Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Billy’s Fiftyth Law: Effort is important…results are critical

Do or do not…there is no try.
Yoda to Luke Skywalker The Empire Strikes Back

A friend recently asked me, “In a start-up, how do you manage effort.”  This is an intriguing question. On the one hand, we learn the importance of trying hard…but on the other hand, effort without results is a recipe for disaster.
The question is not in managing effort, but in measuring a variety of outputs.  For example, suppose we have two companies in services.  The first company bonuses employees based on the number of billable hours they generate.  The top output, therefore, is billable hours.  The second company values marketing.  They have a formula that gives a percentage of revenue to any client an associate brings to the firm, regardless of who does the work.  The measured output here is customer acquisition and retention in addition to the work done. 

Some places measure effort in working hours.  Others on a series of objective and subjective measures.  All of this begs the question; is effort important?

Effort is measurable and valuable in one area, improvement.  Improvement is change in measurable output.  Sales went from X to Y…unit production went from X units/ hour to Y units per hour.  This helps those people with potential who get off to a slower start, but may well prove valuable to the company in the future.

Effort usually turns into results.  Coaching and management help people channel effort into the right direction and achieve the result they ultimately desire. Effort is important, but results drive your business forward. 
Sometimes effort is a measure of potential.  If that potential is not turning into results, perhaps you have the individual in question in the wrong position.  The effort is not turning into results.  This is the ‘square peg in the round hole’ syndrome. If somebody is trying hard, but not achieving the desired result, despite your best efforts in coaching and training, perhaps you need to find another place for the individual.  In today’s labour market, it is difficult to find hard working people.  Unfortunately, if you cannot find a place to take advantages of great effort in an area that will achieve results, then they should move on. 

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