In an increasingly competitive and turbulent world, the need for an individual to keep pace with workplace demands and changes is critical.

Adapting and coping with change is no longer a competitive advantage; it has become a basic requirement.

There is a significant difference between being effective and being efficient at work. Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right thing.

Many people are efficient, but effective employees are harder to find.

How then do you progress from being efficient to being effective at work?

How can you thrive in the globalised world and be future-ready?

There are three key areas you can work on:

1. Be aware of your strengths

Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton said in their seminal book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, that society often places too much emphasis on finding fault.

Buckingham and Clifton’s thesis is that we need to discover our strengths and find ways of identifying and using them if we are to live effective and fulfilling lives.

Enhancing strengths, rather than rectifying weaknesses, is the springboard to achieving effectiveness.

What is a strength?

A strength is defined as consistent, near-perfect performance in an activity.

Examples of strengths include the ability to make quick but good decisions, being patient, being meticulous and being analytical.

Strengths differ from talent in that strengths can be nurtured, whereas talent is a natural aptitude.

How then do you identify your strengths?

People with whom you come into close or frequent contact can reveal your strengths — your boss, your spouse, your partner or your children can give you feedback on what you are good at.

Once you have identified your strengths, you should harness and maximise these at the workplace. You will feel more effective.

2.  Be a lifelong learner

Being a lifelong learner is not about acquiring degrees, diplomas and other impressive-sounding academic credentials.

It is about becoming the person you were meant to be. It is about developing your thinking and strengthening your most prized asset — your mind.

In a knowledge economy, new information and insights are the currency that drives creativity and innovation. Lifelong learning is the smartest investment one can bestow on one’s self.

What is lifelong learning?

There are two fundamental ways of learning:

* learning from books, and

* learning from people smarter than us.

Reading is fast becoming an endangered activity. People claim they do not have the time to read, yet they spend hours watching movies or surfing the Internet.

Studies have shown that the wealthiest households had one common denominator — a collection of books, more often than not, in the form of a small library.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body, as the saying goes, and it certainly brings with it a host of benefits, not least being structured thinking, focus and acquisition of knowledge.

How do we learn from people smarter than us? By learning from our peers, friends and by attending training and developmental courses. 

3. Be health-savvy and exercise

Most heart attacks occur on a Monday, according to research. Why is this so?

Is it because people have barely recovered from the previous week’s stress as they face the upcoming week’s demands?

If you work in a state of anxiety, you can never be effective or develop the clarity of thinking that is required for effectiveness at work.

However, there is an antidote — aerobic exercise, to be precise.

Yet many people believe they can get by without getting their heart muscles pumping at least three times a week, 30 to 45 minutes each time.

Adopting a regular exercise routine brings with it critical benefits that contribute to effectiveness at work.

Your pulse rate drops, which means you become calmer, your well-being improves (the chemical serotonin makes you feel good), and your ability to handle adversity improves tremendously — one of the hallmarks of a truly effective person.

So there you have it — the three key areas to ensure your effectiveness at work. Invest your time on them and you will be well on your way to achieving your goal.