In my first post for TSBB I gave a definition of Effectiveness as:-
The ability to be resourceful in a way that serves a market, an organisation, a boss, a team etc.
Of course there is another element to the equation which is the ability to do one’s job. This might be called functional ability. It is the element that you illustrate on your CV or resume through your qualifications, experience and achievements; where achievement is seen as evidence of your ability to put into effective practice those qualifications and experience.
There are three elements to any job:
1. What you do.
2. How you do it.
3. Why you do it.
Personal Effectiveness is about understanding how these three elements work together (or not) to deliver performance.
In the industrial age effectiveness was very much about the “what” and “how”. It was characterised by men in white coats carrying clipboards and measuring everything; the time and motion people. The objective was to make sure that people were working as efficiently as possible. We now live in a service based economy where most people are employed to provide a service to others, either internally within the organisation or externally with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. How do you measure efficiency in these situations?
If a customer phones in with a complaint is it right to allocate a fixed amount of time to resolving the problem? Do you relate the amount of time spent to the value represented by the complaint? I’m sure there will be many different views on this, but the point that sits behind it is that for most people nowadays job functionality is not driven by the regularity of the production line.
When it comes to dealing with people differentiating between efficiency and effectiveness can be difficult. If efficiency is doing something as fast as possible and effectiveness is doing the right thing, bringing them together in a people management is a major challenge.
Peter Drucker said “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”. When it comes to people management, how do you define what shouldn’t be done?
The concept of Personal Effectiveness embraces these issues. It is about understanding that the workplace is a dynamic environment and that people have different “why’s”, reasons that they work. Emotions are brought to work; issues that affect people outside of their workplace find their way into the office. Desirable and undesirable behaviours can be identified in company manuals but they can’t be switched on and off like a light bulb. Behaviour is an integral part of what makes each of us unique. It is behaviour rather than skill, knowledge and experience that can be the difference between a superstar and a lead weight.
Personal Effectiveness in today’s workplace is about awareness of the impact of behaviour, as much as the functional aspects of the job, on performance. It’s about the effect that your behaviours have on your colleagues and how that impacts on their willingness to work cooperatively with you and the impact that has on the team. It’s the willingness to accept that there aren’t black and white boundaries between peoples’ life outside work and what they bring to work. Employment law is increasingly forcing employers to take this into account and enlightened best practice is impacting on its adoption; but the individual cannot abdicate responsibility in this area. Continuous Professional Development needs to embrace the “soft” skills of working life as well as the hard functional skills. In time the two types of skill will not be differentiated.