“Are You Efficient or Effective? Is There a Difference?”

Leaders today must be both efficient and effective to reach company and department goals, to engage employees, to retain more customers and to reduce employee turnover.

Finding someone, anyone who can be both is a rare find, it’s like finding Bigfoot.effective-communication

Most managers, usually excel at one. It may be they are efficient and great at meeting deadlines. But the problem maybe the leader uses a risk or reward style of motivation. If all is going poorly, the threat of working late. If all is going well, pizza Friday.

Effective mangers tend towards building a level of rapport with their team and try to engage them to reach deadlines. The problem here can be that deadlines may be continually moved or missed because managers don’t want to push their team towards efficiency, it may jeopardize the ‘bond’ they have with their team.

A leader can be good at both, efficient and effective. They need to build a level of trust, rapport, and consistency so the team knows exactly what to expect–day in, day out.

First, we need to know the difference between efficient and effective. What I use to remember the difference is this; we are efficient with tools and effective people.

You can see the difference here? There are things that require the manager to be efficient and other things that require being effective.

Try and be efficient and talk to your son or daughter about staying off drugs. “Let’s see, I read a post by Mark Isaac and he wrote I should talk to my son about staying off drugs. But, ‘American Idol’ is on in fifteen minutes, I don’t want to miss that.”

So you go into the kitchen, grab a frying pan and put it on the stove with the heat on high. Then you get an egg. You go to your son and say, “Jr., this hot frying pan is your brain.” Then you crack the egg into the pan and watch it sizzle. “And this is your brain on drugs.”

You may have been efficient, like the famous commercial, but were you effective, was the message received?

Remember, we’re efficient with tools. Computers, calculators, hammers, these are tools to help us be more efficient —they don’t raise our effectiveness, which requires relationship building.

Being efficient and effective requires a leader to be an excellent communicator, empathic to their team, and instill trust.

Are efficient and effective leaders born? Are they from nature or are they nurtured? Is being both a gift? If it is, we’re all in a lot of trouble. How would ever get anything done while waiting for this gifted wonder to come into our place of business?

Clearly they must be nurtured, developed through time and investing in their skills. I have long believed that anyone can be both an efficient and effective leaders by mastering the necessary communication elements that go into building an engaged employee.

What’s needed is a logical, repeatable process managers can go through every time they want to coach and communicate with their team. Some kind of communication tool that can be used in any situation.

Through the years tools have been available to leaders but few have taken advantage of them. In the 1950’s Peter Drucker used what he called, a management letter. In the 1990’s Stephen Covey used what he called a ‘win-win agreement.’

For the past twenty-plus years I have been teaching what I call the ’Mutual Benefits Agreement’ (MBA) in my workshops. It’s a mix of the best of Drucker and Covey. It allows for the input from the team member, set clear deadlines, and looks for possible creative outcomes.

Here are the steps to the MBA. Remember, for this communication tool to work, you must do all the step and you must do them in order. Too many times I hear leaders change the order or leave outsteps altogether.

Desired Results; what gets done and when? It’s very important for the leader to have a deadline that is realistic. This is a good time to ask your team member what they think is a realistic timeframe—you’re demonstrating their input is valuable to you.

Big Picture; what will the end result look like to all involved? There must be a shared vision of what is to be done. This is where a lot of average managers get into trouble, they aren’t clear on what the outcome will look like. It’s important for the leader to paint a big, bright, clear picture of the outcome desired.

Tools available; what tools are needed and available for the completion of the task? Tools available is a critical step, they’re all critical but it’s important for you to spend time on this step. First, after you state the resources always remember to ask the team member what they think they need to get the job done.

This is an important step for a few reasons. First, it gets buy-in from your team. They feel they are part of reaching the outcome. Also, again, you’re demonstrating you value their input, a critical part to engaging them.

Another reason? What if your team member says something you never thought of? That would be a creative outcome and creative outcomes are a sign of an engaged employee.

Check-in Times and Dates; when will participants be held accountable? Depending on the time length of the task, times and dates of check-ins are very important. If you give your team a time to hold them accountable, did you make a promise? Of course you did. Maybe you didn’t say, ‘I promise to check-in on you at…’ but, you made a promise. And what happens if you don’t look in on them? That’s right, you broke a promise. And once a leader breaks a promise he violates a trust and it will take him keeping promises several more times for the team to believe him again. Keep your promises.

Consequences; whether good or bad, what can be expected from either reaching or not reaching the outcome?

Use the MBA in any situation. The idea of the MBA is to give a logical, repeatable process you can use in any situation.

I worked with a telecommunication company in Bogota, Colombia, they used the MBA to collect late cellphone payment and still retain their customers.

“I need to pay your balance by Friday at 5:00. I’ll know you made the payment because I’ll see it posted in your account. You can pay by phone, you can pay on-line, and you can also pay with cash or a check. It’s very important you pay by Friday so, I’m going call you on Thursday to see what your plans are to make the payment. If you don’t make the payment by Friday at five o’clock we will have to cut-off your service until we can work something else out.”

Did you see all the steps to the MBA?

Use the MBA when addressing your team.

“Listen team, by 5:00 today, I want to you all to come up with 50 new ideas of how we can deliver great customer service. They can be ideas that somehow impact the customer in a positive way. You have all day, you have your pads and pens, and you have your wits. Is there anything else you think you may need from me? Pizza for lunch? Sure, I can do that for you. Now it’s important you come up with 50 ideas by five so, I’m going to look in on you around three to make sure you’re on track. When you come up with 50 and we begin to implement them we will be demonstrating to our customers how important they are to us.

One participant from South Carolina came to my workshop in Minnesota. When he learned the steps to the MBA he called home that evening and told his son to clean the garage. It was a few years ago and the consequence was, if the garage was clean, he would take his son to the Harry Potter movie that was popular at the time.

One woman called home and told her husband to clean the bathroom. She told him if he cleans the bathroom by the time she returned home they could spend more time together. I’ll let you decide if the consequence was good or bad.

You can even use the MBA for upwards communication—with your boss. Whenever you’re given an important task–hopefully any task assigned to you is important–you can use the MBA to make sure you have a shared vision.

The key is to get out there and use it. The more you use it the better you’ll get at it and the more it will flow from you. Of course it will seem clunky at first but, the only way to get away from that is to practice using it. Sure your team members and co-workers will look at you as if you are crazy but, that’s OK, the first person to try anything new is view as crazy for a little while.

The MBA works, you have to have faith. I don’t need faith, I know it works. I have been leading workshops for years and the MBA has been a critical part of my workshops. Through the years I have received hundreds of emails from people telling me different success stories that center around using the MBA. Have faith—one of the 7 Slight edges—and use the MBA in any situation.

Please follow me on Twitter @7slightedges


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