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10 Effective Ways to Improve Employee Performance

Improving employee performance is every manager's top priority. Here are 10 tried and tested ways to increase performance.

Engaged employees are at the core of high-performing companies. As a manager, you know that in order to find organizational success, employees on your team need to perform well. It might sound easy: Hire and retain high-performing employees and success will follow. But the truth is, it’s not simple and many companies struggle to improve employee performance. 

For that reason, the Fellow team has outlined what employee performance means, how you can measure employee performance, as well as 10 comprehensive techniques to improve performance in your team. 

Employees perform only as well as they are managed, so it is important that you brush off your knowledge so that you can continue encouraging employees and providing them with appropriate work environments that will allow them to flourish professionally. 

What does employee performance mean?

Employee performance is the way in which, and the degree to which employees fulfill their job responsibilities and complete expected tasks in the workplace or online. 

Employee performance has several components including the quality, efficiency and overall effectiveness of the employee’s work.

Some factors that can affect employee performance include:

  • Work environment
  • Team workflows and processes
  • Clarity on goals
  • Wellness and mental health

How can you measure employee performance? 

1) Measure efficiency: This is related to employee productivity and the speed at which an employee is able to accomplish tasks in a day, week, month, quarter, or year. This also considers the tools and resources available that enable higher productivity. Some ways to measure efficiency include keeping track of how long it is taking for your employees to complete certain tasks, or asking them to document it in a time tracking sheet that you can refer back to and analyze together in the future. 

2) Measure quality: This is related to attention to detail and how satisfied you are with the output of work from your employees. Quality means that the employees’ work is adding value to your team and overarching goals, so ensure that their work is providing a clear added value to the group as a whole. One way to maintain and increase quality of work amongst your team is to provide ongoing feedback about your employees’ work.

3) Measure consistency: This is related to how often the efficiency and quality of work remains the same, or similar. You can examine if you are noticing improvements in your employees’ work or if it seems like perhaps they have hit a “plateau”. You want to see the potential to grow in your team members and know that you can depend on them to deliver exactly what you need.

10 Effective techniques to improve employee performance

As a manager, it is your responsibility to coach your team to success, by asking questions to understand why they might not be performing. Here are ten simple but effective ideas to help you improve employee performance: 

1 Communicate clear goals and expectations

Goals and expectations need to be communicated extremely clearly. When hiring, a well-written job description and onboarding checklist is extremely important to clarify the duties of a role and will help set a clear understanding of responsibilities from the get go. 

A great way to gain your employees’ understanding is to have them reiterate their understanding of the goals or expectations in their own words. If they’re able to do so in their own words, they have understood what is required of them. 

Finally, regular interaction is imperative for you to manage expectations with your team so be sure to engage in ongoing, frequent communications. If frequent discussions between you and your employees are lacking, it is much more likely that individuals will be confused, bored or even a little bitter because they don’t know what is expected of them and how to be successful in their position. 

2Don’t wait for performance reviews to give feedback

Why wait for a formal performance review to give feedback? As we suggest ongoing communications with your team members, we also suggest informal, ongoing feedback. 

By making these conversations about feedback more informal, your employees are going to feel less pressure and more at ease. Both positive and constructive feedback are going to improve employees’ performance by helping them understand where they stand at the time of each feedback conversation. 

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Positive feedback is going to further motivate your employees to continue performing well and constructive feedback will give them an area to focus on, specifically. 

Giving and receiving feedback often is going to highlight the importance of goals and make sure that goals are a main focus while your team members tend to their every day responsibilities. 

3 Use tools to boost productivity

In this age of technology, there are so many different tools and resources that you can use to boost productivity in the workplace and online. To boost your productivity in communications specifically, consider using something such as Slack to replace email and have everything in one place. On the other hand, consider using an app like Fellow for more productive meetings, managing work relationships and keeping track of tasks. 

Consolidating tools and resources that you are using into one or two interfaces is going to enhance yours and your employees’ performances by keeping you more organized, saving you time and keeping you focused. 

