High quality work that has taken too much time to produce is less valuable than satisfactory work that has been produced in a fraction of the time. Efficiency is the middle ground between the quality of work and the time used to produce it.
Last week my direct supervisor and I debriefed my performance review results. We assessed my performance according to the following categories: my project goals, service duties, professional competencies, and the core values of the organization. One a scale that ranged from critical to exceptional I averaged on-track, but my efficiency was brought up as a major area for improvement.
I admit that I am a slow worker, and I could see this feedback coming from a mile away. The feeling of eyes glancing over to my computer screen and unsolicited suggestions with the intent of moving me along were all too familiar. Thoroughness is my vice, and although my work is high quality, it takes a lot of time for me to produce it.
This is where school and work differ. In school the time it took for me to complete my assignments was never questioned; as long as the assignment was complete by the due date there were no questions asked. Of course there are penalties for turning in assignments late, and the quality of the assignment is assessed according to a rubric, but in school I was easily able to pass this “efficiency test”.
In contrast to school, at work the time it takes to produce something is just as important as the quality of the end product. An employee is paid according to the amount of time worked with the expectation that a minimum of X amount of work is produced during this time. Time is money in both settings, but when it comes to consistently finding a balance between time and quality, efficiency is more salient in regards to work.
I half-jokingly say that it is a good thing that I am not an employee, but I know I need to improve upon my efficiency. This is a quality that all employees want. Plus it will make my life easier. My plan is to improve gradually by reading articles and books on efficiency, and incorporating efficiency techniques into my daily routine. The goal is to find a middle ground between efficiency and quality. I’ll keep you updated.