From a business point of view task management thinking and resultsoriented thinking are poles apart.
Task-oriented people can be very focused and committed to reaching the objective of completing their task. They are usually detail-oriented and their focus to achieve can be such that anyone questioning their activities will encounter opposition. They can be quite single-minded in their efforts. Some taskoriented people do see their tasks as important to attaining results and this is a good attitude because there are many tasks necessary to be completed in a business which, in themselves, do not seem to be part of the results-oriented area of the business, such as administration. Some task-oriented people do a task for the sake of completing a task without any thought for why the task was necessary in the first place and what end result is expected. Task-oriented people take a job and immediately break it down into specific tasks and then they complete each task one by one. Although everyone needs to complete tasks, some task-oriented people tend to see the task as ends in themselves.
Unlike task management, results-oriented thinking has tremendous power and produces the outcomes that are desired.
Results-oriented people focus on the desired outcome. When asked what they are doing they are more likely to give you the overall picture including the outcome reached.
The story is told of the building of a cathedral:
A man walked down a street and came to a building site. A workman passed by and the man said to him, “What are you doing?” The workman replied curtly, “I’m laying bricks” and he moved on. The man walked through the site and a little further on met another workman and asked him, “What are you doing?” The workman was in a hurry and as he went by he said, “I’m pouring concrete, don’t bother me.” The man turned around and saw a third workman walking towards him carrying planks of wood and whistling, so he asked him the same question, “What are you doing?” The workman, with a wide grin, said enthusiastically, “I’m building a cathedral.” It’s very obvious that the first two men were task-oriented and were there just to do the job they were being paid for. The third man, although also there to do a task, had caught the vision and saw himself as a part of a completed project. He was very definitely results-oriented.
Too often in business, people get caught up too easily in the mundane day to day activities and lose sight of what should be their main focus – achieving results. This leads to confusion between their activities (the processes) and their accomplishments (the results). Many business people have so many strings to their bow they believe they must be doing well because they are so busy. Too late they find that all that business did not bring in any desired results.
There are several kinds of process-oriented people. There is the person who understands the results that are required but insists on doing it through due process. Unfortunately, because they like the idea of going through the right processes they get bogged down in the tasks and activities they think they need to do and never quite get through to the desired result. Another kind of process-oriented person may not feel good doing the necessary things and might not give his best to the tasks he is given. This could lead to always trying to go the easy way and avoiding the more difficult but sometimes necessary way of getting to the results stage.
Results-oriented people tend to keep the end in mind and they look for the fastest way to get there. They want a result and the direction taken to get it is not important so they focus on the kind of action that will move them towards the result they want. This means that their way to get things done stays very flexible. If one approach doesn’t work they will try another. They don’t get stuck in any of the processes others deem necessary.
A most important point to note is that when they have achieved the results that they wanted they will feel good about themselves and when they feel good about themselves they get more done. So, productivity with an end in mind brings results and results bring more productivity. It is selfperpetuating.
The skills of both results-oriented and task-oriented people are both very important in the world of business, but there are some advantages to the results-oriented approach. One is flexibility and the other is the need for action. The anticipation of a result releases a lot of potential energy which tends to make the journey quite enjoyable/ exciting??? Thus, when you begin to focus on results, your life will change because you become more productive faster and with less effort.
Business meetings are another area where participants can get bogged down in process. How many meetings have you attended where you have been left confused and wondering, “What was the point of the exercise?” A good meeting is one where the participants agree and commit to produce an outcome that is specifically measurable and sustainable. Everyone should know the result they are aiming for and each person should know their task and the time frame they have been given to complete it. If there is no confusion about what has to be done there will be less stress and more will be done in a given time. If everyone knows and carries out their task with the end result in mind, they are valuable to themselves and they are giving value to the business.