A strong workforce is key to any organization’s success, that’s why we have to identify performance improvement area of the workplace. It is composed of employees who are engaged in their work, happy with what they do, and feel they have a sense of purpose. As a result, engaged employees are more likely to be productive, happy, and committed to the organization which improves overall business results.
However, many organizations struggle with recruiting, retaining and motivating a healthy workforce. Findings from a recent Gallup study showed that only 32% of employees in the US are engaged at work. Luckily, there are plenty of performance improvement areas that you can invest in to boost your workforce.
In this article, we will cover some of the major benefits of prioritizing your workforce, as well as 7 improvement ideas for boosting your team’s performance.
Table of contents
- The importance of workforce for business performance
- 7 Performance improvement areas
- Better Work-Life Balance
- Conclusion about performance improvement areas
- FAQ: Performance Improvement Areas
The importance of workforce for business performance
A recent study from the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Working Knowledge project looked at how business performance is affected by the skills, experience and morale of the workforce.
The results showed that employee engagement contributed to a 25% improvement in sales performance and an 8% improvement in operating profit. The study also showed that a 10% increase in employee engagement was associated with a 15% reduction in turnover rates. These findings suggest that improving the performance of the workforce can improve business performance.
This is because skilled employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. They are also more likely to be motivated to seek out new opportunities and to take on new challenges.
This means better overall results - both in the individual and team level. It also means they are better equipped to solve problems when they arise.
Finally, skilled employees are more likely to be engaged in their work, which has a positive impact on business performance as they tend to be more productive and efficient. These findings suggest that improving the performance of the workforce can improve overall business performance.
7 Performance improvement areas
A rule of thumb is that if a business is not improving actively, it is on its way to a decline. Whether your company is just beginning to grow or has already reached a mature stage, you can pinpoint areas for improvement.
Let’s take a look at seven areas you can improve to get positive, tangible results.
When you have important business goals to achieve, you should focus on achieving them as a team. People in your team are important, and the way your teams work together towards the common goals of your business is the backbone of your success. Here are the main action points you can turn to improve teamwork in your organization:
Improve internal communication skills
One of the important indicators of your team's success is the quality of their communication. Sharing thoughts, ideas, and updates regarding their projects and tasks creates a sense of unity in your teams.
This is especially important for newbies to make them feel comfortable sharing their ideas and learning about the business faster.
Recognize the effort
Any good work done by any team member should be recognized and rewarded. The reward doesn't have to come in a material form. Simply noticing their efforts is sometimes enough. Lack of recognition is one of the main reasons people are quitting their jobs.
If you have people on your team that constantly deliver good results, reward them and make it known. Praise them both in one-on-one meetings as well as in front of the team or management.
Peer recognition is also important here since your people rely on the opinions of their colleagues. Being recognized will keep everyone in the team encouraged to contribute to their best abilities since they will feel worthy and appreciated.
Create team-building activities
Team building activities are a great way to improve cooperation through an informal setting. They provide space for every team member to share their experiences with others and connect on a more personal level. This increases their capability to solve real-life problems and complex tasks.
Nowadays, with an increase in remote work, workers tend to feel that work is invisible, organic collaboration is reduced and they cannot access their managers often enough.
Successful companies combat this with activities that are adjusted to reduce the isolation that can occur with remote work. Creating human-to-human connections between your remote team members increases team harmony and boosts productivity.
2. Customer service
Customer service plays an important role in keeping your customers. Research shows that 60% of customers leave a business after just one poor experience. What’s even worse - 67% of such churn can be prevented if a customer's issue is resolved during their first interaction. This leaves little room for mistakes and makes customer service one of the top areas to invest in.
The best option is to combine AI solutions and human agents. Chatbots and AI-powered voice assistants can provide you many benefits, such as:
- 24/7 support
- Multilingual support
- Reduced workload for agents
- Increased First call resolution (FCR)
- Reduced Average handling time (AHT)
- Advanced customer analytics
This leaves more time for agents to focus on complex inquiries and build relationships with your customers.
As prerequisites, a good customer service team should have:
- Knowledge. If your customers need support, they rely on the knowledge you can provide them. Your team should be prepared to answer your customers' most common questions. And they should know where to search for answers if they don't have one at hand.
- Good soft skills. Besides knowing things about your business, your customer support team should be able to convey the knowledge to the customers.
- Patience. There are many different types of customers out there. Some are too chatty, some have too many questions, and some are never satisfied. Knowing how to approach them all with the same standard of service and having the patience to do so is a special skill that your team should have.
