Are your employees efficient or effective?

Home Column Are your employees efficient or effective?

(First in a series) By Lisbeth Calandrino Across many retail industries, flooring included, business owners employ a practice known as benchmarking to see how they stack up against other competitors in their field. (“Benchmarks” are considered the “what” that needs to get done to produce the best results, while “benchmarking” is “how” it gets done.)

Benchmarking is not a quick or simple process, but if you follow the “what” it’s likely your business will show improvements. The difficult part of the process is getting people to do the things that create change.

My master’s studies were in the psychology of business—the concept of efficiency vs. effectiveness sticks in my head like an earworm. The idea was coined by management guru Peter Drucker. According to Drucker, efficiency is doing things right and getting things done, while effectiveness is more about the right priorities and measuring results. This idea of efficiency vs. effectiveness is an important concept for any business owner, but especially floor covering retailers.

What does this mean to your business? If you want things done with the least amount of wasted time, you are talking about being efficient. In a small business like a floor covering store, there are often limited people and resources, so it’s wise to maximize every resource available to the business so you can keep the business moving forward and running like a well-oiled machine.

For example, let’s say employees are tasked with making 10 calls a day to get new leads, and some days they even make 15 calls but don’t close any. There could be various reasons why they don’t close them, but they will tell you they’re getting the job done and being very efficient. Although they are being efficient, per se, you may not want to waste any more time and move on to a more effective strategy.

Managers will tell you things are getting done. The pile of papers is getting smaller; the installers are on site. The manager is seeing that the job is getting done. That’s the manager’s job, but are they being effective?

The job of management is to set future goals and keep the business moving forward. Oftentimes managers get overwhelmed with being so efficient, they forget the business of management. They believe by being efficient and getting things done they are moving the business forward. Unless they focus on the tasks that are effective, they’re not helping the business.

Lesson in discipline

Years ago, I attended a personal growth workshop in which the instructor emphasized the importance of executing only those tasks that were essential to supporting the growth of the business. He encouraged all attendees to constantly reevaluate any and all functions they perform to ensure that only those tasks that support the business in an effective (not just efficient) manner are to be continued.

So, ask yourself this question: Are your employees producing long-term results? It’s a good conversation to have with them on an ongoing basis as you examine your business. Remember, at the end of the day, a successful business must determine what’s most effective for its long-term growth and survival and yet be efficient in getting it done.


Lisbeth Calandrino has been coaching business owners and promoting retail strategies for several years. If you want to learn how to get this done, connect with Lisbeth about the workshop, Managing the Customer Experience. Email Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or visit her website at lisbethcalandrino.com.

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