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Productivity vs. Efficiency | 7 Principles to Guide Your Activity as a Leader

Productivity and efficiency are cornerstones of business success, especially as a leader. While they may seem interchangeable, they are different aspects of the same traits that it takes to be a great…

Estimated Read Time:  5 minutes


Productivity and efficiency are cornerstones of business success, especially as a leader. While they may seem interchangeable, they are different aspects of the same traits that it takes to be a great leader or team member.

Productivity tends to represent the more quantitative value, the ability to get the tasks done or develop products, while efficiency relates more with quality, the way jobs are getting done, and how well.

We’ve identified seven principles that will guide your activity as a leader to ensure both productivity and efficiency are maintained.

Principle 1: Measuring Productivity

Let’s first examine how one can determine the levels of productivity.

As a leader, you’ll have to consider what’s being measured and how tasks have to be accomplished. For instance, is it office work or actual physical labor? What steps need to occur to complete the tasks within the parameters set and move to the next?

Only once you’ve appropriately gauged how to measure your team member or team’s productivity markers can you support and assist in how best to motivate their achievements.

Principle 2: Measuring Efficiency

Measuring efficiency takes additional factors into account, such as how resources like time, money, and labor are used.

Efficiency revolves around trying to reduce waste (time, money, labor, etc.). So if you are too concerned with rapid productivity and the result is that efficiency is harmed with wastefulness, then you’ll have to adjust your productivity expectations to be more realistic given the limitations.

For example, if trying to produce a product or output too fast results in numerous mistakes, then money, time, and labor are likely to be wasted in the process of fixing the problem created by a rushed job. The tension and stress of your team are also factors to contemplate.

Principle 3: Provide Detailed Information

As a leader, if you expect your employees or team to get the job done well with both productivity and efficiency in mind, then you need to offer clear, detailed information for them to complete the task.

They should be given as much information as possible so that there is less chance for questions or the need for clarification. Give them all the tools they will need for success from the get-go.

Principle 4: Give Clear Expectations

The clearer the expectations are from the start, the better the chance your staff will meet them. Nothing is more of a waste of productivity and efficiency than a completed task that falls short of the expectations because they weren’t outlined clearly.

As a leader, it is your role and duty to outline expectations initially and provide detailed information and tools for the task. Allow for questions and have your team member repeat the expectations back, so they confirm that they’ve understood.

It may surprise you to realize that something that might seem obvious to you is lost on another person. Clear expectations also give a sense of accomplishment when completed. Once the targets are hit, they can move on, efficiently increasing productivity.

Principle 5: Set Realistic Deadlines

Another fundamental principle that serves productivity is setting realistic deadlines. They offer structure and set goals within a timeframe. Deadlines also help efficiency if there are clear expectations as outlined above.

Before enforcing a deadline, ask yourself: How long does it take to accomplish a task without adding too much stress and pressure? Has the job been completed before by this person on a similar timeline? If it is a product, goods, or services requested by a client that needs to be delivered, is there enough time between their deadline and yours?

Those questions should help you assess what a reasonable, realistic deadline is. A useful tip is to leave a bit of cushion if some revisions or mistakes need fixing. The last thing you want to do is make a deadline too close.

Principle 6: Offer Feedback

Offering constructive yet supportive feedback is critical for maintaining productivity and efficiency. As a leader, this job falls on you to do. While it can sometimes be awkward or uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be.

Be sure to start with something positive that they are doing well before launching into the issue. Then give your staff member clear reasons why something is off and what can be done to improve it. Such lessons taught and understood early on will maximize efficiency in the future.

Principle 7: Create a Supportive Working Environment

A positive work environment could go at the top of the list, but all principles are essential and interchangeable, much like efficiency and productivity.

By creating a supportive work environment, a good leader gains the trust and loyalty of their employees and team members. They will feel confident to come to you with questions if they don’t understand something, feel rewarded with a job well done, and know that constructive criticism will not discourage them.

A great leader makes each team member feel not like a cog in a machine grinding away but a crucial part of making the business function at its best.


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