The words “effective” and “efficient” have a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.
Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency when brainstorming ways to build upon strategy. Just because a company or employee has one, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.
Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity; while a lack of it, well, the positive results will be pretty slim.
Before we discuss the various nuances between each and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.
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Effective vs Efficient
Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”
A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.
Now if you incorrectly set a timer for the light and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.
The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.
Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective, but not efficient; or efficient, but not particularly effective.
When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.
What Effectiveness in Success and Productivity Looks Like?
Effective is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation and they employ “method A” and successfully complete the job, then they’ve been effective at achieving the task that they were given.
The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.
If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed the value in the service wasn’t up to par.
When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:
- Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
- What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
- Does the cost balance out with the benefit?
Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent does a method, tool, or resource meet the above criteria and achieve the desired effect? If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks then productivity will likely suffer.
What Efficiency in Success and Productivity Looks Like
Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and perhaps most importantly, time, all factor into the equation.
Efficiency can be measured in numerous ways, but in general, the business that uses fewer materials is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition, assuming they’re also effective, of course.
Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle. The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal, but the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and ultimately closed deals.
If less than 10 percent of those calls generate even a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach. Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.
The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.
Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity
If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective and because of that, they’re seriously at risk going under.
It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.
Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.
Businesses and employees often succumb to being inefficient because they don’t look for a better way of doing the right thing, or lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.
Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.
By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics, and regularly looking at them once certain changes have been made, a company’s leaders will have a much better idea of what sort of results they’re generating within the business.
It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.
Understanding the differences between being effective and efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:
- Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
- Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
- Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.
And just like that, effective productivity is maximized. Easy enough, right?
More to Improve Productivity
- 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time
- Productivity vs Efficiency: Which One Matters More and Why?
- How to Complete Any Task in the Most Time Efficient Manner
Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com