals are important, but what is a good goal to set and how is it developed? The acronym SMART has been used to help guide the goal development process. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. The SMART process is a great way to clearly identify the goal, how to know when it has been achieved, and some important characteristics of the goal.
Let’s define SMART
A goal must be as specific as possible. Instead of losing weight or increasing sales, you want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months by going to the gym 3 times per week or increase sales by 10% in 45 days by contacting 10 more potential clients per week. Some goals are a bit more challenging to specify, but the more clear the desired result is, the easier it will be to monitor and assess. Answer the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why) to help the goal become more specific.
A goal must be measured otherwise it is impossible to identify if progress is being made or when the goal is achieved. Measuring progress becomes some level of accountability and helps you remain focused on what is important. A measureable goal includes how many or how much and identifies what success looks like. The goal to lose 15 pounds in 3 months could be measured by checking weight loss each month and tracking the frequency of working out. Success looks like 15 pounds lost in 3 months.
A goal must stretch the individual or organization enough to make them work hard, but not so far as to cause unnecessary stress and strain. The goal should be just out of “arms reach.” Too far out and the goal is not likely attainable but too close and the goal will not stretch the individual or organization. An easy goal for someone in sales may be an increase of 10%, a stretch goal may be 25%, and an unattainable goal may be 50%. It is up to the individual or organization to determine what is just out of arms reach. The purpose of a goal is to stretch the individual or organization. This could require more time, training, finances, or a change of attitude.
A goal must be relevant to the person, project, or organizations mission. For example, if an organizations objective is to reduce paper usage across the state by 50% in the next fiscal year, an appropriate goal would be to develop an automated workflow to create and process PDF forms instead of printed forms and increase registered users by 2,000 each quarter.
Additionally, they must be relevant to the individual or organizational conditions. Using the same paper reduction example above, if the cost to become a registered user exceeds the budget of their target audience, then the goal of 2,000 users might not be relevant (or realistic, another “R” word used in the SMART acronym).
A goal must have a suspense. A suspense is the benchmark for which success can be assessed. A lack of a suspense results in a lack of urgency and potential failure.
To wrap it up
Whether you are looking to lose a few pounds, increase sales, or reduce your paper use, a goal may be simple or complex, long in duration or brief, involve an individual or organization. The most important fact to realize is that goals are meant to be achieved.
Jared W. Snow
Have you have been told “don’t drop the ball” or perhaps you have told someone else not to? While most understand the expression, it is often difficult to keep the intent while juggling many balls. What types of “balls” are you maintaining: school, work, hobbies, sports coach, kids, kids homework, yard work… the list goes on. So how do you successfully maintain the mentality of “don’t drop the ball” while maintaining your sanity? Most don’t, at least not very well.
So how do you actually manage all of your tasks and maintain your sanity? I propose that we evaluate what types of balls we are dealing with, and choose which we can actually drop. An expanded version of the “don’t drop the ball” saying is to categorize them as rubber, metal, or glass.
A rubber ball
A rubber ball item is something that if dropped, will bounce back with little to no repercussions. You can delay these tasks without anyone really knowing or caring. These are easy to pick up and keep moving along as if nothing really happened. This could be a task you give yourself such as mowing the lawn or organizing email. You are likely the only one to really notice if it is done or not.
A metal ball
A metal ball item is something that you could drop, it will get noticed, but really isn’t that consequential. Metal balls are heavy so they will take extra effort to get on schedule and completed on time. Drop a metal ball only if needed and only if you have the time and resources (personnel or money) to invest and get the ball back on track. This could be a reoccurring task such as approving organizational purchases. If ignored for a few days, nobody will really notice but your workload will increase when you get around to catching up.
A glass ball
A glass ball item is something that you cannot drop. If you do, the ball will shatter and cannot be put back together. You will need to start the task over and will likely face consequences. This could be something assigned to you by your boss such as a major report due or paying your mortgage – you just cannot afford to be late.
Only you will be able to identify if you are dealing with a rubber, metal, or glass ball. Evaluate your situation, identify the ball you are dealing with, and handle it accordingly. Just keep in mind how many you can actually handle at once without becoming overwhelmed or unproductive.
Jared W. Snow