In order to achieve these, you must invest in training programs. Statistics show that 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or improve old ones, yet 59% of them claim they don’t receive any training whatsoever. Leaving employees to deal with customers without working on their organizational skills can cause both employee and customer dissatisfaction.
3. Interpersonal skills
In the last 20 years, the time that managers spend working closely with other team members has increased by 50%. This only increased the importance of advanced interpersonal skills.
Organizations value interpersonal skills highly, and for a good reason - individual ability to work well in a group improves the business performance of the whole organization.
The first step is developing listening skills. Active listening means being attentive to a speaker, reflecting and responding to what they are saying, and memorizing what they said for future conversations. This makes people feel appreciated and willing to contribute.
Besides that, people in your organization should learn to keep an open mind and accept other person's point, whether they agree with it or not. Being attentive to the views of others encourages people in the team to speak up, and that's where you can get many great ideas for improving your business.
Managers play a significant role in developing the interpersonal skills of their employees by acting as a moderator. By helping settle disputes that arise between them, you improve the daily work of the whole team. Here, use your leadership skills to act as a neutral third party and help all sides see the facts from you.
Moderation is a great way to lead by example and demonstrate to your employees what courteous responders and active listeners should look like.
Did you know that 51% of companies with a strong coaching culture report higher revenue than their competitors? Moreover, 61% of clients report improving their business management skills thanks to coaching.
Nowadays, coaching is one of the most efficient ways of ensuring both customer and employee satisfaction. How is that?
Coaching allows you to work with people one on one and help them overcome challenges at work. The main benefit is that you can customize your approach based on the individual employee's needs. For instance, if a person struggles with time management, you can focus the entire coaching session to explore this issue and come up with actionable strategies for improvement.
Unfortunately, only 20% of employees are satisfied with the coaching they receive from their managers. The rest of them feel that they do not receive the necessary feedback that boosts their professional development.
Some of the most common aspects that coaching can help with include:
By providing regular feedback about their behaviors, practices, and results, employees can become more aware of how to better achieve the goals they set. As a coach, you should start with your own-self awareness to serve as an example for the team and ask for feedback that will help in your own self-coaching journey. For example, you can send out anonymous questionnaires so your employees can share their opinion about your working style.
Encourage employees to go out of their comfort zone in order to help them uncover new skills and improve confidence. For example, if you have creative people on board, include them in projects that require a lot of brainstorming and encourage their creativity.
Change is inevitable in the workplace, and knowing how to navigate it will help your organization quickly adapt to almost any situation. Of course, resilience comes from your people and the development of specific skills, such as:
- Strategic thinking
Coached employees develop professional skills faster since they have experienced colleagues to learn from. High team morale can literally keep a company afloat in hard times. People will work extra hard for a company they believe is healthy and supportive of their employees.
You teach morale constantly, even when you're not officially coaching, since employees are learning by example.
5. Work prioritization
As a leader, advanced organizational skills will save you a lot of time. By giving the advantage to the tasks and projects that are truly important, you’ll reach your strategic goals more efficiently.
Once you have realistic and measurable goals for the company, you should ensure your people understand them and their role in them. As a team leader, you must demonstrate the bigger picture to them - both for more extensive and smaller tasks.
The best way of teaching people work prioritization is modeling the desired behavior. Here are some of the practices you should adopt:
Highlight the most critical tasks
You could determine this based on customer expectations, requests from other departments, or how close the deadlines are. Let's say you have a marketing report due this week, based on which you'll set the budget for the next quarter - you should focus on this before other tasks since it has clear performance implications.
Make a visual reminder
Prioritizing is easier when you can see all your tasks in one place. This is where calendars can help you - your focus improves when you have a visual reminder of your tasks at hand. And you'll feel more accomplished when you see everything you've achieved for the day or week.
There are many distractions at the workplace, from ongoing written communication on social media to chatty coworkers. Some have become a part of your daily routine. And all these eat away your time at work and cause low productivity. Start improving time management skills by keeping your phone silent and turning off the notifications during working hours.
Regardless of how busy you feel when juggling five tasks simultaneously, this is not a smart way to manage your time.
Even if you manage to complete all tasks you're working on at the same time, you probably won't reach proper quality as if you were doing them one by one with full focus. And your team shouldn't do so as well. Besides that, multitasking equals distractions, which slows down the entire company.
