Doing versus achieving

Measuring productivity used to be easy. 

Years ago I had a job changing customer’s addresses in our system after they mailed us a change of address card. Eight hours a day I was doing data entry. My supervisor could see my production because I would start with a big stack of cards on my left side, type all day to process the cards, and then restack them on the right side. Was I productive? Hell, yeah! And I had proof. 

Now, it’s different.

How do you quantify thinking?

How do you measure collaboration?

What’s the metric for innovation?

Many have tried using the old tactics of assigning numbers to new work. That strategy is a recipe for heartburn. You can count widgets, you can’t count creativity.

New work requires new systems for leaders to evaluate that work. 

What to do? Stop evaluating what a team member is doing, and start evaluating what a team member is achieving. Two different things. 

“Doing” is short term. “Achieving” is long term. Doing is about being busy. Achieving is about being effective. Doing is about appearances. Achieving is about outcomes. Doing may appear efficient. Achieving may appear disjointed. 

What we are working on in the moment is less important than what we are achieving over time. 

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on December 11, 2019

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