10 Essential Tips for Improving Performance at Work

Productivity tips to improve work performance

The effective accomplishment of professional objectives requires continuous commitment, determination, and enthusiasm to overcome challenges. 

As an employee you need a sustainable personal performance improvement plan to accomplish your work performance goals, approach each task effectively, and nail your annual performance review.

In this article you learn tips to improve work performance, complete tasks more efficiently, and excel at your essential tasks.

Table of Contents



1. Adapt to Your Organization’s Culture

Culture is the backbone of success for many organizations. A Harvard Business Review Study highlights that business leaders of fortune 500 companies discussed the term culture 27 times in a meeting of 90 minutes.

That’s not to say that you need to be personally invested in every aspect of the organization—a healthy work-life balance is essential, after all.

That said, there is little doubt that without a clear alignment between your interests and your company’s culture you will struggle with developing relationships and you may have to overcome resistance that would not otherwise be present.

As an individual employee you may not be able to dictate the workplace culture as a whole, however the way that you present yourself at work and the skills you contribute will influence it.

How to Adapt to an Organization’s Culture:

  • Observe Policies & Norms: Understand what is expected of you and how the other employees follow the company’s norms and principles
  • Mentorship: Form relationships with more experienced employees; they can help guide you to understanding aspects of the culture that may not be as overt
  • Ensure Flexibility: Prepare yourself to work in diversified and new environments
  • Keep an Open Mind: Be open to the perspectives and experiences of others
  • Participate in Decision-Making Process: Active involvement in organizational decisions help to highlight your willingness to learn, grow and become efficient at work

2. Find a Correlation Between Personal and Professional Objectives

Woman deep in thought while viewing laptop

While a strong work ethic will help you through a task in the short term, to stay motivated in the long term you need to find fulfillment in your professional life. A correlation between your personal and professional objectives will improve job performance, ensure you lose focus less often, and make professional development far more fulfilling.

For example, a 2020 study conducted by CareerAddict.com states that over 82% of the surveyed employees will likely quit their jobs because of a lack of career progression. 

As an employee you may have personal benchmarks related to developing a skill set that makes you a viable candidate for professional projects that warrant a greater salary, more responsibilities, and a unique task pool. 

With that connection between personal and professional goals in mind you will be more motivated to stay focused on achievable goals that will take you a step further towards achieving them. 

3. Work Smarter, Not Harder on Important Tasks

young employee in a business suit working on a laptop

Time is a non-renewable resource, making it one of the most valuable assets you have when you approach a task. Without a clear structure you may inadvertently waste time on one task while you lose track of more urgent tasks. 

Poor prioritization is the bane of optimal productivity. Not having a clear priority status makes it difficult to delegate tasks effectively and structure a viable to do list. 

To improve work performance it’s essential that you understand how to use the valuable time you have during work hours effectively. Being able to avoid idle chat, develop strong time management skills, and optimize your work process will ensure that you are focused on tasks that matter.

Here are some ways you can work more efficiently:

  • Stop Multitasking: Human beings simply aren’t built to multitask effectively. Context switching between multiple tasks can cost as much as 40% of your productivity according to research from the American Psychology Association. Instead, structure your day so that you can focus intently on one task at a time.
  • Take a Short Break: Staying focused on important tasks takes a lot of cognitive effort. While a break may feel counterintuitive, short frequent breaks are essential for maintaining energy levels throughout the day.
  • Manage Interruptions: While you may not be able to avoid distractions entirely, if you want to stay focused on a difficult task you need to identify your most common distractions and do all you can to avoid them. If a chatty coworker is your achilles heel, consider communicating effectively to set clear boundaries.
  • Prioritize Important Tasks: Use a framework such as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to decide which tasks belong on your to do list and which ones can be delegated or outright removed.
  • Batch Similar Tasks: As mentioned, task switching is a major productivity drain. When you batch tasks you can boost productivity by keeping your mind set on a limited process, allowing you to enter a “flow state” more easily.

