In the midst of organizational goal-setting and making personal resolutions for the coming year, it is important for both employers and employees to focus on improving performance and productivity. We hear these words so often in the work world that it is easy to overlook their importance. As work duties drudge on, increase and change, it can become difficult to really focus on performance, but with a little bit of determination and by following a few simple guidelines, you can make improving performance a part of your daily routine.
Performance and productivity are vital both for employees and employers. As the job market tightens with the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, highly productive employees will be even more vital for the success of companies, making performance a key component of being hired into and promoted within a great job. It also means that companies that encourage and foster productivity in their existing workforce can start early in combating recruiting and retention issues, as well as create a workplace culture that will attract top employees.
Depending upon the organization, performance and productivity may have various meanings. A manufacturing company may measure performance and productivity by quotas, while a service-based company may measure it by sales. Other organizations may measure success by meeting goals, while still others define it through the quality of work completed. However performance and productivity are defined, it is important for employees and their employers to have a clear understanding of what’s expected so that they can tailor their actions toward meeting expectations.
You can start the New Year off right, whether you are an employee seeking to improve your personal performance or an employer seeking to encourage performance in the workplace, by keeping a few important concepts in mind. Three important areas employees should focus on are goals, strengths and time.
· Goals. Understanding and working toward your goals is the first step to improving productivity. Goals directly impact the amount and quality of work you can accomplish. Remember that it’s easier and quicker to get to your destination if you have a map to guide you. Your goals are your map to increased productivity and performance, so keep them top of mind. If your organization or department sets new goals each year, make sure you start the year off right by finding out how your work role fits into these goals. If your workplace doesn’t help you establish goals for yourself, set personal goals and give yourself deadlines to ensure you can achieve them. This will show your employer that you have an understanding of how you fit into the big picture and that you are a team-player, both of which are great attributes of a top-performer.
· Strengths. The next way to help increase productivity is to focus on your strengths. Although many people believe they should improve in the areas of their weaknesses, the reality is that you have the best chance for attaining success by using your strengths. Whatever the task at hand, learn to approach it using your strengths so that you will save yourself time and frustration of trying to re-learn how to consider each task. Utilizing your strengths will make your work stand out and boost your personal performance as you transform your work habits into a well-oiled machine. A strengths-based approach in any job helps your employer recognize the growth you have achieved and potential that you have, making you a prime candidate for rewards and promotions.
· Time. Managing your time well will ensure that your plans and strengths are best used and that your intentions are backed up with action. No one likes realizing that they had good intentions, but lacked the execution, especially when it means being overlooked for a raise or having a bad performance review. Without the ability to accomplish the necessary tasks, it is almost impossible to go above and beyond. And most employers won’t take “I planned to get to that sometime” as an excuse for a job poorly done. Pay careful attention to your work habits, and take into account how you think about time. Learning how to harness time into something that works for you rather than against you will help your productivity levels shoot through the roof. This will make room in your schedule for new and increased responsibility, which will make your stand out to your employer.
What each employee does to improve his or her own performance is obviously crucial to seeing increased productivity levels. However, what employers do to emphasize it is just as important, because the reality is, not all employees will take the initiative to improve their performance on their own. Employers who want to encourage great performance and increased productivity across the board should focus on goals, rewards and leadership.
· Goals. Just like employees, employers should focus first on goals. Creating good goals is vital for success to be reached. The elements of great goals are that they are clear, reachable, strategic, measurable and time-framed. But simply creating great goals isn’t enough, they must be effectively communicated as well to get employees on board and excited about what the year holds. Encourage employee participation and feedback in the goal-setting process, and make sure that each department or group in your workforce has goals that are tied to the organization’s goals, so that employees know that their work is directly related to the organization’s success. Having solid goals will ensure that the relationship between your expectations and each employee’s work is strong and guided toward increased performance.
· Rewards. Although it may seem basic, rewarding top performance is one of the key components to ensuring your workers are performing at their best. People are motivated by rewards and recognition, so don’t shy away from using them. From gifts to bonuses to paid time off, the sky is the limit as to what you can do to reward employees. And, experts say even small rewards can make a big impact. It’s always a great idea to ask employees what sort of rewards they would appreciate, because it shows their interests are taken into account. Many experts say that tying rewards to specific goals is a great way to improve productivity. Also, rewards are often most effective when they are given from teams or managers, so keep in mind establishing a rewards system that takes this into account. No matter what approach you choose to take concerning rewards, utilizing the power of rewards will give each employee something tangible to put their efforts towards, helping them realize that exceptional performance will be recognized with more than just their regular paycheck.
· Leadership. It’s a well-known fact that employees work best in an environment that has great leadership. Leaders do exactly what it sounds like – they lead. And if they are ineffective or focused in the wrong direction, they won’t take their employees in the direction of performance and success. In fact, the top reason employees cite for leaving a company is poor management. That’s why it’s vital to focus on having great leaders in your workforce. Think about the kinds of leaders your organization will need within the next five years, and start training employees for these skills now. Find out where the leadership gaps are and fill them before people with the needed skills become even more difficult to find. Especially taking into account the impending worker-shortages, it is vital to develop great leaders now, so that they can create great teams and help retain your top performers.
Starting today to implement these tips can help organizations and workers reach new levels of success. As the labor pool continues to tighten, the benefits of increased performance are increasingly apparent. Organizations with great ways of improving performance will set themselves out as the best place to work, and workers will grow their careers by establishing themselves as the best person for their ideal job.