20 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work

20 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work

Personal and professional development help ward off negative thoughts that prevent us from taking steps towards self-improvement.

We often sit back and wait for an annual performance review to identify areas we need to improve. Position yourself to be accountable, improve your skill set, and continually learn by setting personal benchmarks and reviewing them regularly. Learning leads to a better quality of life, boosts confidence and personal development, and influences our life in a positive way.

Here are 20 ways you can take control, improve your reputation and performance at work, and reach new skill levels and professional development.                  

1) Organize & Prioritize

Create a daily schedule and follow it. Identify the top three or four critical projects that need to be completed. Ensure your task list is manageable, adds value, and benefits your firm.

2) Stop Multitasking

Guilty as charged! In the past I’ve been a master multitasker, or so I thought. I could answer a phone call, respond to an email, and dabble on a project simultaneously. I was satisfied that I could work on several projects at once. In reality, the quality of my work was compromised. Multitasking lowers IQ, lowers EQ (emotional intelligence), slows you down, increases stress levels, and causes mistakes. Master unitasking instead.

3) Avoid Distractions

Did you know that focus is a fundamental quality of productive people? Our brains are wired to work best when we focus on a single task. Practice staying focused and strive to complete one task before diving into another.

4) Manage Interruptions

It’s easy to minimize or forget how many times we’re interrupted during the day. Interruptions can come in all forms: co-workers, bosses, family, etc. Here’s a great trick to manage your interruptions. Keep a stack of post it notes or index cards nearby. On the top of each one, write down a person’s name who may interrupt you during the day. The next time they stop in and ask, “Do you have a minute?” say yes, and also talk about the things you’ve jotted down on your list for them. Imagine the time you would save if everyone interrupted you once a day to discuss the three or four things they thought of, rather than three or four times a day for one item.

5) Be a Great Finisher

Many of us are great starters but we fall short on finishing. Think about how many times you’ve started something new: a project, a New Year’s resolution, or a letter and end up adding it back on your to-do list. Keep a journal of completed projects and reflect on it to demonstrate your contributions and accomplishments.

6) Set Milestones

The road to completing a big project may seem overwhelming. Don’t let that stop you from taking time to celebrate interim achievement. Break large projects into blocks of mini-tasks and set individual success metrics to keep your morale and energy levels high. Record your progress, reward yourself, and share your progression with the team.

7) Wear the Bosses Shoes

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Think about the big picture and look at goals from his/her perspective. One of the most effective strategies is to empathize and discover what his/her aspirations are. Ask questions, “What are you looking for in an employee?” or “What skills and qualities does it take to be successful in my position?” 

8) Get a Mentor/Be a Mentor

Enhance your skills with a mentor. A mentor can offer new insight, perspective, and vision. Working with a mentor will stretch your thinking and supply you with a stream of self-development ideas related to your unique skills and talent. Don’t forget that you can gain experience by mentoring someone else and facilitate your own professional growth which will position you as an asset to your firm.

9) Simply Listen

Listening is vital to effective communication. Spend time thinking about how you listen. Do you interrupt others? Mature listening skills lead to increased productivity with fewer mistakes, innovative growth, and higher client satisfaction rates.

10) Aim for Clarity

Clarity provides confidence. Ask questions if you are not 100 percent sure of your responsibilities. Schedule time quarterly to re-evaluate firm goals, how your responsibilities fulfill those goals, and how you can better partner with team members to reach each goal.

11) Research

Take time to research. Don’t waste other’s time; do your homework before taking on a new task. You’ll be better prepared to present strategies to reach each objective.

12) Write a Letter to Your Future Self

Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 3 years, or even 5 years? What will be the same? What will be different? Write a letter to yourself and work hard to become that person.

13) Identify Your Blind Spots

Blind spots are areas we are unaware of about ourselves and may cause good intentions to be perceived in a negative way. Blind spots can hold you back and prevent professional development. To identify blind spots you must be willing to look at yourself honestly, ask others for feedback, and be willing to make changes. Reach out to your peers and ask how you are perceived; you may discover behaviors that hinder your influence as well as strengths you’re not aware of. View feedback as an asset rather than a judgement; which will allow you to make adjustments to align your reputation with your ideal self.

14) Simplify Something

Often we do things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” even if it’s complicated or messy. Find something each week to simplify or automate: a difficult system or process, a messy office, daily tasks, or email. Your efficiency will increase by keeping things simple.

 15) Ask Questions

Constantly challenge yourself by asking, “Is there a more effective way to achieve the same results?” Brainstorm to determine if you are working as efficiently as possible. Always believe that things can be improved.

16) Know Your Competition

Know and observe your competition. Identify what they’re doing right and use it as a learning opportunity to implement something new at your firm.

 17) Acknowledge Others

Help others excel, express gratitude, and give credit where credit is due. You’ll be surprised how much encouragement and motivation a simple, “Great job!” provides. Your team is bound to grow and rise together.

18) Read

Read at least one personal development or industry related article each day. Start a journal to record your notes, identify what you learned, and determine how you can apply your findings personally or in the workplace. Share your information with others to establish expertise.

19) Give Yourself Down Time

Vacation time is critical to professional development. Without it, stress and burn out levels increase and productivity declines. Schedule time away from the office to expand your horizons, re-energize, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

20) Practice Humility

Avoid self-promotion and practice humility. Encourage team members and hold a high respect for their unique skill set and contributions to success.

Passion is one of the most important drivers of success. If you don’t love what you do, it’s difficult to put your best effort forward and perform to the best of your ability. Ensure your values are reflected and respected in your personal and professional life so that you see true meaning in all that you do.

Michelle Mosher
Development
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Michelle Mosher, is the Business Development/Marketing/Social Media Specialist at Ironstone and brings over 25 years of financial industry experience to the team. She is ... Click for full bio

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

Written by: Jon Sabes

When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward. 


However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:

  • He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
  • He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
  • When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
  • While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
  • In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
     

Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.

Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.

Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.

His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”

When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”

On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.

“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”


That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing.  Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.

Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”

When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it.  He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.

I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.

GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio