If you work in the federal government, you struggle with this notion of real effectiveness verses apparent effectiveness. I think this is one of the reasons millennials are running away from the federal government like a herd of cats at a dog convention. They come into the federal government with the goal of being effective, stimulating change and producing real world results. Unfortunately, they find a federal workplace more concerned with apparent effectiveness.
What is the difference between real effectiveness and apparent effectiveness? Real effectiveness is essentially the output requirements of your job. Real effectiveness answers the question what have you done and how do your measurable and verifiable outputs accomplish the mission of the organization.
Apparent effectiveness is the appearance of your effectiveness by observation. It answers questions like:
• How do you look on the job?
• Are you on time?
• Are you a good team player who plays nice?
• What are your skills, experiences and education?
• What is your potential?
• Are you are articulate?
Essentially, apparent effectiveness answers the question “do you look the part.” We hear references to apparent effectiveness in sports all the time in the evaluation of talent. They are a can’t miss prospect. They have success written all over them. They are a five tool player.
Apparent effectiveness only answers the question of potential and not talent. The ultimate judgement of talent is can you produce not do you have the potential to produce.
Imagine what the world would have been like if Albert Einstein’s potential was judged on the way he looked. He would have never been able to get a job based on 21st Century standards of physical appearance and body language likeability.
Unfortunately, a lot of work in the federal government is based on apparent effectiveness:
• How many meetings did I attend?
• How many contacts did I make?
• How many presentations did I give?
• How many reports did I write?
Real effectiveness would answer the questions:
• What did I accomplish in the meetings?
• How did my contacts help me serve my customers?
• How did my presentations further the goals and objectives of my team?
• How did my reports tell the story of my organization?
Organizations that emphasize real effectiveness over apparent effectiveness drive out politics and game playing in the workplace. Instead of rewarding sucking up at work, these kinds of work environments recognize truth telling and showing up at work as our real selves.
Are you a public servant that is apparently effective and efficient by doing things right? Or are you a public servant who is really effective by doing the right thing? Our taxpayers would like to know?
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