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Productivity Vs Effectiveness

by Shannon Walsh


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In the challenging world of interim management, how do you ensure you're working effectively?

Being productive is vitally important to every organisation, but spending all day ticking items off your to-do list that aren’t pushing your business or project forward can be less useful than focusing on the one task that will really move you towards your goal.

I’ve found that without doubt, the interim managers who build the most successful careers are those that are able to quickly identify key issues and focus in on solutions in the most effective way.

As an interim, there are some things in your favour. More often than not, you are brought in to deliver on a specific project. Your targets or objectives should have been established at the outset, hopefully you know exactly what you need to deliver and by when.

There is no doubt that having a fixed brief makes it easier to work effectively. However, that’s not to say that working effectively is the default for all interims. It’s human nature to get distracted by the low value tasks that are easy to tick off the to-do list, so in this article we look in more detail at productivity and effectiveness and give our tips on how you can be more effective in your work.

What is productivity?

Researchers have long sought to figure out how organisations can make the most of the resources at their disposal to maximise their output. This measure of efficiency is what we call productivity.

In the modern workplace, there are various ways that managers can improve productivity, such as adopting useful technology, being more organised and finding ways of managing employees to get the best out of them. This is all very important, but while being more productive means we're getting more work done, it fails to address the actual value of what we're producing.

Why is effectiveness so important?

More recently, the importance of working effectively, rather than simply focussing on productivity, has come to be understood by industry. If we're being effective, it means that not only are we getting a lot done, but we're doing the right things too – tasks that are bringing value back into the business. This is harder to measure than productivity, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important – far from it.

Deep down, we know when we've been putting our focus on the right things and when we haven’t. We've all had those moments where we look back on our day and feel like we've been working non-stop and yet somehow, we seem to have achieved very little of worth. In hindsight, we may realise that that we haven't really planned our time to get the most out of it, often putting off that one job, project or process that is truly most important.

To be genuinely effective, it's these crucial tasks that we need to be placing more focus on – and a lot of the time, this is more about working smarter than working harder.

So how can we work more effectively?

In 'The 7 habits of highly effective people', Stephen Covey outlined key principles that can help individuals become more effective in their work and daily lives. While all of these habits can help businesses succeed, the third one in the list – 'put first things first' – is central, as it highlights the importance of focusing on the most important activities that really make a difference to the standard of our work.

Working effectively is about more than prioritising those tasks we consider to be most important; it's also vital that we take care of ourselves as individuals to ensure we can produce the best possible results. This includes things like rest, recreation and exercise that help make us effective. When we rest for example, not only are we allowing our batteries to recharge for future tasks, but we are actively contributing to our effectiveness because our subconscious mind will naturally apply itself to solving problems we've been working on. Think back to your last lightbulb moment – was it while your mind was actively engaged in a relevant task, or did it strike during a break, while you were in the shower, or focused on other things? When we switch off, our mind releases the need to find solutions through logic and opens up to creative thinking instead.

Another great way to maximise your effectiveness is to get to know how you produce your best work, and work with that rather than trying to force yourself to change. The honest truth is that most of us don’t work effectively from exactly nine to five. Some of us are early birds, while others are night owls. Get to know yourself. Do you naturally slump after lunch? Are you more effective carrying out bigger tasks in the morning and admin in the afternoon, or vice-versa? Do you prefer to work in a quiet environment, or somewhere with background noise and surrounded by the buzz of others? Discover how, where and when you work best, and structure your day and your working environment around that.

How do you ensure you work effectively? We would love to hear about the challenges you face whilst working to tight deadlines and delivering key projects.

Tile Hill provides Interim Management and Executive Search to help our customers cope with business challenges and deliver change more effectively. When working with us, you can expect to deal with truly capable people who can propel your organisation towards its goals. People who approach their work with energy and positivity and who love their jobs. And people who strive to have the best possible impact on your business and your career. In short we provide Leadership that Delivers.

If you would like to learn more about us, what we do and how the leaders we work with are most effective please get in touch.

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