Even in today’s ever-evolving world, a truism exists for organizations and individuals alike. Those who are more successful produce better results than many of their peers. They generally are more efficient at getting things done—and more effective at doing the right things—than their counterparts.

The challenge is to understand the difference. Peter F. Drucker, the famed educator and management consultant, once said, “There is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Therefore, determine what has to be done; then do it with great efficiency.

Time and Expectations
Those of us in the workplace must know what is expected of us as we balance our workloads. It is very important to understand what our options are and what we have to do in our work environment. If we do that well, we will increase our workplace value.

It’s important to know the basics of how things work because it gives us more confidence in ourselves and the quality of our work. It also makes it easier to adapt to a new way of seeing and looking at things from a professional perspective.

Undoubtedly, the workplace has undergone a great deal of change, even in the number of hours in our workday. With the dawn of industrialization, the normal workday was 10 to 16 hours long. Inspired by the Europeans and a desire to improve productivity, Henry Ford ushered in the eight-hour workday in the U.S. in 1914. In this, Mr. Ford was likely less concerned about the human effect than he was about improving workplace efficiency and effectiveness.

In fact, the eight-hour day is a myth. Science says the average worker works eight hours a day, five days a week, and generally, 50 weeks a year—about 2,000 hours. However, with sick days and other time off, the available work year is more like 1,896 hours. Yet, for most of us, it is obvious that knowing how long the average person works each day has little to do with how efficient or productive he or she is. One thing is clear, though: we are all given the same amount of time in any day, and it’s what we do with those 24 hours that counts.

Workplace Culture
Another major issue with regard to effectiveness is workplace culture. Today’s workplace is extremely diverse, and as times change, so must the relationship between coworkers and managers. We must learn to be aware of one another from a cultural background before we can learn to work together efficiently and effectively. We need to realize it’s not so much what we say that matters, but the manner in which we express ourselves, which can adversely affect mutual understanding.

This lack of understanding can be injurious to the work environment, which cultivates the degree of loyalty or disloyalty in the workforce. There has to be balance in the workforce just as there is in any other situation. People of different ages and cultures generally don’t mesh well together; it requires dedication and commitment from us all.

As a general observation, the older generation sees the younger generation as less ambitious, self-absorbed and unreliable. Given these generalities, one generation sees the other as being less-than-adequate workers, which is not necessarily correct. We must learn to appreciate all the differences between the generations—and learn to adapt with them.

Trust and Quality Work
Are you looking to be a more effective employee or employer? If so, increase your awareness of employees in the organization, and improve management appreciation of the working environment.

Employees must be given the incentive to want to come to work every day. Besides the tangible benefits, ensure that employees, including management, are given appropriate compliments when they are warranted. As employees, we must do our best to produce quality work. Think of it in terms of a pay raise or promotion. If we want that raise or promotion, we must produce quality work in the expected quantities that best serves the organization, its customers and us!

The more useful ways we find to increase our productivity, the more our employees or employers will value the relationship that is being built. Work to increase trust by not micromanaging. Make sure that everyone knows the expectations, and give them freedom to feel comfortable in their work environment. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the late quality management giant, said we must “drive out fear” in the workplace. Stop checking on them every five minutes, and you’ll find trust, cooperation and generally higher levels of productivity.

The Effective Workplace
Consider these tips as a guide to strengthening the employee-employer relationship. The result will be employees who want to come to work—so attendance improves, and turnover declines. Workers who are more content produce quality work (effectiveness) at more efficient rates; the result is increased sales and profitability.

In a truly effective workplace, we know what’s important, we manage time well, we communicate clearly, we’re more sensitive to the needs of others, and we have good attitudes. Effective workers are often the most respected and most productive in the workplace. Often, they are the first to be considered for merit bonuses and promotions, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

It’s definitely worth the effort to build employee skills. Make sure to devote time and money toward further learning and career development. We never know how or when these new skills will pay off for all concerned. iBi