Career Development

14 Strategies To Improve Employee Performance

March 31, 2021

The ability of an organization to achieve their goals depends largely on employee performance—employees who are fulfilled and productive can be instrumental assets in steering an organization toward success. Despite this, though, many managers find it challenging to motivate employees and improve their performance. As a manager, it's vital that you purposefully design workplace structures and supports that can help lead your team to prosper. In this article, we discuss why it's important to improve employee performance and outline 14 different strategies for maximizing employee satisfaction and productivity.

Related: How to Improve Employee Productivity

Why is it important to improve employee performance?

Maximizing your team's performance for efficiency can help your organization accomplish its goals in a timely and cost-effective manner. The success of any organization relies heavily upon its employees' performance—when employees are productive, engaged and motivated, they can more easily meet the targets you set for them as a manager. Not only can improving employee performance help your organization achieve its vision, but it can improve employee satisfaction and reduce staff turnover over time.

While the talent, experience and skills employees bring to a role are important, their prowess isn't always enough to help them produce high-quality work—rather, how your employees perform depends on a variety of factors. Often, when employees struggle with their performance, there are other external factors driving such challenges that managers can tangibly address, such as:

  • Lack of resources or support
  • Misunderstanding of organizational vision
  • Absence of measurable performance goals
  • Inadequate job or skills training
  • Insufficient opportunities for development
  • Few opportunities to collaborate across teams
  • Conflict among team members

Since these factors often reside outside of an employee's control, it's up to managers to confront such challenges by making changes to workplace culture and systems. While this type of transformation of your organization can be a complex undertaking, it can be incredibly worthwhile and help lead your organization to success. By restructuring your organization's culture to include support mechanisms, feedback opportunities, professional development and more, you can help employees engage with their work and reach the goals you set for them.

14 ways to improve employee performance

As an organizational leader, you can implement different strategies that may help your team feel more supported and inspired to perform highly in their roles on a day-to-day basis. While the specifics of each strategy may depend on the type of industry you work in and your employees' individual needs, there are a few foundational approaches you can take to boost productivity and morale. Here are 14 ways you can improve employee performance as a manager:

Analyze performance metrics

It can be challenging to address inadequate performance without first recognizing where gaps exist in your organizational workflow. To help you understand how your employees are performing, it's a good idea to analyze performance metrics on a regular basis. Completing analysis tasks regularly can help you get a better grasp on why your employees aren't achieving goals or performing to their potential. You can hold performance appraisals that may lead you to identify the root causes behind performance metrics. After identifying such causes, you can build systems with the expressed goal of providing better support for your employees to succeed.

Related: What Is the Difference Between Performance Appraisal and Performance Management?

Be purposeful when you communicate

Managers who communicate ineffectively can lead employees to experience heightened confusion and disengagement from their roles. Therefore, to avoid such challenges, you'll want to make it your duty to communicate efficiently, regardless of what you're communicating.

When employees understand their jobs, duties and purpose, they're more likely to reach the goals you set for them. With this, you'll want to be purposeful when you communicate such information—starting employees out with a clear and actionable description of their responsibilities can help you unmistakeably establish relevant performance benchmarks.

Stay goal-oriented

If employees have clear expectations set out for them, they can more easily meet or exceed those expectations. Because of this, you'll want to establish explicit goals that help your employees better understand their roles and how their responsibilities fit into the mission of your organization.

It can even be beneficial to create workflow maps for your teams with visuals that help employees picture how tasks are connected, where collaboration may be helpful and what the end goal of a particular project is. Further, by maintaining a goal-oriented mindset on your team, you can better measure your employees' ability to reach objectives, which can help you provide real-time support and intervention whenever necessary.

Manage your expectations

When setting goals for your team, you need to manage your expectations and maintain a realistic perspective. Even if you are clear with your directions, provide specific objectives and design benchmarks you will use to measure your team's success, but you're not thinking practically, it's likely that your team won't improve their performance. Therefore, remember not to place too much pressure on your team—be generous and allow them enough time to meet deadlines while producing high-quality work. This can help team members stay engaged in working together toward a common goal.

Make accountability a priority

Keeping your team accountable for meeting specific standards is an important part of improving employee performance. When your employees perform highly, you can enforce positive accountability and offer increased responsibility or constructive feedback. If your employees aren't meeting your expectations, you need to communicate this by keeping them accountable for their performance and offer supports that might encourage their increased focus and engagement. It's important to remember that you need to balance accountability measures with authority—in most situations, you'll want to avoid doling out negative consequences and instead find methods for helping your employees succeed.

