Do the Ends Always Trump the Means?

Morgan McKinley March 20, 2014 2 mins read

The workplace is like a warzone: lose focus for a second and you risk touching your boss’s nerve or making an unforgivable mistake, leading to serious career consequences. The workplace axiom “Begin with the end” is driven into the minds of millions of new workers each year.

Is the idea that results are more important than the process actually true?

It’s not wrong that companies pay employees for the value they create, which is measured using results. Many new workers have had the unfortunate experience of working hard for weeks or months only to hear their boss say “What’s this?!”  No matter what, your effort will be wasted if you don’t get the desired results and the boss isn’t satisfied. “Even if you don’t get results, you’ve still spent the effort—even if you don’t get credit for it.” This idea isn’t applicable in the workplace.

Can we just forget about process, then?

No! In the workplace, although ends are crucial, most important are the means.

When somebody enters a company or chooses a career, they do it for their own personal growth. A sense of belonging at a company, after all, is different from actually owning a part of it. Working at a company isn’t just to help the firm earn profits, more important is the employee’s own personal growth and learning, profit and development.

Many people place results above everything. To develop their career, they resort to any means necessary, throwing everything else to the wind, including friends and family. This may lead to promotions and higher wages, but in exchange you lose what’s most important: your true self and your future.

To everyone at the workplace, process is extremely important. When dealing with a task or a piece of work, it’s crucial to dissect and analyse why a particular means is being employed, and whether or not there is area for improvement within the process. In this way, you can not only avoid making similar mistakes in the future, but also enjoy significant improvements.

The process of work is the process of growth. You can place importance on the ends, but don’t overlook the means!

Morgan McKinley's picture