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
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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

An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments.

Go back to the late 1990s, before the bursting of the Internet/technology bubble. Back then, investors stood an equal chance of selecting E-Toys over Amazon or some no longer in existence networking equipment maker over Cisco.

“History is littered with examples of prospering industries with no indication of which company will come to dominate the industry,” according to Nasdaq. “This suggests that successful thematic investing is more about selecting baskets of investments rather than single securities.”1

The ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) provides basket exposure to a broad swath of thematic investments. DTEC features exposure to not just one or two emerging technologies, but 10 such themes on an equal-weight basis.

Disruptive Efficiency

The 10 themes represented in DTEC are as follows: 3D printing, clean energy, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data and analytics, fintech, healthcare innovation, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile payments and robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Generally speaking, fund issuers have been quick to respond to disruptive and transformative technologies, bringing products to market to tap these themes. Prior to DTEC coming to market late last year, there were ETFs devoted exclusively to cloud computing, cybersecurity, robotics and other themes featured in DTEC. However, few use the basket approach to themes employed by DTEC.

Related: Getting Paid to Play The Energy Patch

February, a rough month for U.S. stocks, highlighted the advantages of DTEC's multi-theme methodology. Seven of the 10 themes found in the fund finished the month lower, but DTEC was able to outperform the S&P 500 on a monthly basis.

Focusing on individual themes can be rewarding over the long-term, but not all investors have the risk tolerance for such a strategy. Consider this: the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index jumped more than 48% in 2017. That type of performance is enough to seduce many investors, but that same benchmark slipped 7.60% in February, generating monthly volatility of 34.10%.Said another way, that robotics and AI index's February slide was more than triple the loss experienced by DTEC during the month.

More Advantages

While it probably is not accurate to call the indexes devoted to individual disruptive themes “old,” many use old school weighting methodologies. For example, the two largest components in the ISE Cloud Computing Index are Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). Only two members of the S&P 500 have larger market values than Amazon while Netflix currently has a larger market cap than Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD).

Holdings subject ot change as of 12/31/17

For its part, DTEC not only equally weights its 10 disruptive themes, but its 100 components as well, potentially reducing single stock risk in the process. As the chart below confirms, equally weighting stocks is rewarding across sectors and market capitalization segments.

Past performance does not guarantee future results

Annualized returns for the past 10 years show seven of the 11 S&P 500 sectors, when equally weighted, outperform cap-weighted equivalents, according to S&P. Three of those seven sectors – financial services, healthcare and technology – are prominent parts of DTEC's roster.

1 Source: Nasdaq Dec. 28, 2015 https://www.nasdaq.com/article/what-thematic-investing-is-and-its-strengths-and-risks-cm559209

2 Source: ETF Replay data


An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus which contain this and other information call 866.675.2639 or visit www.alpsfunds.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

An investment in the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) may be subject to substantially greater risk and volatility than investments in larger and more mature technology companies.

There is no assurance that the market developments and sector growth based upon the themes discussed in the article will come to pass.

ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF shares are not individually redeemable. Investors buy and sell shares of the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF on a secondary market. Only market makers or “authorized participants” may trade directly with the Fund, typically in blocks of 50,000 shares.

ALPS Advisors, Inc. (AAI) has engaged IRIS Werks, LLC (IRIS) to produce analysis and commentary on ALPS-advised ETFs. IRIS currently has a compensated business relationship with AAI. AAI is not affiliated with IRIS.

The content and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and not the views and opinions of AAI.  In addition, AAI assumes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content written by the author.

There are risks involved with investing in ETFs including the loss of money. Additional information regarding the risks of this investment is available in the prospectus. Past Performance is not indicative of future results.

The fund is new and has limited operating history.

ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc. is the distributor for the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF. AAI is affiliated with ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc.

The author is not an investment professional and this article should not be considered investment advice. While the information and statistical data contained herein are based on sources believed to be reliable, the author takes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content. Additionally, this article should not be relied on or be the basis for an investment decision. Information that is historical is not indicative of future results, and subject to change.

S&P 500®: A capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

S&P SmallCap 600®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.

S&P MidCap 400®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the mid-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.

Indxx Global Robotics & Artifical Intelligence Thematic Index: The Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index is designed to track the performance of companies listed in developed markets that are expected to benefit from the increased adoption and utilization of robotics and Artificial Intelligence ("AI"), including companies involved in Industrial Robotics and Automation, Non-Industrial Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Vehicles.

Tom Lydon
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IRIS Co-Founder and Editor and proprietor of ETFtrends.com. Tom is a frequent contributor to major print, radio and television media including Forbes, The Wall Street Jou ... Click for full bio