4 Keep deadlines realistic

Managers know that things are constantly changing at work. This is also applicable to deadlines. As projects evolve, it is highly likely that some deadlines may need re-working. While you are going to do everything in your power to complete these milestones by their according dates, simply be open to the possibility that the dates may need to shift. 

Start by making it very clear which milestones are essential to the success of the project and estimate when these milestones need to be completed so that other puzzle pieces can then be placed. If you aren’t firm on these timelines, it is unlikely that they’ll be taken seriously! It will waste time and cause frustration among your employees. 

It is important to find a balance between placing a sense of urgency on deadlines and also allowing adequate time for individuals to complete them. That’s why being in constant communication with your team members is important to see where they’re at with their deadline dates. 

5 Understand why an employee might be underperforming 

Just because you have an employee that is underperforming, it doesn’t mean that it’s fair that you make assumptions as to why. Rather than assuming, check-in with any employee who is underperforming and be gentle in your approach. 

Often, we are completely unaware when somebody is going through a difficult time and this underperformance could certainly be due to personal reasons. Identify if this individual is underperforming because of personal reasons, inadequate capabilities or unclear goals and accountabilities. Once you have identified the source of the issue, you can create a plan to tackle it, together. 

Make sure that you empower your employees with your support, tools or resources as they approach new challenges to confront. 

6 Create employee development plans

It’s super important that you create employee development plans so that you can lay out how each member of your team will acquire skills that are needed for their jobs. These skills can be acquired through several different means, such as through formal or on-the-job training, coaching or mentoring. After this training, coaching or mentoring has been provided, make sure that you are providing your employees with opportunities to use the new skills and competencies they have acquired. 

Employee development plans serve as a great source of documented goals that can later be assessed and re-evaluated in the future to see if development goals have been met. It’s also a great way to see which skills your employees can continue to build even further. 

7 Reward employees based on your company values 

It’s no secret that employees both want and deserve recognition when a job is well done. That’s why it’s really important that you identify some ways to celebrate individual and organizational successes or milestones. Making time to show that you appreciate their hard work is going to encourage employee engagement and improve employee productivity. 

It is essential for employees to feel as if they are a valued member of a team and that they are making a meaningful impact towards collective success, all while meeting (or even exceeding) goals and expectations. Successful companies base their employee rewards and recognition programs around their company core values, making them more personal and meaningful. 

8 Reward improvement 

You can reward improvement in many different ways, depending on your relationship with your employees as well as their personalities and learning styles. Verbal praise, bonuses, or even the promise of career advancement are some of the most effective means to motivate your employees. 

Recognizing your employees’ improvements demonstrates that you are paying attention to their efforts and that you genuinely appreciate the hard work that has been put in to improve performance. 

9 Delegate tasks with trust

Delegating tasks can be difficult for someone to do if they do not trust their team to do a job well done. However, giving more responsibilities to qualified employees will help the individual to gain skills and feel a sense of accomplishment when completing new tasks. Remember that they were hired for a reason, so offer them a chance to prove to you that they can handle the task at hand!

10 Incentivize your team

Recognizing your team for a job well done will make them feel appreciated and motivate them to continue doing their best work. Deciding how to reward your team can be based on the individuals. For example, one person may just want public recognition whereas someone else may be motivated by a private thank you. Other forms of incentive can include lunch on you, a gift card to their favourite coffee shop, or even an afternoon off!

How to improve employee performance and productivity

Employees perform best when they have managers that are aware of the efficiency, quality and consistency of their work. So many different factors contribute to the ways in which employees perform. We need to consider that even different work environments enable individuals to see an increased performance, where other environments are not so well suited. 

Regardless of the reason why you might have seen a dip in performance, it is important to empower employees and continue encouraging employees to do better. Refer back to this guide on different ways to improve employee performance when you’re looking for ways to improve employee performance – especially the next time you have a performance review coming up! 

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Kate Dagher

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