3 Ways to Improve Work Performance and Productivity


Understanding the ways to improve work performance and having the ability to produce excellent results that are consistent with organizational objectives is the test of business and corporate leadership. Time and again, we come across leaders, including small business owners behaving in ways that are counter-productive to growing a successful business. Why not? They simply don’t understand it.

With lots of leadership styles available, many people are often confused about what they can do to improve their performance. In my opinion, focusing on strategies that produce results is safer and gives more peace of mind. Below are three.  


3 ways to improve work performance

1. Avoid inappropriate performance review

Performance review is powerful and the best leaders do it regularly to manage their employees’ personal and professional development. It also helps in checking on how much clarity employees have on their jobs, and whether any interventions are necessary. The sad reality is that conducting performance reviews on the 360th day as many organizations do, does not support performance improvement and growth. At best, it only makes it a judgment day, when leaders pass sentences on their employees. Conducting performance review on a regular basis is one of the ways to improve work performance and productivity. 


Suggestions for improving performance review

As I coach entrepreneurs and senior executives to maximize performance, I discover that contrary to public opinions, creating results is not the primary role of leadership. Leadership thrives on developing other people to produce results, and a performance appraisal is a great tool for accomplishing that. This important role also requires leaders to understand the dynamics of giving and receiving feedback on an on-going basis.

Performance review begins with setting goals and communicating clear expectations to employees and teams. The moment goals are set and timelines agreed, it is important to communicate regularly to keep everyone abreast of their part in achieving the goal. With a performance goal, it is advisable to have regular conversations to address any performance issues that might arise. Without a performance goal, reviews can be frustrating and meaningless to both leaders and employees. 


2. Develop a Corporate Coaching Culture

At the close of a regular Monday morning review meeting, Emeka stormed out of the meeting room stressing: “I’ve told them the ways to improve work performance and they still don’t get it. I’ve sent them to training, and there is no result yet. They have to figure out how to improve work performance; else…”

Leaders need to understand the relationship between “Performance” and “Potential.” It is often not right to think that people do not perform because they lack experience. My experience is that about 90% of employees are qualified and experienced for the jobs they’re hired for. Lack of productivity occurs mainly when people are disconnected from their core potential. In practice,  several factors such as stress, fatigue, or psychological issues can cause such disconnection. From my experience of coaching entrepreneurs and CEOs to maximize performance, leaders who ask questions and allow their workers to figure out the solutions perform better than those who simply tell others what to do.


Suggestions for coaching in the workplace

Creating a corporate coaching culture is one of the ways to improve work performance. Coaching offers the basis for an on-going feedback about how well employees are performing. Coaching also helps leaders to learn about the challenges hindering their employees’ performances. Leaders who understand the concept of coaching facilitate the process to help workers identify their mistakes and fix them early enough.

The trouble is, like every other leadership skill, coaching has to be learned by leaders and managers. Often the transformation process can be frustrating because it is not always easy to switch from ‘telling’ to ‘coaching.’ I had a conversation about coaching with the HR Manager of a high street bank in Lagos, Nigeria. From that conversation, it was obvious the manager had no practical coaching experience but tried to coach his employees anyway. So, to him, it was a lot of frustration. “Even when you decided to not tell them what to do, you are forced to do so because you don’t know the right questions to ask, and they resist being coached” he confided with me.

There are two obvious reasons why employees resist coaching in the workplace. First, when management fails to make coaching a part of the organization’s corporate culture. Second, if line-managers do not have the requisite competence to coach their subordinates. In either case, leaders will have difficulty coaching their employees.

Creating a corporate coaching culture requires senior management’s approval. Such strategy is crucial for building engagement and trust, and becomes the framework for an ongoing performance management. It also helps frontline managers to learn how to coach their employees to produce better results. A strong coaching culture also helps to develop betters leaders having capabilities to listen, ask courageous questions, and address the fears of their people.


3. Set goals and establish accountability

Leaders who understand how to maximize productivity agree that leadership success begins with setting goals and establishing accountability. But goal setting is too popular that far too many leaders undermine its importance.

Accountability is crucial for high-performance because it transfers responsibility for taking action and achieving goals from leaders to employees. Setting goals and establishing accountability, therefore, is one of the ways to improve work performance. When leaders fail to set goals and establish accountability, they invariably take responsibility for everything, including chasing non-performing employees. Where there is accountability, team members take responsibility and even challenge themselves to produce better results. That’s because they understand the goal clearly, knows the actions to take, and the time to deliver the results.


Suggestions for setting goals and establishing accountability

Whether you want to achieve a sales target or produce management reports on time, setting goals and developing accountability can make a huge difference. When setting goals, be clear about what you want, when you want it, and how to measure it. Find out where you are on the goal presently, and determine the resources you will need to accomplish the goal. Clarify the key actions you must take, and the relevant team charters, including the accepted behaviours in the team. Be sure to provide reasonable resources for the team to take action and achieve the goal.  Once done, it’s time to hold weekly conversations with team members to be sure that thing is on track.

When developing accountability with your team, think of how your engagement with them could help to improve their results. I say that because, sometimes, many leaders think of accountability as an opportunity to exercise authority or avenge for insubordination. Instead, focus on what you can do to facilitate the person’s future development. Accountability is not a fault-finding instrument for judging or criticizing your employees. Rather, you can use it to uncover what’s holding them back from performing at their peak, so that together, you can develop a plan to overcome the obstacle.


In Conclusion

Developing people who create extraordinary results is an essential leadership role. Doing so usually involves three important steps:

  • Developing a simple approach to managing people’s performances,
  • Developing the capability to coach consistently, and
  • Setting goals and establishing accountability.

Not understanding and implementing the 3 ways to improve work performance and productivity could be detrimental to growing a successful business.


At CGC, we help our clients; entrepreneurs and CEOs to think differently, produce superior results, and achieve lifetime growth both personally and professionally.

  • See how our Executive Coaching approach can help senior leaders and executives in your organization to think differently, challenge their status quo, and produce superior results.
  • Explore our Corporate Coaching Framework to help your front-line managers to develop core-coaching competencies and transform from “managing” into “coaching.”
  • Bring our Leading High-Performance Teams masterclass into your organization to help your managers build an engaging work environment.
  • Help your employees to embrace conscious leadership by participating in our Developing Leadership Capability masterclass to understand what high-performance leaders do that make people follow them willingly.

Author: Nkem Mpamah
Nkem Mpamah is Nigeria's #1 business coach, leadership, and strategy consultant for the services industry. Nkem coaches successful entrepreneurs to improve performance, increase competitiveness, and expand their entrepreneurial freedoms. He is the founder of Cognition Global Concepts, and creator of the Growth Syndicate Program." Nkem is author of "The ART of Achievement and Fulfillment", and "The Entrepreneur".

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