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I'm an elitist: Effort does not equal results

I got called an elitist a little while back. I was at a social thing—I think normal people call them ‘parties’. I call them ‘opportunities for me to make an ass of myself’. Here’s the conversation:

Other person: My friend got fired last month. Totally unfair.
Me: mmm hmmmm
I was hoping that’d end the discussion without making me sound disinterested.

OP: He worked really hard. Like, 70 hours/week!
Me: How’d he do?

OP: What do you mean?
Me: Was his work really good?
I start getting a sinking feeling I should’ve shut up.

OP: I dunno. I just know he worked like a dog.
Me: Yeah, but if his code sucked…

OP: So what?
Me: Uhm. It’s just, if he worked that hard, that’s great and all, but if he never finished his projects…

OP: What are you, some kind of elitist?
Me: Er.

I got a beer at that point and slunk off.

I have a lot of respect for effort. I have more respect for results. You’ll get better results, every time, from a happy, motivated team that does a fantastic job 8 hours/day. If you have a frazzled team that’s trying to muddle through in 12 hours/day, it’s not going to be pretty.

I want the former, not the latter. If that makes me an elitist, I guess, so be it.

More about this tomorrow.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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Comments

  1. I had one boss who told me this years ago. I never forgot. “Working a lot doesn’t mean you work well. In fact, most of the time it means you don’t”.

  2. I’ve had similar responses to news of lay-offs.
    There are plenty of people who feel entitled to steady employment.
    I also think it is partially the fault of management. In SEO, we talk about not setting a goal for traffic or rank, but conversion. Perhaps if employees had an idea of what they bring to the business, like sales-people, they’d get more focused. Not always easy to measure though.

    1. Totally agree, Josh. But I believe that’s one of the challenges of the people who run the company. For some areas, it’s tricky to measure. But regardless the type of work, you gotta be able to do that. Even better if it’s created some sort of extra compensation based on results. That will guide your team towards something concrete.

  3. Well said! I often hear similar arguments about how “good of a person” someone is or how many hours they work. They often fail to mention the quality of what they’re doing and how sub-par it is.

  4. I think a big part of this is that “time spent” is a very easy thing to measure. It doesn’t require an analysis framework; the clock does it for you.
    Measuring the quality of a person’s output takes quite a bit more analysis.
    That, and there’s the irritating fact that our system is (on balance) designed to pay people for time, rather than for output. Again, it’s just easier that way.
    But Ian is dead-on. Even a system that pays by the hour expects the work to be done well, and on time. If that’s not happening, the amount of overtime you’re putting in is irrelevant.

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