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Difference between Performance and Efficiency

Posted on November 3, 2022 by Sara Kremsar
4383 | 3 Nov 2022
Difference between Performance and Efficiency

Today's organizations face enormous challenges in evaluating their effectiveness and performance. Businesses are placing great emphasis on social responsibility, innovative technologies, and new ways of thinking strategically. Driving overall organizational performance and efficiency has always been a priority, as achieving business performance and efficiency is directly linked to creating business value.

Organizations constantly strive for better results, more significant impact, and greater competitive advantage. When it comes to productivity, many people and organizations strive for greater efficiency. Efficiency can be good, but it can also distract from the organization's real goals. Effective implementation of tasks, activities and processes does not yet represent organizational success, as efficiency and effectiveness are not the same concepts. Therefore, their understanding and differentiation are necessary.


Organizational assessment is a common practice in high-performance organizations. These organizations must constantly strive for better results and growth, which can be achieved through constant comparison and self-evaluation. The terms "performance" and "effectiveness" are often used interchangeably, but there is a clear difference between the two. While performance refers to organizations that do the right things the way they should, effectiveness is about doing the right things in the best way.

Successful organizations are not always efficient, and efficient organizations are not always successful. To achieve maximum efficiency, organizations tend to do as much as possible with as little consumption of resources (time, money, and other resources). However, efficiency is often achieved at the expense of performance, and being efficient should not be the company's primary goal. Instead, companies must first identify their goals and what they want to achieve and then find the most efficient way to achieve those goals.

Performance is more important than efficiency in the long run because it makes sense to do the right things less efficiently (successfully but ineffectively) than to do the wrong things effectively (unsuccessfully but efficiently). Effective performance of activities that should not be performed at all leads to negative consequences, as people waste time doing the wrong things, leaving less time to do the right things. In order to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment, organizations must spend all their time and energy doing the right things in the right way. This means aligning their activities with the company's goals and doing those activities as efficiently as possible.

In the context of strategic management, "organizational performance" is often expressed in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. However, these concepts are more complex than they may appear at first glance. For example, in many production-driven companies that produce or manufacture tangible goods, a measure of efficiency can be a direct, almost mathematical relationship between inputs and outputs and can therefore be easily measured. In many service industries, this relationship is not so clearly defined. As a result, accurately measuring "performance" in terms of a simple ratio between inputs and outputs can be difficult or even meaningless. Therefore, caution should be used when using the terms "performance" and "effectiveness."

Organizations must find the right balance between performance and effectiveness, and they must first understand the difference between the two. The difference between performance and efficiency can be briefly summarized as follows: Being successful means doing the right things, while being effective means doing those things right.

Effectiveness / Performance

Success is the achievement of set goals, which depends on the goals themselves and who sets them. Organizations must have set accurate and realistic goals within the competence of those who manage and dispose of the given resources in the organization. Performance-driven companies deal with production, sales, quality, innovation, cost reduction, and creating added value. When we talk about performance, we measure the degree to which a company achieves its goals or how the effects affect the economic and social environment. Typically, performance defines the organization's policy goals or the degree to which it achieves its own goals. Performance refers to the extent to which something was done to achieve the intended result. It means the degree of closeness of an accomplished objective with a predetermined objective to examine the strength of the entire entity. Performance is seen externally and reveals the attitude of the business organizations in a macro business environment. It focuses on achieving a competitive position in the market. Organizational performance helps evaluate progress in completing tasks and achieving goals. To improve organizational performance, organizations must strive towards better communication, interaction, leadership, direction, adaptability and a positive environment. Effectiveness represents the level of results achieved. It usually refers to how useful something is and how much we can attribute to its contribution. It is not a temporal, procedural or effort-oriented measurement of input data. Organizations can be said to be successful if the company's goal is achieved.


Efficiency consists of two segments: efficiency itself or the contribution of the individual and the organization of the system or people in the entire system. An important factor in efficiency is the individual and how much each individual can contribute to efficiency. The organization of the system is also important so that the individual can work efficiently. The level of efficiency depends on the organization's system. It means the ratio between the input and the output. We measure the efficiency level with the help of benchmarking methods, and the degree refers to the result itself. How efficient a company is can be characterized by how well it is organized in using its own resources. Efficiency involves more effort in achieving a goal. It is more about a time and process-driven strategy that focuses on how organizations can achieve results with minimal input. It's about figuring out how to increase performance while at the same time investing the least amount of effort and money. Efficiency refers to the ability to produce the most value without wasting time, effort, money, energy and raw materials. Quantitatively, effectiveness can be measured by planning and achieving relationships between the inputs and outputs of the company's resources, such as assets, energy, material, labor, etc. Efficiency is also considered a parameter for calculating "Performance" and productivity by comparing planned production and actual results achieved with a fixed number of inputs. Efficiency is an essential element for exploiting resources, as they are very scarce and have alternative uses, so they must be exploited in the best possible way.

Performance and efficiency are exclusive "Organizational Performance" measures, but at the same time, they influence each other. Possible scenarios for organizations while intertwining efficiency and effectiveness are:

  • An efficient yet successful organization achieves success with minimal cost, and the company is experiencing rapid growth.
  • Inefficient but successful companies thrive; they can survive in the market but at a high cost. 
  • Efficient but unsuccessful companies have their costs under control but will slowly fail. 
  • The last possibility is that companies are inefficient and also unsuccessful. This scenario is the worst for organizations, as high-cost businesses are quick to collapse.


Performance and efficiency are crucial concepts in business and organizational management. Performance refers to achieving goals, while efficiency is about using resources effectively. Organizations must understand the difference between the two and strive for excellence in both to achieve sustainable growth and success. A clear understanding of performance and efficiency can help organizations manage their operations effectively and stay competitive in a fast-paced business environment.


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