Efficiency and Effectiveness: How to Achieve Both As a Team

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Efficiency and effectiveness are two distinct – but often conflated – traits of successful teams. But what exactly is the difference? And how can you help your team achieve both? In this post, we unpack each term using practical examples, and show you how you can reach “effective efficiency” in your organization.

Efficiency and Effectiveness: How to Achieve Both As a Team

Read on to find out:

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What is Effectiveness in Management? 

Typewriter with the word
Being effective means being capable of producing the desired result.

Effectiveness is the ratio of your result to your goal.

Effectiveness = result/goal

It means achieving what you set out achieve, regardless of:  

  • How long it takes you.
  • How you get there.
  • How much effort you put in.

Only when you define your goal(s) clearly and correctly can you effectively achieve them. Setting clearly defined goals provides a structured roadmap for your team to follow. This ensures they take the right steps to achieve the desired results.

Those who know what is right will do the right thing.

Socrates, in Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Save unnecessary headaches by starting a task only when you clearly understand the goal.

A Practical Example of Effectiveness

Let’s say your team’s goal is to complete more tasks in less time. Possible solutions include:

  • Hiring more employees,
  • Working with an external agency,
  • Investing in coaching for all employees,
  • Purchase and implement task or project management tools.

Wondering how to assess your team’s effectiveness? Effective teams harness their strengths and focus on delivering results for customers. Keep this in mind as you calculate team effectiveness.

What is Efficiency in Management?

Efficiency = optimizing resources to produce the best results.

Efficiency is the ratio of your result to your effort.

Efficiency = result/effort

Efficiency means achieving a desired outcome with as little effort as possible. Being efficient means you are competent, capable, and reliable. Stakeholders can trust that you complete necessary tasks while conserving valuable resources like:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Headcount
  • Etc.

Whereas effectiveness is measured by results, efficiency is all about the process. Like effectiveness, you need clearly defined goals to be efficient. After all, you need to know what you’re working towards so you can determine the most efficient way to get there.

Efficiency is intelligent laziness.

Gräfin Fito

Suppose you’re assigned the task of providing monthly updates to your team. Let’s assume that part of your goal is also to provide clear and transparent updates that are easy to understand. What would be the most efficient way to execute the task and achieve the desired outcome?

Would it be effective to create those updates using a typewriter? Yes, but it wouldn’t be the most efficient way to do so. Using a typewriter will take more time than necessary which, by definition, is an inefficient exercise. Instead, a more efficient workflow would be to:

  • Use a computer with proper editing and formatting software.
  • Automate the workflow using a pre-built template.
  • Share the updates via email or internal communications channels.
  • Include team notifications in your task management app that automatically notifies your team of updates.

A proven way to think and operate more efficiently is by using the Pareto principle. Also known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto principle hypothesizes that you achieve 80 percent of a goal with only 20 percent of the work.

A Practical Example of Efficiency

Planning and organization help your team become more efficient and effective. Having clearly defined goals sets the agenda for the team’s workflows. Project and task management software helps you structure those workflows with:

  • Task assignees
  • Deadlines
  • Timelines
  • Project Overviews

Capterra lists almost 400 task management tools that help teams efficiently manage projects. If you’re overwhelmed by all these choices (we understand!), simplify your research by using MeisterTask to align your team with secure task management.

MeisterTask helps teams just like your own get more work done. Feel free to compare all the tools yourself, or take the shortcut and see why MeisterTask is the easiest (and safest!) task management system.

Efficiency vs. Productivity

There is a widespread misconception that efficiency is synonymous with productivity. However, there is a subtle difference between the two:

  • If you want to increase efficiency, you must reduce resources to complete tasks
  • On the other hand, to increase productivity, you must improve results with a fixed amount of available resources

What is the Difference Between Efficiency and Effectiveness?

Efficiency and effectiveness visualized
Which path would you choose?

They say a picture paints a thousand words, and that’s one of the most efficient and effective ways to garner new information. The picture above is the best visual representation of how to think and operate more efficiently and effectively. You acquire knowledge using less time and with less effort.

The following image also provides a transparent overview of the differences between effectiveness and efficiency in management:

Efficiency and effectiveness matrix
the “BCG matrix” for effectiveness and efficiency.

Can you absorb information more efficiently with a list instead of a picture? Then this list is for you:

The differences at a glance.

Efficiency or Effectiveness: Which is More Valuable for My Team?

Great projects need both effectiveness and efficiency.

Your team is effective but inefficient. Therefore, you’re completing the right tasks but using too much time, personnel, or monetary costs to complete your workflows.

Conversely, if your team works efficiently but not effectively, you’re completing tasks with minimal effort. However, you’re prioritizing the wrong work, leaving you short of your intended goals.

There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.

