How to Improve Employee Performance

The age-old question: How to improve employee performance? If the question ever crossed your mind, then this is the article for you!


Leen Sawalha

VP Product & Growth

Friday, March 13, 2015


The question that people have been researching for decades and decades: How to improve employee performance? I’m sure some of you have tried it all, as I’m sure some of you may have been successful for a while, while others weren’t quite as fortunate.

But improving and maintaining high performance is one of the biggest challenges faced by any organization, and the matter of the fact is there is no secret, magical equation to improving employee performance. But don’t worry! There certainly are a few things you can do that will help you on this admirable mission.

It’s not easy, and it’s not stress-free; but my goal is to help you out with a few tips that you should keep in mind:

#1 – Communication and Feedback

Every article you’ve ever read about how to improve employee performance probably included this point. As they should; that’s how important communication and feedback are. You can read all about the strategies and tactics on how to improve the performance of your employees but, as I’m sure you’ve all noticed, there is no one key solution.

Because employee performance depends on numerous factors, it’s critical that you communicate with your employees, and give and receive feedback. This will allow you to stay on top of their needs, changing attitudes and motivations.

Take the initiative and make sure you schedule regular meetings with your staff to discuss how you can help them improve their performance at work.

Not having time is not a valid excuse; the return you will get from a 30-minute meeting over lunch is invaluable. So come on, get on it!

#2 – Give them the right tools

You can have the most talented team of individuals you could ever possibly dream of, but they will produce nothing if you don’t give them the right tools. Plain and simple.

This points becomes even more important if your industry is constantly changing and requires a great deal of adaptability. Communication and feedback also play a role here and ensure that you remain aware of changes in the job or industry, and that you constantly provide your employees with the tools that make them as performing as they can be.

#3 – Engagement

Doesn’t a motivated employee who’s committed to achieving organizational goals sound exactly like what you’re looking for when trying to improve employee performance? I think so!

But I’m not going to get into this very topic when a colleague of mine has already written an awesome article on encouraging employee engagement, so be sure to check it out!

#4 – Make sure they’re the right “fit”

I’m certain that, at this point, you are all familiar with how important “fit” is when hiring a new employee. And if you’re an avid reader of my articles (and I hope you are!) you also know that employee fit is also crucial for complete organizational development.

We often try to make sure a new hire will fit well with the job description, but the reality is that that’s just not enough. More often than not, this new hire will go through many different “phases” throughout their lifecycle at the organization. Some do so well that their responsibilities and tasks increase, some take on completely different tasks, some get different team members or managers, some change departments, some leave…the list is endless.

So, if you’re really serious about improving the performance of your employees, you need to make sure the fit is right. And when I say “fit”, I mean complete fit, and here’s what that includes:

a) Improving employee performance by ensuring Job-Fit

Make sure your employee’s strengths and characteristics are consistent with those that are inherently needed to complete the job successfully.

What does that mean? If the job requires organizational skills, then make sure the person has a natural reflex to be organized. If the job needs someone who follows rules and procedures to the letter, then don’t have someone who is more adaptable in that role.

That’s not to say that an adaptable person won’t be able to follow rules and procedures, nor is it that more spontaneous people can’t be organized. Of course they can! After all, we all learn to do what needs to be done to complete the task at hand. However, it is more difficult for someone who isn’t naturally organized to be so all the time, and the same goes for any other personality characteristic.

Not only that, but if you ensure that there is a fit between the job and person, then you can also be sure that they won’t have to go against their natural tendencies all the time. In fact, they will find it easier and more enjoyable when they can apply their inherent strengths to perform better. Trust me on that one!

b) Organizational-Fit is a large contributor to employee performance

Sure, the employee needs to “fit” with the job, but it’s also necessary that they have organizational-fit, as well. If you want to learn how to improve employee performance, then you should be aware of the organizational goals, values, and core competencies that are designed to lead your company to success. Once you have that information, then you can be sure that organizational-fit exists and that your employees are actively working towards reaching these goals.

Many of you might not see organizational-fit as being directly related to improving employee performance, but before you completely make up your mind, consider this definition: employee core competencies are the set of knowledge, skills, and capabilities that an employee needs in order to be successful in an organization, and it is the cornerstone of the employee’s development, performance, and overall success within the company.

If your company and its employees share the same core competencies, then you have a pretty good chance of achieving organizational fit. Now whether or not you agree, you can’t deny that a lack of fit could very well hinder employee performance. So why take the chance?

c) Don’t forget about Team-Fit!

Did you think that ensuring job and organizational fit would be enough? Think again! If you want to improve employee performance, then you need to consider all the factors, and team-fit is an important one!

When your employees work closely with others within the organization, then you can’t just consider them as individuals when looking to improve their performance. They may be good, have the right tools, and have the characteristics, skills, and competencies to fit with the job and organization, but if they can’t work well with their team members, or be effectively motivated by the right managerial style, then how much can you really expect them to perform?

It is essential that you ensure the level of compatibility between team members, and ensure that their manager has the right style to lead and motivate them.

If you can get all these “fit” components together, then you will most certainly be on the right track to improve employee performance!

The answer to the age-old question “how to improve employee performance” is certainly not black and white, but it isn’t an impossible task either. Make sure your employees have the right fit with the job, organization, and team, make sure they have the right tools to perform, encourage their engagement in everything you do, and always, always, communicate and get their feedback. Do these and I guarantee you’ll be on your way to improving employee performance in no time!

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