Do you know someone who confuses activity with productivity?

One of the definitions of “low value people” – yes that sounds hurtful – are people who confuse the concept of activity with productivity. You will often hear them say with great pride about “how busy they are”! Or I was so busy, I didn’t get anything done!

But what separates “high value” people from “low value” people?

Most problems are “who” problems – not what, how, specific tasks – yes, we often have procedural break downs, processes that are flawed and need improvement. But the real challenge is this subtle question of value. High value people understand not only what needs to be done, but also why – so when something isn’t working, they recognize it and more importantly, they understand “why” and are capable of correcting course, making the adjustments necessary, and getting back on task – often quickly before anyone notices or even knows.

We contrast this high value experience with the low value problem of the task oriented person who is great at following a checklist, perfectly capable of getting things done when minimal effort is required, but unfortunately when something goes wrong doesn’t understand “why” and more often doesn’t recognize that something isn’t working or the negative impact the problem is creating for others (because hey – the checklist got successfully completed) …

These are value destroyers – not value creators – they may get work accomplished in the short-term, but at what destruction and cost in the long term?

Unfortunately – all too often in many organizations – the Peter Principle ( kicks in – and the institutional destruction begins. The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to “a level of respective incompetence”: employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.

So do you know that great supervisor who proudly talks about how busy they are?

Or do you know the supervisor how quietly surrounds themselves with top-quality A-Team players and successfully delegates and let’s their team run …

Want to read more about how to spot low quality behavior? There is a quote I can’t find the source for – you don’t hire a top quality guard dog and then try to do the barking for them. More to come …