4. Practice Inclusive Leadership

Man giving a presentation

When considering how to improve your work performance it’s important to consider what looks like a great job in the context of your job role. If you are a team leader what you need to do to successfully meet your goals will be different than that of an employee without such responsibilities.

If you are in a leadership role it’s critical that you learn how to communicate effectively, provide your team with the tools they need to successfully complete their task, and guide them by setting milestones.

The adoption of inclusive leadership is a practical approach to involving everyone in decision-making. Inclusion can help develop a pool of innovative individuals with creative ideas. 

A Harvard Business Review study shows that teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they have high work performance.

Inclusive leadership provides all the necessary ingredients to become a leader who respects everyone, promotes fair dealing, and nurtures a culture of empowerment and growth.

A Deloitte report suggests valuable six traits of an inclusive leader:

  • Courage: Speak up and challenge the status quo
  • Cognizance of bias: Focuses on self-regulation to ensure fair play
  • Curiosity: Ability to have an open mindset and a tolerance for ambiguity
  • Cultural Intelligent: Remains confident and effective in cross-cultural interactions
  • Collaborative: Empower individuals and leverage the thinking of diversified groups

5. Use Professional Networking to Improve Work Performance

man and woman in business attire shaking hands

A LinkedIn survey notes that 70% of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a connection. Professional networking helps identify career development opportunities, develop business connections and gain knowledge.  

Networking is not just important for the job market; it contributes to improving work performance. Networking with internal and external professionals provides valuable relationships and resources to help you improve your work performance.

Tips for Networking:

  • Attend in-house meetings and seminars
  • Develop strong working relationships with key influencers in all departments
  • Use social media to interact and help team members in the time of need
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest industry news and trends

6.  Delegate Effectively to Your Team Members

A group of employees reviewing reports

Delegating is a vital strategy for managers. A Gallup survey justifies this fact by identifying that companies with high delegator talent successfully generate 33% more revenue.

A few tips for delegating effectively:

  • Pick Tasks to Delegate: Determine what tasks are suitable for delegation; at the same time don’t solely delegate boring tasks like data entry, be willing to give up a few things that will provide value to the employee.
  • Select the Rising Star: Provide growth opportunities for new individuals with suitable work performance, a desire to learn, and a relevant skill set
  • Trust Their Process: Allow employees to select the best course of action for their working style and skills; provide guidance without being overbearing
  • Train, Train and Train: Mentoring, counseling and coaching during the delegation process help ensure optimal work performance
  • Measure Results:  Provide clear metrics for success so that both you and the employee know what is expected of them
  • Valuable Feedback: Give feedback on the completed delegated tasks; present constructive feedback for improving work performance and give ample praise for their efforts in the previous task

Related Article: How to Assess the Productivity of Employees That Work From Home

7. Map Your Journey

Organizations use employee journey mapping to track job performance and satisfaction over the course of an employee’s time at the company. On a personal level you can map your own journey to understand how your work performance has evolved over time.

  • Did you improve your work performance?
  • DId you develop effective communication and project management skills?
  • Do you set milestones on a weekly basis?
  • Did you learn new tools and skills to improve work performance?
  • Did you fall victim to any performance traps? Has your problem solving skills developed to help you tackle your tasks more effectively?
  • What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most and the least?
  • What can you do in the future to improve work performance in other ways? 

Regular reflection of your goals, interests, and shortcomings is essential if you want to improve work performance.

8. Use Personal Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs)

Man writing in notebook

While Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) can be intimidating when provided by someone else, proactively developing your own personal PIP is a great tool for reflecting on your goals and prioritizing tasks that improve work performance.

