Many people want to work smarter, not harder, but what does that mean and how do you do it?
1) What does “working smarter, not harder” mean?
Working smarter rather than harder means figuring out the essence of what needs to be done and pursuing the most efficient way to accomplish it. This contrasts with simply putting more effort into a fixed way of doing something.
2) Why do some employees do a better job of doing it than others?
Some employees work smarter because they take time to understand what needs to be done and why it’s important. They identify alternatives and gather input from the experience of others before jumping to a solution. They assess the pros and cons of their choices and choose a desirable path and a backup solution. When they hit obstacles, they evaluate their progress and make adjustments (maybe pivoting to the backup solution) instead of knocking their heads against the wall.
3) How can leaders help their employees work smarter?
Leaders need to help employees use smart processes for solving problems and doing their work. For example, ask your team member to develop a quick action plan before diving into a new project that’s going to take 2 hours or more. In 10 to 15 minutes, he or she can sketch out answers to what needs to be done, why, how, who needs to be involved, resources required, impact on other priorities, and reporting needs. When the leader and employee review this information together, they can see if better, smarter approaches are possible. This investment of a few minutes pays huge dividends in more successful results.
Working smarter not harder is worth the effort.