High-performing, motivated, satisfied employees are an important factor in your business’s success – whatever your sector or industry. Nonetheless, it’s not always that easy getting the most out of your workforce. And when you don’t, you run the risk of missing targets or deadlines, or making customers disgruntled with poor service or low-quality products.
In this article, we’ll be sharing ten tips to help you improve your employee performance.
But how come employees don’t always perform at the top of their game?
Your employees form an integral part of your company’s production processes and add great value to your organization and its products or services. How well they perform is therefore critical to your overall success. If you’re inclined to look at this in terms of your bottom line, then you’ll want to see some form of return on investment.
There are several reasons why employees don’t always perform at the top of their game:
1. Lack of clearly defined job descriptions
Without proper job descriptions, employees don’t have a solid enough foundation to carry out their work effectively and efficiently. This is a common problem – someone starts a new job and doesn’t have a clear picture of what’s expected of them. Often, the job description they receive is vague or incomplete.
2. Uncertainty about the purpose of their work
Employees generally perform better when they’re focused on results that contribute towards achieving clear objectives, rather than merely keeping busy. A clear job description alone isn’t enough. The ‘why’ behind what they’re doing is just as important. This is why employees need to know why the tasks they’re performing and how they perform them contribute towards the bigger picture. When setting goals, it’s important to clearly define an end result.
3. Little or no feedback
A lack of good feedback is a critical factor in poor employee performance. Everybody needs good feedback and instruction. Only then do we know whether we’re on the right path in terms of approach and performance. You can give good, constructive feedback informally at any given moment, but also more formally as part of a performance review.
4. Lack of appreciation
People who feel appreciated are generally more motivated and perform better. And don’t forget, even your best employees need a pat on the back every so often.
5. Lack of skills and knowledge
Employee underperformance can sometimes be attributed to a mismatch. For example, the requirements for a given task don’t match the employee’s skillset or knowledge level. If this is the case, it’s worth taking a closer look at your competency map and recruitment & selection policies.
6. Unrealistic expectations
Some managers have unrealistic expectations of their staff and co-workers. When this is the case, staff have to work too hard, which leads to a drop in productivity and an increased likelihood of burnout and errors. What’s more, staff lose motivation if they have to struggle to achieve targets that in practice are impossible or near-impossible.
7. Poor staff-management relations
Motivation and performance levels take a nosedive if relations between staff and management are strained or there’s a lack of trust between the two.
8. No room for professional development or creativity
Employees underperform and become demotivated if they don’t get the opportunity to use their potential or creativity to the full or to work on their professional development.
9. Personal problems
Sometimes, employees experience personal problems that have a negative effect on their work performance, for example relationship problems, illness, or the loss of a loved one.
Tips for improving performance
Now we know the main causes underlying these problems, how do you prevent them and improve employee performance?
1. Identify the problem
It’s important not to judge an employee too quickly if they’re performing below par. Seldom do they do this on purpose. Always start by identifying the cause of the performance problem. As we’ve seen, there are many different possibilities.
2. Set clear expectations
What results, targets, and deadlines are expected of your staff? And how do these contribute towards your organization’s objectives? Good communication is the key to managing expectations.
3. Invest in training and professional development
When investing in training and professional development, it’s important to realize that this is an ongoing process. Many companies pay special attention to training when onboarding new employees, but make the mistake of thinking this is a one-off event. On the contrary, it’s vital employees hone their skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis, especially in our modern-day digital age.
4. Improve onboarding
Onboarding new employees properly is often a factor that’s grossly underestimated. Effective onboarding ensures that staff become productive and adapt to their new work surroundings more quickly.
5. Improve corporate culture
Scientific studies have shown that happy employees perform better. A healthy, pleasant workplace where people are actively involved in the decision-making process and aren’t intimidated by their superiors helps boost productivity and creativity.
6. Use the right tools
Using the right collaboration and communication tools also helps boost employee performance, for example Microsoft 365, any one of numerous Google web applications, or planning tools such as Asana and Monday. So, why not create a well-defined digital work environment with clear policies and guidelines relating to the use of these tools?
7. Stop micromanaging
Good managers act as coaches. Ultimately, they make the decisions, but they do so in close consultation with their staff. Good managers also know how to delegate while remaining accessible for advice, questions, and guidance.
Unfortunately, many managers have a tendency to micromanage. Often, they’re control freaks who place unrealistic demands on their staff. Their control issues smother employee creativity and pro-activity – two characteristics that contribute significantly towards higher productivity and performance.
8. Improve teamwork
It seems obvious, but in practice it’s not always that easy to get a team working together. Often, culture, hierarchy, or leadership style gets in the way.
There are several ways to improve team cooperation:
- setting clear, shared goals
- choosing the right team leader
- assigning tasks and roles properly
- celebrating successes collectively
- giving each other feedback
- addressing each other about results
Read our article, 9 tips for successful team cooperation.
9. Improve interdepartmental communication
Over time, departments tend to become isolated islands within the larger organization. This gets in the way of interdepartmental cooperation and hampers individual employee performance. When departments know what other departments are doing and align their operations accordingly, individual employee performance can improve significantly. Open communication between departments is an important step in the right direction.
10. Celebrate successes
Create opportunities for your staff to celebrate their achievements and milestones. Of course, a bonus is a welcome sign of appreciation, but a heartfelt thank you, a token gift, or after-work drinks often work just as well. They help boost motivation levels, which in turn encourage staff to work harder on their performance levels.
Make it visual!
Skills matrices are a great tool for helping you keep track of employee performance and monitor progress. They provide a clear picture of your employees’ skills and knowledge levels. By keeping these matrices up to date, you can also track their professional development.
Spreadsheets are a good way to start exploring skills matrices. But chances are that after a while you’ll want to take your skills management system to the next level. When this time comes, AG5’s software is the perfect solution.