Rigor vs. Effort
Doing things with rigor takes effort, but not everything you put effort into is done with rigor.
We often look at how hard we work as a measure of the quality of our work. But this is wrong. When you are looking at the quality of the outcomes you or your team produce you need to consider two elements:
- Effort – how hard you work at getting the work done.
- Rigor – how well you adhere to the process of getting the work done.
To be efficient and effective in your work you need to be high in terms of both the effort and the rigor which you apply.
An effort is focused on doing the best with the inputs (the tasks), it is about being efficient. Rigour is about focusing on the process of getting the work done, doing it consistently in the manner which has already been determined – this is about being effective. You need to do both to produce long-term quality work outputs. As you can see in the matrix below the level of rigor and effort you make will largely affect your work outcomes.
The Rigor/Effort Matrix
- Low Effort/Low Rigor – this is the worst situation where people, make little effort in getting the work done and when they do, they tend to do it in an ad hoc manner. Processes and/or guidelines tend to be ignored, or not followed properly, and the work produced is poor quality, substandard, and costly (especially as work will need to be either redone or people in this quadrant will need a higher level of management oversight).
- Low Effort/High Rigor – here people, make little effort in getting the work done, however, they do tend to follow the processes/guidelines that are in place. So, although the work produced is of a suitable quality or standard, the work completed or produced does not meet expectations in terms of what need to be done or which has been planned. Again this can result in further costs to the business as either more people are required to produce the necessary volumes, or those who are high producers are put under greater pressure as they pick up the slack. This can lead to them being overworked, stressed and potentially more likely to want to leave for a less stressful job. This can result in a business losing its best people and retaining the worst.
- High Effort/Low Rigor – people make a lot of effort but do it in an ad hoc manner. This can result in a lot of substandard or poor quality work being produced as they do not follow processes or guidelines. This can lead to a lot of waste, rework and may necessitate a lot of investment in quality control to try and manage the symptoms of low rigor.
- High Effort/High Rigor – here people make a considerable effort, are engaged, and do good work on a consistent basis. This produces great work for customers, improving customer retention, reducing costs, and improving revenue and profits.
Use this tool to assess where the individuals in your team are. Assess their level of effort (1=very low, 10-very high), and the level of rigor they demonstrate (1=very low, 10-very high). From this plot them on the chart.
For each individual then determine where you want them to be and identify three actions that they can take that will help them bridge the gap.
So make the effort and be rigorous in doing it! Remember, doing things with rigor takes effort, but not everything you put effort into is done with rigor.
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