How to Establish a Personal PIP:

  1. Identify your current performance issues
  2. Analyze opportunities for performance improvement
  3. Establish personal performance improvement objectives
  4. Identify the skills you have and what ones you need to develop
  5. Examine the training options available; a relevant article, courses, etc
  6. Gather resources such as mentorship and further training opportunities
  7. Schedule meetings with individuals that can help connect you to needed resources
  8. Continually monitor your progress and identify ways to improve performance

Reflecting on your own strengths and weaknesses and using your project management abilities to improve your personal performance is an excellent way to show initiative and a desire to improve.

9. Be Willing to Resist the Status Quo

group of employees listening to a speaker

A mindset of continuous evolution is the backbone of improving task performance. Unfortunately many companies are so resistant to change that they may collectively stick with a less-optimal process simply because they’ve always done things that way.

While you’ll not always be able to switch tasks processes as they are, it’s important to be willing to challenge current practices, offer better alternatives, and be willing to maintain the energy levels needed to enact change.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to revolutionize their processes overnight. McKinsey’s research suggests that leaders in the post-pandemic era have embraced technology and data, reinvented processes and adopted new collaboration tools.

8 Techniques for Introducing Change

  • Observe Work Environment: Understand the existing work procedures, analyze the future initiatives and identify opportunities for improving performance
  • Conduct Research: Identify new industry trends, get ideas from your network, and validate your assumptions
  • Contact Employees/Managers: Discuss with internal stakeholders how they feel about the organization’s current processes
  • Pitch Suggestions: Discuss your own suggestions to improve at work and discuss them with your teammates
  • Gather Feedback: Encourage colleagues to present honest feedback on your ideas
  • Get Buy-In From Influencers: Get buy-in from someone with authority and respect in the organization. They will have a greater influence to help you propose initiatives.
  • Have a Solution Prepared: Criticism for the sake of criticism is not a valuable contribution When identifying pain points ensure you have a reasonable suggestion for how you would approach things differently.

10. Digital Leadership: Going Beyond Project Management Tools

“Compared to developing companies, [digitally] superior companies are on average 165 percent more likely to achieve business objectives, increase revenue, save costs and see return on investments.”

Workplace 2025: The Post-Digital Frontier (Randstad)

In the era of data analytics, digital leadership plays an essential role in improving performance at work.

A Randstad survey suggested these required traits of a digital leader:

  • 76% of survey respondents value the ability to keep people connected and engaged
  • 76% value the commitment to drive a culture of innovation
  • 75% value digital-savviness in using digital tools to drive business success

Lack of knowledge about digital resources increases your dependence on traditional approaches, which limits your opportunity to grow.

Digital resources like HR analytics reports are a valuable tool to improve work performance. Yet, Gartner’s research suggests that only 21% of HR leaders think that their organizations effectively use talent data to inform business decisions.

The data provided in these tools are valuable for identifying employee performance gaps. These tools provide workforce activity data in easily readable visuals and graphs, making task allocation and workplace analysis easier than ever before.

While standard project management tools are an excellent way to track day-to-day tasks, they seldom provide insights into the greater picture.

Understanding how to use employee data to inform management processes will provide you with a meaningful advantage when guiding your team.

Learn More: The Benefits of Monitoring Employees (Video)


FREE TRIAL: BrowseReporter Employee Monitoring Software

“The employees find the reports to be an extremely helpful self-analysis tool, and use the reports to analyze and reconfigure priorities!”

Ready to get started with employee monitoring? Reach out to the CurrentWare team for a demo of BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s employee and computer monitoring software.

BONUS: How to Keep Employees Productive While Working From Home

Are you a manager looking to keep your employees productive when they work from home? Managing a remote workforce comes with unique challenges. In this video CurrentWare’s managing director Neel Lukka shares his top tips for managing the productivity of employees that work from home.

Related Article: Work From Home Productivity Tips for Managers

Conclusion

To truly improve performance at work you need to do more than clear a cluttered desk or take less phone calls. You need to have a genuine drive for self improvement, the ability to critically self-reflect, the ability to prioritize each task effectively, and a clear connection between your personal and professional goals to keep you motivated.

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.
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