With the increasing competition, each and every employee is expected to make a unique contribution, so that the business organisations will beat competitors in the industry, creating values and satisfaction for consumers. It is under these circumstances that an employee that works only eight hours per day will no longer get promoted and considered to be an asset for the company. In other words, working hard for making strategies work out in the market is a must in this respect.
People that have reached the zenith of success do not hesitate to give the credit to hard work. Moreover, we have seen renowned persons explaining how they could overcome difficulties by working hard. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples how hard workers have failed at schools and workplaces as well. At your school, you may have come across hard-working friends that scored so poorly at examinations. If so, it has to be mentioned that hard work alone will not deliver better outcomes.
To begin with, let me narrate a story which you are likely to be familiar with, as it clearly differentiates smart work from hard work. Two persons, woodcutters by profession, were assigned to cut trees and told that their salary would depend on the number of trees that they cut. One woodcutter continued cutting trees even without a break, even if his friend cut trees down and sharpened his axe, while having a rest. However, at the end of the day, the latter had cut more trees. Accordingly, the massage that it delivers is that hard work doesn’t always work. The first woodcutter fully concentrated on cutting trees alone and had no time to sharpen his axe.
People sometimes get so busy that they don’t take time to sharpen the axe which can be social contacts, communication skills, leadership skills, empathy and many more not mentioned here. From hard work, we can learn about smart work. Hard work means to give more time on a particular work to get more practice and experience. Smart work means to do a particular work with the right skills which are expected to get basically by being exposed to the areas at which one has to work.
There should be a culture within an organisation which promotes an atmosphere where the employees can diligently work. To increase the productivity and efficiency, an employee working hard ought to be turned into an employee working smart. A proper training is an essential component in this regard. Even though employees work hard, their contribution may be poor. They don’t know how to work smart. All these things could be an outcome of lack of training. Furthermore, the hard-working employee is easy to be trained and then developed, as he has a real intention to be developed, that is why, he is working hard.
The latest technology paves the way for the employees to work smart. Things like telecommuting and e-commerce have come up with the blessing of the latest technology and encouraged employees to work smarter. Therefore, it is up to the superiors to create a culture always updated with the technology, so that smart employees can bring comparative advantages for the company.
What is more important to be noted is that the attitudes that a smart employee possesses spill over into the minds of others in the organisation. Hence, teams consisting of smart people add a unique value to the organisation. Innovative culture does a lot to prepare the ground in which people always question as to why it should be and shouldn’t be. Questioning results in innovation and then, smart workers come up with sophisticated and comfortable ways of doing things. So, these are based on the culture.
An employee must be encouraged and motivated to work hard or smart. Different people are motivated by different things like money, satisfaction, freedom and opportunity to learn so and so forth. Consequently, employees must be confident that their dedication will be rewarded.
A hard worker spends a lot on doing a task, when a smart worker finds new solutions to do the same within a short period of time. The outcome is that the smart worker gets promoted and rewarded, while the hard worker becomes disillusioned with the organisation, being less enthusiastic at work and complain that people that don’t work get promoted. Employees of this kind are not fully engaged at work, creating a situation going from bad to worse. Therefore, hardworking employees should be trained to be smart at work. If not, their labour is in vain.
Smart work comes from your experience, especially your exposure. Hard work and smart work both are interconnected with each other, as the employee needs a mixture of hard work and smart work to carry out his duties smoothly. Accordingly, the formula for success is to be a hard worker and then a smart worker.
(Amila Muthukutti holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Colombo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)