Use time management tools
Technology is your friend here. There are time tracking apps that help you see the time you spend on each task to see the areas your team can improve.
On an individual level, you can use the Pomodoro technique to split your time at work. You will improve your focus and productivity by dividing it into high-productivity 25-minute batches into short breaks. This technique will help you reduce multitasking as well.
6. Providing feedback
Keeping a close eye on the performance of your teams should be one of your top priorities.
Feedback helps your people become aware of their strong points, as well as the things to improve, at the same time meeting the company's needs. In addition, regular feedback encourages employees to meet their goals and fast-track their professional development.
To be effective, feedback has to be:
- Timely - shortly after the event that is the reason for a feedback meeting, and regularly, through monthly or quarterly feedback sessions.
- Constructive - to offer positive solutions to your team
- Specific - so the members of your team can identify concrete pain points upon which to improve
- Detailed - to provide them with a clear understanding of the areas where they need to improve
Feedback is an important part of improving your team's performance because it helps you discover and improve the potential gaps in its performance. This is also an excellent way to increase team’s engagement, which positively contributes to overall productivity.
Traditional model of providing feedback has its benefits, but it comes with drawbacks as well. For example, it is top-down oriented so not all employees communicate their thoughts and impressions. Other forms of feedback, such as 360 degree feedback solve this problem.
It is an all-inclusive performance review where feedback from both management and employees are included. Sometimes, it can include the customers and external stakeholders. This way, everyone is involved in the process which helps you get a full picture.
You can also turn to online resources for more ideas. For example, use online evaluation tools such as Clifton Strengths Assessment test. It offers 177 paired statements and people are supposed to choose the ones that describe them the most (and rate the extent to which it does so). This helps you understand which particular strengths help people solve tasks effectively and how they can develop further.
Better Work-Life Balance
Workplace burnout is recognized as a medical diagnosis by the WHO, resulting from chronic stress experienced in the workplace. It impacts both the physical health and well-being of people in your organization and negatively affects their productivity. And your work environment suffers at the same time.
Luckily, as an organization, you can take steps to protect your employees from burnout. For example:
Openly support paid time off
Did you know that 45% of Americans get as much as two weeks off during the year, while 9% don’t get any? This is a recipe for burnout. As a manager, you need to make sure people are getting enough time to rest and recharge. Otherwise, solving the consequences of burnout can be much more costly than simply improving your vacation-policy.
Allow remote work
A flexible work setting plays a huge role in employee productivity. It separates them from the everyday bustle in the office and helps them complete tasks at their own pace.
Working from the comfort of their homes is proven to put your employees at ease and reduce their stress levels. And it will save them the time they usually spend commuting, allowing them to spend it on things they consider more valuable.
How to monitor the progress
With all these improvements in the workplace, it can become difficult to set realistic deadlines and measure the impact of changes. That's why you have to establish proper measurement systems to monitor your progress. Include the following:
- Frequent performance reviews of your employees. This will help you spot any negative behavior or problems they are facing that might need your assistance.
- One-on-one meetings. They are a great way to check up on the needs of your employees and ensure they are on the right track regarding their position in the company.
- Regular 360 reviews. Your employees can be of great help in improving the overall work environment. Implement regular 360-degree reviews to get insights about your people (and yourself) from all directions in the organization. You'll be surprised by how much you can learn about your company's performance using this tool and might get ideas to modify your goals to match your strategy better.
Conclusion about performance improvement areas
Improving your company performance by investing in your workforce will have a long-lasting positive impact on your business and encourage the progress of your entire team. Naturally, every employee wants to accomplish their goals and satisfy the expectations that are set upon them.
As a manager or a business owner, it is your job to provide guidance to them to accomplish their tasks with maximum proficiency.
Education, engagement, and challenges you implement on an individual, team, and department level, as well as the guidance you provide to your followers, are keys to a thriving business, and we've presented you with the tools to come closer to it.
FAQ: Performance Improvement Areas
What are your 3 main areas for improvement?
Three most important areas for improvement include:
- Interpersonal communication
Investing in these three areas can strengthen your workforce and make it much more productive and efficient, which, in turn, improves your overall business performance.
What are areas to improve professional performance?
Although improving professional performance is very complex and requires a comprehensive approach, here are some areas you can start with:
- Communication skills
- Work prioritization
- Interpersonal skills
- Giving and receiving feedback
It’s important to have a strategic approach with these performance improvement areas and set measurable goals, so you can monitor progress over time.