How to Improve Work Performance

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Jeni_Odley
edited August 2023 in Business

Every company has a vision or goal, which should be communicated to employees through meetings and internal communication. Employees are required to work towards clear common goals for the good of the company and complete tasks with the company vision in mind. Work performance is measured in different ways, including how well employees meet company expectations. Moreover, companies may measure employees’ work performance by assessing task requirements and results. 

Work performance is often confused with productivity, and while the two are related, they are not interchangeable. Productivity describes the amount of work employees complete daily, regardless of quality. Employee productivity is usually measured by how efficiently tasks are completed.

How can you improve your performance at work?

Job cuts in quarter one of 2023 alone have jumped by 396% from the same period of 2022. With global mass layoffs and advancing technology looming, employees must find ways to enhance their work performance to remain relevant and avoid being replaced. Furthermore, the surge in people working from home makes it more difficult for bosses to witness work performance, leaving them to base judgment on tangible results. Employees should consider ways to improve work performance for their professional development and career growth.

1. Set manageable goals — and achieve them

While this may not sound like groundbreaking advice, potential goal-achievers should consider their overall objective and small milestones before taking action. Breaking the end goal into smaller chunks helps to maintain perspective and boost motivation as each one is met. Moreover, contemplating possible challenges or setbacks and implementing contingency plans to overcome them reduces the risk of becoming demotivated along the way. Setting realistic, manageable goals is paramount, as expecting too much too soon is a sure-set way to failure.

If in doubt, remember that there is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.

2. Prioritize tasks

We live in a world where everything seems important. Bosses want projects set today completed yesterday, which can create a sense of urgency and overwhelm. Workers must use their best judgment and implement outstanding time management and task prioritization. Luckily, there are many tools available to achieve this.

Using a digital calendar on a smartphone or computer allows workers to schedule tasks more efficiently and avoid double-booking. Deadlines are clearly displayed to enable long-term planning of tasks and milestones, which can help employees meet project goals. Finally, calendars help workers look back on previous data to plan future project timelines.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a seemingly never-ending to-do list? The Eisenhower Matrix helps to prioritize tasks by dividing them into four sections:

  • Important and urgent: These high-priority tasks require immediate attention. They are urgent because they are often time-sensitive and have a tight deadline, and important because they contribute to a long-term goal. 
  • Important but not urgent: Although important, these non-urgent tasks can be completed at a later date. These tasks impact productivity but have no fixed deadline, such as following up with clients or colleagues or sending an important email. However, beware not to put these tasks off too long, or they may creep into the first section above.
  • Urgent but not important: These non-important tasks must be completed urgently. However, workers can delegate them to someone else as they do not enhance productivity. This could include responding to customer emails or feedback. Although the emails require an urgent response to avoid keeping customers waiting, sending them does not enhance productivity. Therefore, it is more productive to delegate these tasks elsewhere. 
  • Not important and not urgent: Rather than being delegated, tasks in this category are usually unnecessarily time-consuming and can be eliminated. It may seem counterproductive to list these tasks in the first place, after all, if they are neither important nor urgent, why waste time thinking about them? Part of the Eisenhower Matrix’s magic is to encourage reflection about where workers waste time, thus boosting overall productivity.  

3. Take regular breaks

Taking enough breaks does not just improve productivity — it helps our overall well-being, too. Taking a short walk or stretching during the day can boost workplace productivity. However, being fully immersed in a task means we often neglect taking breaks, with 62% of Americans even opting to eat lunch at their work desks.

The Pomodoro Technique encourages workers to incorporate regular breaks into their working day by splitting time into focused 25-minute work sessions. After each session, workers should take a five-minute break before setting their timer for another 25 minutes. After four sessions — or pomodoros — a 15-30 minute break is encouraged. This technique is perfect for employees that forget to take breaks or are easily distracted, helping them to overcome procrastination. 

4. Effective teamwork

Workplaces are traditionally hierarchical organizations. Nowadays, company owners understand the impact effective teamwork has on productivity. More and more teammates are sharing ideas instead of seeing each other as competitors, helping them work towards common workplace goals. Effective teamwork is crucial to a productive workforce as it puts the company’s aims first while helping teams complete tasks more efficiently. Moreover, it helps keep the team motivated and shares the burden of tight deadlines. Here are some tools and software designed to help teamwork run smoothly.

Collaboration tools 

For teamwork to be truly effective, companies should include user-friendly collaboration tools. This allows employees to communicate and work together from anywhere in the world, streamlining tasks and boosting workplace productivity. With collaboration tools, workers can share important files and work on documents together within the office or when working from home. 

Video conferencing software 

The number of daily Microsoft Teams users increased from 145 million in 2021 to 270 million in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Video conferencing software lets employees talk to each other or customers at the click of a button, which was perfect during lockdowns. Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has officially ended, people have grown used to working from home and using integrated video conferencing software. 

Document management systems (DMS)

Document management dictates how employees create, review, publish, and save files. Companies should have systems that specify which document templates should be used, how a document should be stored or discarded, and how users can protect sensitive information. Efficient document management brings cost-saving benefits for companies, and does not require physical storage space like paper documents. Microsoft OneDrive serves as a DMS as it provides functionality to store, share, and manage documents. It allows for real-time collaboration, version control, and integrates well with other Microsoft Office applications.

5. Seek feedback or mentorship

Actively seeking feedback makes workers stand out. Moreover, it encourages open communication and creates a stable working environment. Instead of worrying about job performance, workers that feel confident approaching bosses for feedback will know how to improve. But employees should be prepared to take the good with the bad and avoid becoming defensive or offended if bosses offer constructive criticism. Feedback helps us improve, and it should be welcomed, not feared.

Workplace mentorship initiatives are valuable assets to companies and workers. Mentors are seasoned professionals that offer skill development advice and support to less experienced workers. There are many types of mentoring available, such as one-to-one or group programs, with one common goal: to pass job-specific wisdom to the younger generation. Moreover, good mentors also offer honest feedback and hold mentees accountable for their actions.

In the fast-paced world of tech, specialist tech mentoring provides relevant guidance to mentees, helping them to navigate the ever-changing and increasingly complex industry. Tech is a multifaceted field and finding expert guidance is challenging. Cybersecurity specialists, programmers, and future tech executives have different needs that expert tech mentors can fulfill. Such schemes allow mentors to give back to the tech industry and guide tech specialists of the future.

To ensure effective feedback or mentorships, companies should offer convenient communication platforms for both parties to share ideas and offer advice. 

6. Have a healthy work-life balance

With the prevalence of smartphones and emails, we are expected to respond around the clock. A positive work-life balance makes employees feel happier and more productive. In fact, studies show that 80% of workers with a good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who do not. Employees should be allowed time to do things they love, such as spending time with friends and family. They should not be punished for switching their phones off at weekends or ignoring messages in the evenings. 

Conclusion

Company bosses are constantly looking for new ways to boost work performance. Introducing mentorship initiatives and encouraging open communication among teams can enhance motivation and help employees improve. Educating employees on time management and productivity skills, such as the Eisenhower Matrix, equips them with the tools required to be more productive in the workplace. Moreover, companies should ensure that workers have up-to-date computers and collaboration software to streamline communication and encourage teamwork. Well-looked-after employees are more likely to consider company goals and work more efficiently.

Jeni is a translator and writer based in Taiwan. She is passionate about business development and loves helping companies enter international markets. She is fluent in English, German, and Mandarin Chinese, and combines these with her industry experience to provide practical market entry solutions.

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