techniques that enhance employee performance
Employee Development
Communication
Company Culture
September 26, 2022

5 techniques to use to enhance employee performance

Bill Gates famously asked, “What would Microsoft be worth if it was sold without its collaborators?” His answer: one dollar. 

Without great employees, companies aren’t worth all that much at all. But are great employees found… or made?

Almost any employee can become great. They simply need to be given the right conditions to perform to the best of their ability. Improving employee performance should be a key aim of all managers, but it’s not always clear how. 

In this article, we’re going to explain key techniques to improve employee performance and create a culture of communication, collaboration, and trust.

Contents

  • Why do employees underperform?

    • Uncertainty

    • Lack of motivation

    • Inappropriate expectations

  • What is employee performance evaluation?

  • The importance of employee performance evaluation

  • How to improve employee performance 

    • Ensure consistent performance appraisals

    • Make employee development a priority

    • Take steps towards improving morale

    • Communicate clear expectations

    • Utilise the right technology

Why do employees underperform?

Before we look at ways to improve work performance, it’s helpful to understand what’s going wrong. Let’s look at the main causes of underperformance at work.

Uncertainty

It’s difficult for staff to work efficiently and effectively if they’re not confident in what they are expected to do. Poor communication of objectives, a lack of training, or an inconsistent leadership style can all get in the way of business efficiency.

Motivation

Poor communication and leadership can also result in low motivation for staff. Similarly, if work is mundane or unpleasant, or if there is little prospect for development, team members can quickly become demotivated.

Inappropriate expectations

Expectations are the Goldilocks of management. We need to get them just right. Expectations that are too low give employees no reason to strive for increased productivity. Impossible deadlines and towering workloads achieve the same outcome through stress and despondency.

It’s worth remembering that workers may not even be aware that they are underperforming. That’s why regular, clear, constructive communication is so important. 

That’s where employee performance evaluations come in.

What is employee performance evaluation?

An employee performance evaluation, also known as an appraisal, is a (relatively) formal process designed to check in with employees on a regular basis to talk about their work performance.

These evaluations are typically annual, and will usually include an evaluation of the individual’s performance over the year and set objectives for the period before the next evaluation.

The importance of employee performance evaluation 

Employee performance evaluations are key to identifying and resolving issues that are preventing your staff from achieving their full potential.

How does it work? A great employee performance evaluation achieves the following goals:

  • It helps employees to gain an accurate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This improved self-awareness allows staff to fix many performance issues themselves.

  • It sets clear, achievable objectives that are agreed upon between the employee and management. This allows staff to feel empowered and take ownership of their progress.

  • It creates a regular space for feedback and can encourage staff and managers to seek out further feedback opportunities.

  • It allows team members to raise any obstacles that are preventing them from achieving better performance.

  • It provides an opportunity for managers to encourage outstanding performance and express their appreciation.

Unfortunately, not all managers see things this way. In fact, only 8% of companies think that their employee performance evaluations are important drivers of business success. Often, this is simply due to a poor evaluation process.

Here are the steps we should all be taking to improve our employee performance evaluation processes.

How to improve employee performance 

1. Consistent performance appraisals

If employee appraisals are going to achieve the objective of improving performance, they need to be fair and bias-free. Provide clear, unambiguous prompts. For example, don’t ask managers about “professionalism”. Ask about time-keeping, interactions with customers, and relationships with colleagues instead. 

Creating an appraisal system that is specific enough to reduce bias whilst also being flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of skills and abilities isn’t always easy. Putting in the effort to get this right allows our staff to feel confident in the process, which is key to building trust.

2. Make employee development a priority

Speaking of building trust, it’s essential that managers pay more than just lip service to employee development. 

When leaders ask for ideas of skills to improve at work, staff feel part of a trusted team. This highlights that staff and managers are working together to fulfil business objectives. It also shows commitment to your team members. 

3. Take steps toward improving morale

Showing that we take employee development seriously isn’t the only step towards improving morale we should be taking. Whether your level of teamwork is closer to Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, there’s always room for improvement.

Employees come to their performance evaluations with expectations based on the culture they see around them day-to-day. Creating an atmosphere of trust, where they can share their thoughts and ideas allows them to approach their appraisals confidently. 

4. Communicate clear expectations

We’ve already noted that uncertainty is the enemy of productivity. An employee constantly worrying about their performance isn’t going to have great time efficiency, for example.

Communicating clear, measurable expectations helps staff to relax and achieve their best. Try providing examples of improving work performance and agreeing on targets that show efficient and effective work.

5. Utilise the right technologies

Technology should empower your teams, not stand in their way. Making sure that you’re using the right technology, and in the right way, allows your staff to thrive.

This might mean offering training and development opportunities online — intuitive learning management platforms such as My Learning Hub can help keep good staff engaged as you help them become great.

Making the most of your most valuable asset allows your business to thrive, but it can feel like an uphill battle. If you’d like some support along the way, contact My Learning Hub today. We’re experts at helping to train and develop your teams, effortlessly.

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