How to improve work performance is understandably a prominent thought in every project manager’s mind on a nearly-constant basis. Work performance will ultimately determine if a project gets completed successfully, on time and within budget. Poor performance can happen for any one of a million reasons but getting great work performance from your team is another challenge altogether.
Here are some basic strategies to look at for how to improve work performance:
- Keep focused and minimize distractions
- Create goals that can be achieved
- Have clear plans
- Give quality feedback
- Ensure everyone takes a break
- Encourage staff to confront their fears
- Recognize and reward hard work
- Keeping focused
It might seem like the most obvious advice, but why do so few people follow it? They might only seem like micro-breaks from work but every time you hear your phone ping, or you glance at your emails, your mind loses its train of thought, which can take up to eight minutes to get back. You team will work best when they can fully focus on one task, so discuss strategies with them, such as designated email checking times or “quiet periods”.
- Achievable goals
While many organizations like to push the boundaries with OKRs and distorted reality fields, it’s also necessary for your team to have some “wins”. This means creating a balance whereby you have objectives you want to reach which are made up of graded goals that can actually be achieved. Just like how in many video games you can complete an objective with a gold, silver or bronze star, your team shouldn’t become demotivated or disheartened about their performance if they don’t manage to absolutely ace everything 100% of the time.
- Having clear plans
Indecision can create a huge abyss into which a lot of time and potential hard work can fall. Taking the time to prioritize and plan your team’s work schedule means that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing at all times. Without this, team members’ energies can get stuck between two equally important tasks, without ever moving forward.
- Giving quality feedback
While one would assume that work performance will (hopefully) improve with experience, it’s not the only way that someone can get better. Your experience as a project manager can be vital in putting team members onto the right path. Learn how to make your feedback constructive and take the time to work through a development plan with each member of the team. The benefits to their work performance can be huge.
- Encouraging staff to take a break
Tracking individual work performance is relatively easy for anybody to do. A basic way is by breaking your day into half-hour slots and ranking them out of 10. If you do this you might notice something, that working non-stop is not a good way to maintain high work performance. Make sure you and your team take reasonable breaks, even just a 5-minute walk around the office. The human brain is a powerful computer, but it also needs to cool down from time to time.
- Confronting work fears
One great way to improve work performance is to overcome the work fears that hold people back. You mightn’t even notice them unless you’re paying attention, but everybody has areas of knowledge, maybe at the edge of their field, which they purposefully take a long route to avoid or just straight up won’t work with. This can greatly harm your team’s potential work productivity, such as by not using the best process or software technology available. Work with your team to help them recognize their individual work “fears” and assist them in overcoming them, through training or research.
- Recognizing and rewarding hard work
Beyond the basic joy of getting our agreed upon salary for the work we do, most people also enjoy their efforts being recognized by superiors. If an individual or the whole team have been showing improved work performance, take the time to recognize their efforts, at the very least through an e-mail. If your project budget allows it, look into an appropriate bonus scheme to monetarily reward high performance, though there are plenty of alternatives if not, such as office pizza on a specific day or giving time off.