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Posts Tagged ‘Efficiency’

….you get paid for what you accomplish. Actually that is not true either; you get paid for what you accomplish per unit time. Let me elaborate……

As part of your effort to “be all you can be” in your career, you should constantly be thinking about “what is my company paying me to accomplish?” This could be translated as “how do I add the most value to my organization?” While you are thinking about this and hopefully considering how you can improve and add more value to your organization every day, you should keep in mind that an organization does not pay you for what you do; it pays you for what you accomplish per unit time.

There are two concepts embedded in this statement. The first is that you are not paid for doing things, you are paid for accomplishments (of course you can get paid in the short run for just doing things, looking busy, etc. but the point is that it will not serve you well in the long run). I think this first point is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. It is intuitive that you need to accomplish things important to the organization to optimize your value. The quote “never confuse motion with action” is a nice concise articulation of this concept.

What about the “per unit time” concept. I hear too many students talk about their skills and what they can do without understanding that their organizations will be in a race. It is sometimes more like a marathon and other times more like a sprint, but always it is a race, so time is critical. This means that simply being able to accomplish a particular task does not make you valuable to your organization. How long it takes you will determine if it is of any value or not! Of course, quality and ethics cannot be compromised while searching for the most efficient way to accomplish a task – they are givens. From my discussion with many students, there is an expectation that, like in school, they will have time to study every topic that comes up, weigh their options and make the best choices. Not so! Often your managers, or you when you become managers, will not have the luxury of time. Thus, your performance will be determined by what you can accomplish per unit time rather than simply what you can accomplish. This means a sense of urgency and continuously striving for more efficient ways of accomplishing the same things will be very beneficial in your career. And being able to “know” and implement “on the fly” will be an important skill. As an engineer, it is common to think; “I do not need to memorize that, I’ll look up the equations when I need them” and for the most part this is true. But this is not so true for your role as a manager or project leader. You should constantly be learning new skills and increasing your platform of knowledge in these areas, but you will not want to interrupt meetings and discussions to check your “management 101 notes” every time you need to make a decision.

So the per unit time concept should drive many of your daily decisions about how you conduct yourself on the job and how you spend your time improving your performance. Do not forget the importance of quality and ethics, not to mention relationships, but consistently think about efficiencies and how to make step function changes in what can be accomplished in your world in a given amount of time. Great companies talk about decreasing the time that processes take by two orders of magnitude. This makes you think about entirely new ways of doing things, not just refinements of the current methods. The quote below is a nice way to wrap up this discussion. It is a bit broader than what we have talked about here but the spirit is right on:

Quote from Glen A. Barton: “Great performances come from asking ourselves some basic questions. Why are we doing it this way? How can we do it better? Or faster? Or more reliably? What haven’t we thought of yet? What’s best for our customers? Ultimately, the final judgment on performance comes down to one simple question: Is this the best we can do?

Now I have spent too much time on this blog and my employer is starting to wonder if I am getting enough done …..

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