Peter Drucker, Management Consultant and Author

Efficiency and effectiveness require concrete goals to build a workflow around. Set your goals and create a working calendar that lists all milestones in pursuit of your goal. The rule is that effectiveness always comes before efficiency, but they must work together to deliver the perfect result for your projects.

Here’s What Happens If You’re Only Effective or Efficient:

  • Efficient but ineffective: Your team completes tasks in very little time, but you don’t contribute to the company’s short or long-term success. As a result, management and teammates feel unsatisfied.
  • Not efficient but effective: Your team completes a task for the company, but it takes too much time. The result is that success comes far too late, leaving the organization burnt out and demoralized.
  • You’re neither efficient nor effective: Your team lacks clear instructions on what to do, causing workflows to go around in endless circles. You spend too much time and bandwidth on low-priority tasks which restricts progress.
  • Efficient and effective: Your team completes all tasks in the least amount of time. Therefore, customers, managers, and team members are equally satisfied, leading to healthy growth and repeat business for the organization.

You work most successfully when you see both sides of a problem. Adopt a strategic and tactical mindset to learn how to work effectively and efficiently as a team.

How Can I Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of My Team Today? 10 Tips.

Give your team more energy with effective and efficient project workflows.

Now you’re more informed about the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. The next step is to apply those learnings to make your team more efficient and effective.

Here are some helpful hints to become a more productive team!

Get your team working more effectively and efficiently today with our ten tips and resources:

  1. Analyze your goals. Reflect on your goals and determine if you’ve mapped them out appropriately. Then, decide if you must start anew or revise how you’ll achieve your goals.
  2. Have an honest assessment of your effectiveness. Are your projects and tasks aligned with your team goals and company goals? Evaluate whether your tasks move the needle toward achieving your project milestones. If the answer is anything other than yes, reset your task management workflow.
  3. Look for causes of inefficiency. Make notes or create a Mindmap of your current project management workflow. Determine what barriers or roadblocks are causing problems that impede progress. You can find five of the most common causes of team inefficiencies in our guide on 8 strategies to improve teamwork efficiency.
  4. Simplify your team management. Use these 6 team management tips to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  5. Increase the team performance of your team. Follow these motivational guidelines to maximize team performance. It’s that simple!
  6. Take a closer look at how you assign resources to complete projects. Any project management guru will tell you that resource efficiency increases team effectiveness. Learn how to set appropriate project timelines and budget for the right resources and increase success. 
  7. Increase productivity in your team. Help every teammate manage their time so they become more efficient and effective. These 3 proven time management methods will help your teammates complete their workflows faster and easier.
  8. Recognize the 5 warning signs of poor team communication. Poor communication creates redundancies and misalignment, triggering inefficient workflows and reduced team effectiveness. Learn how to improve team communication and maximize performance.
  9. Reflect on whether there is still room for improvement in your project collaboration. There are always improvements to be made in any operating workflow, but you need open dialogue with various teammates to identify those areas of improvement. Follow these tips to focus on collaborative project management.
  10. Don’t decide everything on your own. The whole point of a team is to delegate and share responsibilities. Recognize how more efficient you can be with team decision-making.

Unlock efficiency and effectiveness quickly with MeisterTask!

On to Effective and Efficient Projects!

Effective efficiency achieved – and your whole team is happy.

Now, you know how to communicate the difference between efficiency and effectiveness to your team. Use everything you’ve learned today as a guide to set them on the path to more successful collaborations.

Focus on doing what is right and naturally optimize for effectiveness and efficiency. When your team operates at maximum effective efficiency, you’ll increase your team’s performance and achieve your collective goals within the organization.

Use the insights and tips from this article to make your team projects even better to drive forward. Today is the perfect day to take the first step and help your team become even more successful and effective in the future.

Good luck!

Embrace the Art of Efficiency.

Empower Your Team To Perform.

Try MeisterTask now


What Is Effectiveness?

Effectiveness means having the ability to achieve a desired result or having the ability to produce a desired outcome. When quantifying effectiveness, take the ratio of the achieved result to the predetermined goal. Effectiveness is goal-oriented, and you must set clear goals so your team can focus on producing results and satisfying stakeholders.

What Is Efficiency?

Efficiency means achieving a goal using minimum effort, energy, or capital resources. You can calculate efficiency by taking the ratio of the result to the intent. The delta evaluates performance against the quantity of expended resources. You can classify resources as time, money, personnel, or a combination.

What Is the Difference Between Efficiency and Effectiveness?

Effectiveness is outcome-oriented, measuring if your team achieved the desired goals laid out at the beginning of a project. Efficiency focuses on the operational workflow, evaluating if you complete tasks using the fewest resources. Effectiveness is about achieving your goal, while efficiency is about completing the work with minimal effort.