Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Efficiency and Flexibility: Recommended Approaches
Take your pick:
Efficiency and Flexibility: Recommended Approaches

Efficiency and Flexibility: Recommended Approaches

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Identify approaches to efficiency and flexibility as they relate to high performing teams.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

47 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

299 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 33 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

Thank you for joining me for this tutorial on efficiency and flexibility. This lesson discusses efficiency and flexibility within the context of a team. So let's get started.

Let's take a look at our objectives. What is efficiency? What is human resource efficiency? And how can personal efficiency be improved. And what is flexibility? So let's get right into it?

What is efficiency? Efficiency is the ability to achieve goals with minimal waste of resources. You can see the resources here that I have on the left.

Human resources-- these are the people, the talent, the skill set. Material resources are the equipment, facilities, natural resources needed. And of course, financial resources-- the cash or the source of funding.

The results are broken out into three categories. Scope-- this is the quantity created, range of elements that we need. Quality-- how well the work is going to be done. And timeline-- how quickly the work can be done.

So the degree of efficiency can be thought of as what we need for results. The degree of efficiency is thought of as the results achieved relative to the amount of resources used. Optimal efficiency can be thought of as getting the most that you possibly can out of what you have, or the best results with the least resources used.

So you can imagine that context is extremely important when optimizing efficiency. Just because one set of changes has the greatest impact on efficiency does not mean it is the most desirable set of changes in a given context. When improving efficiency, it's important to begin by establishing which factors are relatively fixed and which factors are relatively flexible.

The degree to which these factors are fixed or flexible are based on organizational goals and parameters-- for example, if a company needs to produce 200 widgets by January 4, or the company may have a limited budget in the form of a grant, that kind of thing. Efficiency within a given set of activities ideally increases with time until a state of maximum efficiency has been achieved based on the current resources.

Well, here's a simple illustration of a process. Let's say we're moving along in a process and we discover at some point we need to add a responsibility or a task. Now the scope that was once fixed, now the scope changes.

Now a team member raises their hand to say this added responsibility is now widening the scope. And if you widen the scope, we're going to need more time. So they all impact each other.

And let's say you want higher quality. Well, that may take more time.

Let's talk about human resources efficiency, otherwise known as workforce productivity. Overall efficiency is impacted not only by which resources are used in which ways, but also how efficient an individual resource is in and of itself. Workforce productivity can be evaluated at any level-- the individual, team, department, and organizational levels.

In the case of an individual resource, efficiency may be impacted by experience with work, related work. How has their quality of training been? What is their educational background? And what is their natural aptitude in a work environment? Do they have good work habits? Individual efficiency can be improved by ensuring that individuals are assigned to tasks that they're well suited for and they receive adequate training and onboarding.

Feedback, whether it's positive or negative, impact individual productivity. Effective feedback is crucial to optimizing productivity.

At the team level, additional factors come into play. This includes clarity of goals, roles, and responsibilities.

Quality of communication-- do they trust each other enough to raise red flags when they're seeing some obstacles? Is there a nice balance of skills, abilities, and experience? Are their perspectives, well-balanced?

Are they a diverse team? Do they have collective ability to handle change and remain flexible and embrace ambiguous situations? These are all taken into account of workforce productivity.

Now that we identified factors that influence workforce productivity, how can we improve personal efficiency? There are many things someone can do if they're looking to improve their own efficiency.

Clarifying requirements, wasting too much work, adding bells and whistles, or achieving unnecessary level of quality can get in the way. Establish the desired level of quality and scope early on to avoid inefficiencies in this area.

Keep your eye on the goals. Keeping the high-level goals in mind can help clarify thinking and avoid losing time, making difficult decisions when there are multiple options relative to how to proceed.

What are the dependencies? When one task is dependent on another, time may be wasted if a handoff is missed or if the wrong task is completed first. Make sure your priorities match the priorities of your team and the organization as a whole, and communicate your challenges and obstacles.

Time can be lost struggling with a challenge or a difficult decision that might be quickly solved if other team members were brought in. Be sure to share your strengths and your challenges. It's important to communicate when a particular task is not a good fit. That's OK.

Someone else might be able to complete it with much greater efficiency. And there might be a role that is a better fit for you. Leveraging your colleagues is important.

If a particular task is well suited for you, but part of that task is out of your zone of expertise, call someone in who's knowledgeable rather than trying to muddle it through yourself. Be sure to ask for feedback if tasks are unclear or if it's inefficient. Ask your supervisor or direct reports for feedback.

And be willing to change your approach. Try something new. Think outside the box, especially if a current approach is not working for you, if it's not efficient.

So on the topic of having an open mind and trying new things, it's a good time to talk about flexibility. Flexibility is defined as the ability to handle change well. Since change is a constant element for any organization, it's valuable to be flexible. And it's even more valuable to develop a flexible team.

Flexibility may include the ability to handle new roles or tasks, the ability to work with a wide range of people, being open to new ideas, techniques, and methods, and be comfortable with altering existing processes or trying new ones.

People who are flexible receive benefits in many ways. They're more likely to be given new tasks or roles since they're more likely to handle the transition well. These new tasks and roles may lead to an enhanced skill set, further enhancing this person's flexibility.

New tasks and work may lead to professional advancement or increased responsibility. Flexible people are better able to contribute to team success. When an individual is successful and the team is successful, morale is high.

For those who are resistant to change, there are ways to improve flexibility. Practice being flexible. Often, we resist change because we think we know how things will turn out.

Oh, it's not going to work, I've done this before. Try saying yes. Recognize that there usually is a reason for change. Most of the time, changes are being implemented or requested in an attempt to improve the overall state.

Although these changes are initially uncomfortable for those who are resistant to change, keep an open mind and allow for the possibility that they will be beneficial in the long run. Remember all those benefits of flexible individuals I've just mentioned.

Along the line of keeping an open mind to new ways of doing things, let's talk about efficiency, flexibility, and change. So when processes have achieved a high level of efficiency or they've settled into a particular approach, there is often resistance to significant changes.

Of course, minor tweaks, minor revisions-- those seem to be OK. Resistance or inflexibility in the situation is common because significant changes almost always result in an initial loss of efficiency. After all, we're developing new parameters, approaches. And new elements are revised or incorporated.

The hope is that the temporary loss of efficiency will propel the overall efficiency of the entire process higher. Since optimizing efficiency involves experimentation, making changes, flexibility of all team members will bring a more rapid improvement to efficiency.

Flexible teams, after all, are able to be more creative since the team as a whole will handle change well, ultimately resulting in greater efficiency and a higher performing team. The thinking here is that taking that risk in a loss of efficiency will bring higher results overall.

So we've come to the end of this tutorial. Let's check our Objectives what is efficiency? It's the ability to achieve goals with minimal waste of resources.

And what is human resource efficiency? We talked about individuals experience with work, their work habits, the training, educational background.

How can personal efficiency be improved? We talked about asking for feedback, clarifying roles.

What is flexibility? This is being open to new roles, tasks, processes, and methods.

Thank you for joining me today for this tutorial. I hope to see you again soon.

Video Transcription