Be Efficient

Being efficient at work is one of those things people talk about, but not everyone does well. They may think they are efficient, but most people are usually all over the place. For example, perhaps an individual contributor that thinks they must do whatever task comes their way immediately, so prior tasks will wait. Perhaps a manager that thinks that if they don’t do something themselves, it won’t be done properly. People tend to start over-complicating things just because they are smart and they can “see how complicated I made this, that means I am SUPER smart.” None of those things equal efficiency.

Be efficient

I cut my corporate teeth with a company called Grainger Industrial Supply. My initial manager was Steve Rodrigues. I had many great managers while I worked at Grainger, by the way, and Steve was the first. He gave me a chance to put away trailers and to do some customer service work, at a point in my life when it seemed like almost no one wanted to hire me.

Steve is one of the most efficient people I have ever met, and he works at one of the most efficient supply chain companies I have ever seen. Steve and other members of the team at Grainger really taught me how to be efficient – from how you put away a trailer, to how you stage orders for customers, right down to how many steps it takes. Be efficient, save time, and make things easier for the long run.

Steve would take a walking wheel to figure out how to make picking items in the warehouse more efficient. Steve not only looked to be efficient, but he would also explain to me why he did the things he did. Five fewer steps to get a top-selling item meant saved time and increased efficiency. Seems like nothing to the uneducated in efficiency, but makes a huge difference over time. Other team members taught me how to pack items properly for shipping, and how to put away a trailer the fastest way possible.

Save time

One of the keys here is that things must be set up properly. That is, take the time at the beginning of the process to lay things out in a way that will make them more efficient as you move forward. Time spent up front usually means time saved as you move forward, as in the case of using a walking wheel to determine the best places to store popular items in a warehouse.

I have taken these lessons and plugged them into most of the jobs I have had. As an SAP Trainer, I asked myself what do these people really need to know, and how can I make this training session better so they can do their jobs?

As a functional consultant for Grainger, my experience doing various jobs became a huge factor in understanding exactly what people did. It also helped me properly configure systems for them. Even as a project/program manager, I realize how much this focus on efficiency has transferred to things I do. If there is an issue in a software development project, for instance, we check the simplest possible issues first and work towards the hardest to resolve –  NOT the reverse, which seems to be how most people want to approach a similar challenge.

Concluding Thoughts

Simple solutions to complicated ones – NOT complicated to simple. You often find that the issue was something simple to resolve. 

Invest the time up front to plan things out properly and make the process efficient, and the end results will be closer to what you want. Be Efficient!