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Recognizing "Smart" Performance Can Be Difficult
The monthly performance recognition awards have come round again but, once more, Fiona White is sure she won't be featuring. Fiona is a consistent administration worker. She is well organized and clears her desk of the day's work without making fuss or having 5-minute panics like some of the others seem to do. She often helps these people out because she has enough control over her own work to be able to reschedule things. However she is not a high profile earner for the company. She'll never make the big sales, negotiate the mega-deals or save the business thousands through the work that she does.
She knows she is one of the better performers in her field but does anyone else? Ever since the advent of 'time and motion' studies there has been an understanding of the difference between working hard and working smart. Some individuals prefer to work in a state of chaos. It provides them with the challenge that perhaps the job does not. They can battle disorganization instead of strolling along doing the job. Making substantial achievements for them always has the appearance of running a marathon.
Smart workers, on the other hand, may appear to be doing the equivalent of cycling downhill with their feet on the handlebars because they have the job so well structured. They know that both sets of results, from the hard and the smart approaches, have equivalent value and they would be very unhappy if their sweating co-worker was rewarded with praise and they were not. The people working at the coal face of the business often know how to get results that will attract recognition. That they don't do this permanently is a reflection of their motivation and their understanding of the market value for their effort. This can be seen most clearly where staff are paid minimum wage. If more effort can achieve greater income through bonuses, overtime or a performance recognition system they would prefer to utilize this rather than make themselves more efficient. These views of performance might provide a confusing picture but all they really do is prove that a "job well done" must be seen in context. A coat of paint never did cover up poor workmanship and most jobs can be broken down into the important stages of: planning and preparation material sourcing and processing component production quality checking components product assembly function testing quality checking product packaging delivery Even a written document, a software program or a product design has to follow these steps otherwise the whole thing will come back and bite your ankles. Good performance worthy of praise will inevitably be a subjective judgment; however checking back to make sure that the relevant steps have been followed will help to put things in perspective. Fiona White's manager would need some pretty sophisticated radar to discover how well she was really working because, let's face it, she may never get round to self-promotion.
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