How To Improve Your Performance at Work in 13 Steps

Updated March 20, 2023

Throughout your career, you typically need to show employers your commitment to the organization where you work as you reach your professional goals. Improving your performance at work is an effective strategy for workplace success. By learning about the steps for performance improvement, you can continue in your role and position yourself for more job opportunities, such as promotions and raises. In this article, we explain how to improve your performance at work and discuss why it's important.

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How to improve your performance at work

Follow these steps to improve your work performance:

1. Perform a self-assessment

Conducting a self-assessment helps you determine what aspects you need to improve. A self-assessment, or a self-evaluation, involves reflecting on your career progress, skill development, and achievements. To conduct one, examine your strengths and weaknesses. Then evaluate your core values and goals. For example, your work ethic may be your strength, and you may want to become a better team player. Write out insights you identify through your self-assessment to use as a reference.

Read more: How To Perform a Self-Assessment

2. Focus on a task at a time

Managing one task at a time helps you give it your full attention. If you stay focused on one assignment, you also tend to complete it quicker and more efficiently than multitasking. For example, if you focus on responding to a customer that calls for information instead of sending an email between call breaks, you typically provide better assistance to the customer. Stay focused on one task by eliminating distractions and prioritizing your assignments.

3. Become more organized

Being organized means having the energy and time to handle every aspect of a task or project accurately. It also involves managing your workspace to help you complete tasks successfully. Becoming more organized can help you stay productive. For example, you can arrange your workstation, file storage, or computer system in a way that is most productive for you. That way, you can find any information you need quickly. Similarly, you can stay organized by creating guidelines for what emails to keep, cleaning your workspace, and developing a work routine.

Read more: Developing Proficient Organizational Skills

4. Use a planner

While a to-do list can help you stay organized, consider using an hourly planner if you have several tasks to complete. You can schedule a time to complete each activity and work toward concluding assignments in advance. Using a planner can help you work efficiently and limit delays. With one, you can give your supervisor or clients a more accurate timeframe for completing assignments.

5. Set SMART goals

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Be clear about what you want to achieve. For example, you may want to improve your interaction with users on social media.

  • Measurable: Understand what evidence would indicate success. For example, you may track user engagement on social media platforms.

  • Achievable: Ensure you can accomplish your goal within the timeframe you set. For example, while you may not receive 100% user engagement within two days, you can work toward reaching 90% user engagement.

  • Relevant: Make sure all goals align with your core values and long-term career plans. For example, you may want to improve user engagement as an intern to show your employers that you can succeed as a social media manager.

  • Time-based: Be clear on the timeframe you want to achieve your goal. For example, you may have a goal to achieve 75% user engagement within a week or a month.

Related: How To Achieve Your Goals in 6 Steps (With Benefits)

6. Communicate effectively

Effective communication means exchanging information with others for them to understand your message. It helps to ensure clarity and can impact your work performance. For example, you can use effective communication to confirm details of a task. Similarly, communicating effectively can help you learn new ways of achieving better results. You can improve your ability to communicate effectively by practising with a friend or colleague and analyzing feedback from what you discuss. Taking communication courses online and attending workshops can also help you improve this skill.

7. Set productivity challenges

Personal productivity challenges can help you improve your performance and motivate you to exceed performance expectations. For example, suppose you create three graphic designs daily. You can try to create four or six in the same timeframe, while ensuring each design's quality. Your employers would typically notice the increase in productivity and may encourage you to maintain the productivity level.

8. Use productivity tools

Online productivity tools can help you track your assignments and performance progress. For example, you may use applications to take notes, get software programs to manage your documents, or use software applications that enable project collaboration, organization, and planning. You can also use software to plan your meetings or applications that categorize emails based on priority levels. Research productivity tools that can help improve your performance at work.

9. Develop professional relationships with your teammates

Building relationships with your teammates helps to foster a positive work culture and enhance your performance. For example, if you have a positive relationship with a colleague, they may help you gain insights into achieving better outcomes. Aim to make your professional relationships mutually beneficial by offering assistance, asking questions, and keeping to commitments you make with teammates.

Read more: Building Relationships: Benefits, Tips, and How-To Guide

10. Arrive at work early

In nearly every organization, there's a time employers expect you to arrive at work. You want to arrive early to prepare for your day or complete quick tasks. Arriving on time can also help you settle before your workday begins and work more intently. Aim to prepare for work in advance. For example, if you take the bus, you can confirm the time it'd be leaving. Similarly, you can check traffic and weather forecasts to make sure you arrive at work on or before time and prepare what to wear a day before work.

11. Schedule vacation days and time off

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is important for meeting and exceeding performance expectations. After reviewing the company's calendar and receiving permission from your supervisor, consider taking time off from work whenever required. Doing this can help you regain your focus and energy. You may also request time off from work to attend training programs that can help you become more valuable to the organization.

12. Use feedback

Depending on your employers, you may receive constructive criticism during performance reviews or annual meetings. Your employer may also provide a performance improvement plan, which is a document that outlines how you can perform better at work. Feedback on your performance can help you identify what you need to work on and confirm your employer's expectations. You want to implement the advice provided to improve your performance.

For example, suppose your employer details how you can reach your sales target for the quarter in a performance improvement plan. You can use this document to guide you over the next quarter. Similarly, your supervisor may provide constructive criticism on a sales report you created. You want to use this feedback when creating future reports.

Read more: What Is a Performance Improvement Plan? (With an Example)

13. Learn from top performers

Look for individuals who reach and exceed performance expectations regularly. For example, you may get a mentor at work. Then, try to observe their approach to work and see if you can apply any aspects to your role. For example, if your manager uses a time-management tool, you can consider it to enhance your work performance.

Learning from top performers also involves gaining insights into how they navigate workplace issues. For example, if working with certain medical patients is challenging, you may reach out to the nurse manager or a medical professional who thrives with such patients to learn their approach.

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Why is it important to improve your work performance?

Improving your performance helps an organization achieve its goals. It can also motivate your teammates to perform at higher performance levels, creating a more positive work environment. For example, suppose you find better way to train your team's recruits. This can encourage other supervisors to adopt a similar approach to training their team.

Enhancing your performance can qualify you for opportunities. For example, you may be a more competitive candidate for leadership positions. Depending on your agreement with your employers, you may also receive better employee benefits, such as unlimited vacation or paid time off. Becoming better at work can also help you keep your job. For example, employers typically want to keep the most productive employees if they have to make a lay-off or termination decision. Ensure you track your progress as you work toward contributing to an organization and succeeding in your role.

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