4 Easy Steps to Improve Work Performance

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Here you’ll learn the four steps you can take to improve work performance with your team. The process is 100% based on academic research in the field of organizational psychology. Once you learn these steps you’ll see a real example of how the CEO of a major and growing technology company in North America followed these 4 steps to remove internal hurdles and improve work performance.

First, the boring part. But I promise, if you can make it through this explanation of what researchers have learned about what drives performance, the 4 Easy Steps to Improve Work Performance will be way more useful.

Research shows that employees do their best work in an environment where they feel comfortable. Researchers cleverly named this concept Person-Environment Fit.

When assessing how an individual (employee) fits into their environment (workplace) researchers look specifically at two areas.

  1. How an employee’s core values align with the core values of the group.
  2. The ways the organization interacts with employees. This includes things like how the organization rewards, communicates, makes decisions, inspires and mentors employees.

Think about the things YOU value! For me, I value high pay for high performance, a well defined role and sharing information freely. Put me in an environment that links pay and performance, sets clear expectations, and isn’t shy about keeping everyone up to speed on the info leadership uses to make decisions and I’m firing on all cylinders!

Do the opposite and I wilt, my engagement and performance begin to decrease. I probably start looking for other jobs, and eventually I leave! You get the idea…

If you want to learn more about employee core values check out this blog!

So now that you know the science, the 4 Easy Steps to Improve Work Performance will make way more sense! Here they are:

 

STEP 1 – Identify the core values of your team.
There’s a lot of depth to go into about values, but for this blog try your best to focus on the ways your employees prefer to be rewarded, communicate and make decisions.

Want to use a team building activity to identify your team’s core values, try the sticky note exercise in the second example of this post.

 

Example:

Sales Team Employee Core Values
  • Sharing information freely
  • Rewarding team success
  • Desiring a well defined role
  • Having high performance expectations
  • Informality

 

STEP 2 – Investigate the ways that you manage your direct reports TODAY. 
You need to be super honest with yourself here, so put away that ego! You want to evaluate every aspect of how you manage your team. Nothing is too big or small. Check out the sample below to see what I mean!

Example:

Sales Team Management Methods
  • Weekly contests reward top performers
  • Sales dashboard emailed to entire company
  • High degree of work professionalism expected
  • Under performers go on extended performance plans and even when performance slips are rarely fired
  • High base salaries

 

STEP 3 – Determine the alignment between the two.
Now that you know what’s important to your direct reports and also defined the environment it’s easy to see how the two align. Compare the management methods with the values of the employees or group. Using the same example I’ll show you what I mean:

Example:

Sales Team Employee Core Values Sales Team Management Methods
  • sharing information freely
  • rewarding team success
  • well defined role
  • high performance expectations
  • informality
  • Weekly contests reward top performers
  • Goals and expectations shift constantly
  • Sales dashboard emailed to entire company
  • High degree of work professionalism expected
  • Under performers go on extended performance plans and even when performance slips are rarely fired
  • High base salary

(It isn’t hard to see here that there is a major misalignment of employee values and the way you are managing those employees. No wonder performance is low!)

 

STEP 4 – Adjust as necessary.

This part is self explanatory. You need to make adjustments to assure that your people and your management strategy are aligned. Where do you start? Try a conversation! Pull your team together and discuss how they feel rewards and recognition are being handled, you might just be surprised when they help you build a fair and highly effective comp plan.

Like the format of the sample above, fill out a form and get your own Performance Improvement Worksheet HERE!

At RoundPegg, we provide companies and teams with the ability to understand what the top values of the group are, so management can align their operational strategy (i.e. how they manage employees) with this data. Check out this Customer Story for a very specific example of how a large company followed these steps to Improve Work Performance at the organizational level.

 

Customer Story

Technology Company Goes From Misunderstood and Underperforming to Data Informed Rocket Ship

In 2012 RoundPegg started work with a seasoned CEO at the helm of a growing technology company in the Pacific Northwest. His Board was applying pressure on him to create a “culture of accountability” after failing to hit revenue targets for the second year in a row. Even though the CEO was a credible leader with a great track record, he knew his job was on the line.

After applying RoundPegg’s culture values survey Leadership was surprised to learn that the company was split on a previously unrecognized value, Not Being Constrained By Many Rules. Half of the company wanted to work within a set of well-defined and well-understood rules and the other half wanted to have the flexibility and freedom to work outside of restricting rules.

When Management dug into this conflict further with their respective teams, they found that it was at the root of the organization’s performance challenges. They identified example after example of initiatives that had been stalled, priorities that weren’t agreed upon, and projects that had stagnated all due to disagreement around the rules and regulations, or lack thereof.

They had assumed this conflict was easily explained through functional group differences, i.e. Marketing vs. Engineering, but the RoundPegg data showed that same conflict regarding rules actually existed in 6 of 7 main business units across the company.

Leadership abandoned the culture change initiative that had been focused on accountability, especially since Taking Individual Responsibility was one of the top values for the organization, and instead decided to create clarity around rules and roles within the company. And based on their strategic objectives they decided that rules would no longer be optional – they would now become a rules-driven organization moving forward.

The new cultural focus on rules was communicated across the organization and hiring, development, rewards and engagement all focused on encouraging and reinforcing rules. After two years of middling performance the company exceeded their projections and the CEO remained in control of the company.

 

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