Consistently produce your desired results

By Anne Bachrach

A.M. Enterprises (The Accountability Coach)


What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency?

There are a variety of subtle differences as well as some basic ideas to consider. The definition of effective reads “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” The word efficient is defined as “productive of desired effects and productive without waste.”

The term efficiency is usually associated with machinery or science. When an inanimate object is performing its function as directed, it is often said to be efficient. This is why many definitions include the term “without waste.”

Efficiency can also be used when describing people, that is, people who are performing their jobs efficiently — as directed and without the need for maintenance. The quality of being effective usually involves more human terms, as in reaching someone’s mind and heart through a process of reason and conversation. Nevertheless, in business, the two terms tend to be used interchangeably.

Effectiveness vs. efficiency

Some experts have commented that a directive of efficiency tends to dehumanize many factors and often favors quick decisions over careful analysis. The efficient person may move rapidly, checking off things to do in a hurried fashion. After all, the motivation is to perform the job quickly and with minimal waste. This attitude, however, may not give the proper attention to details.

This is not to say that someone that is efficient is doing anything wrong. In fact, there are many benefits to being an efficient thinker. Efficient thinkers are organized. They operate quickly and don’t have time for procrastination or laziness. They work well with tools and communicate clearly in voice and writing. They are on time and respect the company’s resources.

In other words, efficient thinkers work well according to established systems. They learn the system and they adhere to the operation some might think. They take a robotic approach towards many situations, which is appreciated for certain tasks.

An effective thinker still wants the results, but focuses on getting results in the realm of their responsibilities. Effectiveness has more to do with teaching, with life experience and with specialized expertise in a chosen field. These advantages help to bring about effective results. There is more of a personal touch when one strives to be effective. Clients and employees want the personal touch and want assurances that their money and their efforts are not all in vain. Very often, these people need guidance, the specialty of an effective thinker. People skills come more naturally for an effective thinker than an efficient thinker.

The efficient thinker is more concerned with the overall process, while the effective thinker empathizes with every person involved. In order to teach others effectively, you have to reach out to them and deliver that human factor that efficient systems don’t provide.
Cultivating both qualities in business

You could strive to be an effective worker, even while you are supported by efficiency. You have to combine both perspectives, first of working with individual people, and second, working with a united front. If you sense that you alienate others or lack people skills then you need to decrease the efficient side of your brain and focus more on effectively communicating with others. If you sense that you have good communicative skills but are often so disorganized that it starts to affect your performance, then you might need to work on time management, the specialty of the efficient thinker. Try to plan out your schedule by calendaring and time blocking, and write an agenda for all of your important events. An agenda can help you to stay on topic and not waste too much time going in different directions. Others can learn from this good example.

If you are unsure on whether you need work in effective or efficient thinking, then it may help to ask others to provide feedback of your performance. This can be done by asking a professional acquaintance or even by asking clients to fill out satisfaction surveys. Some people are willing to give an opinion, especially if they have just paid for your services or if they care about you and helping you advance in your life. Remember to keep regularly taking these surveys so you can compare your present operation to your recent past and monitor your progress. There are free internet survey tools you can utilize to receive valuable feedback.

A proper balance of effectiveness and efficiency will be required in practically every avenue of life, from the work office, to the customer service desk to even the family unit. You want to effectively communicate and deliver a result, but you want to organize your activities so that you make the most of your time.

Being effective and efficient allows you to be even more productive so you can get more done in less time and enjoy more time to do what you really want to do in your life.