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As a leader, your employee’s performance is directly tied to your capabilities. Improving your performance at work supports your employees in getting better at their job and improves your business’ productivity.
However, it isn’t always that straightforward. When you’re a manager, between emails, employees, and senior leaders, there are often many distractions to your day. These interruptions can not only divert you from your workflow but may ultimately hinder your work performance.
Ready to take your work performance to the next level?
Read on to learn how to balance maintaining your workflow and being available to those who need you. This article discusses the top 3 ways to improve work performance and 11 other ways to develop workplace skill sets.
What Is Work Performance?
Work performance is defined as how well employees execute their expected work-related duties. This might include tangible elements of the role—such as how well they hit company targets—or intangible elements such as communication skills or relationships with teammates.
Top 3 Ways to Improve Work Performance
Multitasking at work is very common, and many consider multitasking to be a sign of a productive employee. However, a Stanford study stated that multitasking made employees less productive and more distractible, with the Journal of Experimental Psychology saying that multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40%.
Monotasking is the practice of focusing on one task at a time. When monotasking, you dedicate yourself to that task and minimize interruptions until the task is complete to boost productivity and improve work performance.
- Break large tasks down into smaller, measurable steps. Complete these tasks across shorter bursts of time to improve your productivity.
- Allow sufficient time in your workday to complete the tasks that build up to larger overall tasks. Completing tasks in their entirety will help you feel motivated throughout the day and improve work performance.
Improving your work performance takes focus. To improve your focus, you should minimize distractions in your workday so you can focus on tasks that will enhance work performance. Distractions might include group chat notifications, emails, or phone calls irrelevant to your current task.
- Mute or delete irrelevant group chats. Try to limit your use of group chats while you are focusing. However, if you need group chats for work you can use Connecteam’s prioritization feature to favorite important chats. This supports you in prioritizing your workload effectively.
- Turn off your smartphone. If this is too challenging or you need your smartphone for work, you could place it in ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode so only urgent queries come through.
- Work in a quiet place, or consider using headphones to play lyric-free music like classical or jazz. According to Forbes, complex music provides just the right level of background distraction to boost productivity.
No one person can be an expert in all fields. Trying to complete every task yourself will reduce your productivity and increase workplace stress. If you have a team around you, you must delegate tasks to them effectively to boost productivity. Doing this will help you improve work performance and free up your time to do things that add value to your role and department.
- Write down all the tasks you need to complete today. Rate the tasks on a scale of 1 to 5—with 1 being simple and 5 being deeply complex. Delegate anything below 2 that isn’t sensitive to your colleagues.
- Ask for regular updates from your team on the progress of their tasks. This will help you in the time management of projects and gives them the space to ask for help.
Other Ways to Improve Work Performance
Set SMART goals
Setting SMART goals can help you understand exactly what needs to be done and help you improve work performance. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and, time frame.
What do you specifically want to achieve? For example, stating that you want a raise is not specific. However, saying you want a raise from $55k per year to $60k per year is specific.
How will you measure this goal? For example, you cannot measure becoming more confident. However, you can measure an increase in sales due to being more confident.
Is the goal achievable from the point you are at now? For example, you won’t be able to jump from $100 in sales to $10,000 in sales in one month. However, an achievable goal could be to jump from $100 to $500 in one month.
Is the goal realistic?
Set a specific time frame for the goal. For example, stating that you want a promotion within a year is not a set time frame. However, wishing to receive a promotion by June 2023 is a specified time frame.
- Break projects up into smaller SMART goals to help you understand how to complete the tasks.
- Create a table with five columns and four rows—as below—to help you separate each element of your SMART goals. Doing this will give you a visual aid in achieving your goals.
- You should not overwhelm yourself with SMART goals. Otherwise, it may impact your productivity. Typically, three or four goals for a task are optimal.
Complete the most important tasks first
Your energy and concentration power dwindles as the workday progresses. Completing your priority tasks at the beginning of the day will help you dedicate the best of yourself to your most important tasks and improve work performance by increasing the quality of your work.
- Create a list of your most important tasks ahead of time—e.g. the day before. Rate your tasks from 1 to 5—with 5 being the most urgent. Complete any tasks rated a 5 first, then 4, then 3, and so on.
Find a good organizational system
Finding a good organizational system is key to improving work performance. It’s important to find a system that works for you—you may need to try a few options before you find the right solution. Some benefit from a planner, while others prefer to use their built-in email calendar or a simple to-do list.
A good organizational system will help you keep track of the tasks you need to complete today. They can also be beneficial for staying on top of what is happening during the week, as well as helping you track your long-term goals.
- Once you have found an effective organizational system, take time out of your day to keep on top of it. It is recommended that you use 15-20 minutes at the end of your work day to organize your tasks for the following day.
- Try different organizational systems from time to time. While your current system may work well for you, you may find a system that further increases your productivity.
Take regular breaks
While improving work performance and increasing productivity is important, if you do not take regular breaks, you may increase your stress levels and burn out.
Looking after yourself is integral to being a successful employee and can help you be more productive throughout the day. You should take between 10 and 15 minutes for these small breaks. However, even taking a few moments to adjust your mindset can be beneficial; These short breaks, called microbreaks, can help break up the day and improve your concentration.
- If you feel like you cannot focus or are getting stressed, try going on a 10-15 minute walk—if appropriate. A change of scenery often helps you refocus your mind.
- Take a few minutes to make a cup of tea or coffee as a reward after completing a task.
- Take short microbreaks throughout the day. Several mindfulness practices are available on YouTube, which last a few minutes and can help you remain present throughout the day.
Ask for constructive feedback
If you are unsure about your performance at work or how you are progressing, a good first step is to ask your manager for constructive feedback. They will be able to give you an idea of how you are performing—including what you’re doing well and what areas require improvement.
- Don’t be afraid of constructive feedback—it’s a good thing! Knowing how you perform will help you understand how to improve and will help you feel good about your current performance.
Avoid office gossip
Office gossip is not only counterproductive and distracting, but if you are in a position of power—i.e., a manager—it may be illegal for you to engage.
As a manager, you have certain responsibilities and a level of authority your team members do not have. Gossiping about others below you may be considered workplace bullying, which could even lead to you being caught up in a tribunal claim. It is best not to engage in idle chat and drama.
- If you are accidentally caught up in office gossip, take a short break to make a cup of coffee or stretch your legs to separate yourself from the conversation.
- Put your headphones in and listen to calming classical or jazz music to distract yourself from the conversation.
Set aside learning time
The most productive employees set time aside each day to prioritize their continued professional development. Setting time aside in your week to focus on learning and keeping up to date with changes in your industry is important.
- Spend this time watching videos, reading books, or looking up case studies related to your industry. You can also listen to podcasts or spend time with a mentor to help elevate you from your peers.
Rethink ineffective working styles
You may have a routine at your current workplace that enables you to work effectively. However, this way of working may not be the most efficient. Occasionally you should sit back and consider what working styles help you be productive, and which ones hinder your workday.
- Be mindful of what actions do not contribute to a productive workday. It may be checking your emails consistently throughout the day or answering every instant message request as soon as it is received. Try only answering messages at set times—for example, at 10 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm—to improve work performance.
As a manager, improving your work performance will improve the overall effectiveness of your team members and your department. There are many elements to improving your performance at work, including self-care, increasing productivity, and effective prioritization of tasks.
Ultimately, improving work performance will take time and focus. However, by following our tips, setting measurable goals, and focusing on your own development, you can improve your performance at work and keep growing as an employee.
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