Success in Life and Business Rule Two: Recognise the Difference Between Effort and Results

28/03/2014 10:47 GMT | Updated 27/05/2014 10:59 BST

On my last blog, one of the comments was about recognising the difference between effort and results, which become Jack Kershaw's rule 2. Recognise The Difference Between Effort And Results.


I was talking to a business associate last week and he told me this little story;

"Jane worked at a big company in a part-time hourly paid secretarial role. She worked 15 hours a week. She was moving overseas and so she handed in her notice and left. Belinda got the job to replace her. However, Belinda was, to put it kindly, less competent than Jane. She took 26 hours a week to complete the same work that Jane had done in the 15 hours. She submitted time sheets each week and was paid for the full 26 hours she worked. Her boss, the HR and Finance departments all accepted that if she was there for the 26 hours she should be paid for 26 hours. She was being paid for the effort she put in rather than the results she produced."

Imagine if this approach was adopted in the world of sport; Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda completed the Marathon at the London Olympics in the fastest time of 2:08:01. Tsepo Ramonene of Lesotho was the slowest completer in 2:55:54. Kiprotich won Gold and Ramonene got nothing, but if rewarded for 'effort' (if effort is based heavily on time invested as it so often is in workplace reward schemes) Ramonen would have earned nearly half as much again over the guy who won Gold!

No one is suggesting that the winner should take it all (OK, Abba did back in 1980, but that isn't really relevant here) but increasingly we have seen an erosion of the desire to achieve results and a converse championing of the honouring of effort.

Rus Slater, in his book Getting Things Done suggests that this is often started in childhood and goes on:

• You are expected to do an hour piano practice a day, rather than you practice until you can play the piece faultlessly.

You are set a target that related to effort or activity rather than output or success. This then continues:

• Many primary schools now don't play competitive sports; it isn't the winning that counts it is the taking part

• At secondary level you can hand in the same piece of homework several times and improve it each time before it is actually graded, you can take and retake exams as often as you want in order to gain a qualification. This isn't a reward for effort but it is a dilution of the result because it allows infinite iterations and no deadlines.

• At university, so long as you stay the course, it is almost impossible to fail to get a degree.

• And then you get a job with a salary of £XXXX per annum.

• And you go to a lot of meetings where everyone contributes and talks but b*****r all actually gets done!

And of course if you are steeped in this tradition in your young life and early career, you probably don't learn to set results orientated goals when you become a manager, so you find it hard to get your people to actually achieve and the whole thing goes into a vicious cycle.

Maybe we all need to start going for ROWE. Something that is essential in my office environment, over achieving is praised, doing your job... well is what you're paid for, and everyone should go over and above the call of duty.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Jack Kershaw