There are many ways to judge how well someone is doing their job, but I’ve been thinking about three primary ones — hours, output, and results — and the impact they have on each other.
If you’re judged on hours, you likely have to show up at an office, log your time, and directly trade time for money.
Lawyers and consultants are judged this way, where billable hours and utilization are the main metrics. These firms charge their clients some crazy amount for each hour of their employees’ time, so it makes sense to maximize the number of hours worked.
Another form of being judged by hours is how big corporations do it.
These large organizations force you to work in the office from 9–5 and as long as you show your face and maybe get some work done, you’re all good. Many times it doesn’t really matter how much work has been done in that time, as long as the time gets logged. Ever see Office Space? You know what I’m talking about.
Being assessed by output is different, of course.
If you’re a sales rep, you may be judged on the amount of sales calls you make or appointments you book.
If you’re a content marketer, you may be assessed by the number of blog posts you publish.
Software developer? Your main metric might be how many lines of code you create.
Judging by output is certainly better than assessing by time spent, as there is evidence that work has been done.
Results is where the rubber meets the road.
If you’re a lawyer, did you win or lose the case?
If you’re a consultant, did your strategy get implemented, and was it effective? How did it impact your clients’ bottom line?
If you’re a sales rep, how much revenue did your sales calls bring in, and what is your win rate?
Nearly every job can be measured by results, which is the best measure of effectiveness. Unfortunately not every company chooses to do so.
The interaction between hours, output, and results
These three criteria don’t exist in their own vacuums.
High output can potentially lead to great results.
More blog posts written can lead to better search engine optimization (assuming the posts are high quality), which can lead to more web traffic and sales.
More sales calls can lead to more revenue. Even if you have a low win rate, the more calls you make, the more deals you may be able close.
While more code may not necessarily mean better software, the more code you write, the better you’ll get at software development, which will lead to better software.
And if you work hard, create a lot of output, and see good results, you may enjoy your work more and create even more output.
But more hours won’t necessarily lead to more output or better results.
A law firm can pile on the hours and still lose the case. A consulting firm can deploy a ton of consultants’ time and come up with the wrong solution.
And it’s these companies that judge effectiveness on hours worked that are being disrupted. The consulting industry is undergoing change, while the legal industry is in decline.
On a personal level, more hours may be detrimental to your output and results, as you might burn out and wind up hating your job.
So take a moment and think about how your work is being judged, and whether you want to be assessed in that manner.
If not, what will you do about it?