Encourage feedback

Building feedback opportunities into your employees' workflow can help them understand how their performance is stacking up to your expectations. These feedback opportunities should occur on regular intervals and be reciprocal—you should encourage your employees to offer you feedback of how you might better support or lead them. Comparatively, when giving feedback, tell employees about areas they're excelling in and where they may need some improvement. Implementing such a system can help both you and your employees receive clear, obtainable guidance on how you can work together to achieve goals.

Related: Employee Performance Evaluation: Definition, Benefits and How To Prepare

Offer incentives

One of the best methods for improving employee performance is through encouraging them to be more efficient by offering rewards and other benefits. You can consider offering special incentives to recognize when your employees' perform highly and produce excellent work. From organization-wide praise to actual monetary bonuses, you can instill different incentive programs that may inspire employees to take more initiative in their roles. Consider offering additional paid time off, gift cards, bonuses, late passes, meals, wellness programs or professional development opportunities to show your employees that you're invested in motivating their success.

Train and develop your team

When employees receive the requisite training for them to understand their roles and foster their skills, it's more likely that they'll perform their jobs with precision. Therefore, you should try to implement robust training programs when employees transition into their roles that will prepare them to succeed. From here, you can also encourage continued employee development through supplemental training programs, professional retreats, conferences, workshops and coaching systems.

These tactics can help your employees expand and strengthen their skill sets, which in turn, can help them improve their performance. In addition, investing in an employee's development can help foster a culture of loyalty and respect that may reduce turnover and increase engagement.

Related: Guide To Employee Training and Development: How To Do It Effectively

Promote internally

It is a common mistake for managers and organizational leaders to seek external candidates over highly qualified internal candidates when a position opens up. The prospect of promotion can be an incredibly effective incentive for employees to improve their performance and maximize their efficiency to reach organizational goals.

Therefore, don't overlook your current staff when searching for a candidate to fill a senior role—not only do your organization's already-trained employees understand your mission, values and objectives, but awarding them with a promotion can serve as the ultimate reward for excellent performance. With the potential for career advancement at stake, your employees may take action and improve their work.

Embrace flexibility

Employees often highly value flexibility in their roles. Offering flexible work schedules and telecommuting options to your employees can help them be more productive overall and foster a sense of trust among your staff. While many managers believe employees are less productive when they work unmonitored from home, this is a common misconception.

When employees don't have to waste time commuting or skip work for illness or midday appointments, they can maintain their energy levels, engagement and productivity in a way that may otherwise not be possible. Therefore, try to embrace flexibility with your employees to enable them in maximizing their time—it could lead to higher performance levels overall.

Build a culture of wellbeing and support

It's important to recognize that employees often perform better when they feel valued and satisfied with their roles. Consequently, carefully crafting a strong culture that demonstrates your respect for your employees is a key part of being a successful organizational leader.

You can build a culture of wellbeing and support for your employees by offering competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits packages, workplace perks, professional development opportunities and a healthy environment to work in. Taking care of these factors—those that help employees feel appreciated and easily find support in their lives—can promote overall wellness in your staff and positively impact your employees' stress levels and ability to engage.

Create opportunities for collaboration

When employees often work independently or in isolating environments, it can lead to decreased productivity and creativity. Because of this, you'll want to purposefully create opportunities for your team members to collaborate on projects and tasks. Collaboration can lead to major benefits in individual employee performance and build trust among team members that can lead to better results in the long run.

You can do this by assigning pairs to tackle projects, designating connected sets of tasks or setting up full-team collaboration sessions. While collaboration isn't always a natural instinct for all employees, fostering a work environment where teamwork is the norm can help develop such skills. This can help your team become more efficient, come up with innovative solutions and improve overall team morale.

Celebrate wins

Managers often forget to take the time to celebrate employees who achieve significant results and work to advance their organization's mission. Make sure you focus on the wins your team achieves through their work. Taking the time to congratulate your team members on their high-quality work will help them feel valued and can encourage them to remain consistent and perform highly in their future endeavors.

You can celebrate wins by praising your team in a company-wide meeting, taking your team out to dinner, holding a happy hour or simply crafting a thoughtful, hand-written note—regardless of what you do, it's likely that your employees will appreciate it. When you positively reinforce an employee's fantastic performance, they're more likely to continue on the same path.

Related: 8 Examples of Positive Feedback to Boost Employee Performance

Find technology solutions

Part of improving employee performance is empowering them to do their jobs efficiently. If employees have the right tools at their disposal to succeed, they often take the initiative to do so. Therefore, you should actively seek technology solutions that can help your employees do their jobs faster, easier and better.

Depending on the software or hardware your team currently has access to, changing up the technology you use in your organization's processes can lead to an overhaul in performance. In addition, since new technologies are always being developed, you should stay up to date on the different mechanisms available in your industry that can improve your employees' day-to-day performance.

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