One of the most important things to focus on to be successful at work is improving. The key as a leader, you must always strive for better and never settle for good enough. Whether a manager is new or experienced, there are always things they can do to be even a better leader and provide the best experience for their team. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day job of managing processes and not spend time thinking about the things to improve on at work. You may feel like you’re doing a great job, but there is always room for improvement.
Here are 10 examples of things to improve on at work:
1. Learn to be Persuasive
Persuasion is the act of convincing someone by argument, evidence, reasoning, or sometimes emotional manipulation.
It is an indirect attempt to influence the opinions and actions of other people through verbal declarations and non-verbal messages such as gestures and presentations.
Persuasion, unlike coercion and manipulation, is a voluntary activity. You cannot persuade anyone to do something without their consent. People don’t feel compelled to say yes if they have options available for saying no.
So, while you may be looking to get one person to say yes when it comes to getting your employees on board with an idea or plan for action, you’re looking instead at having everyone agree together. And that’s very different work indeed.
2. Be more Open-minded
To be open-minded means being willing to hear other perspectives and not judging or dismissing anything they say.
Keep in check your righteousness so that it doesn’t lead you to be too condescending and, of course, block any new views or knowledge for fear of diminishing yourself.
Too often, managers reject ideas just because they don’t match their thoughts in some ways. So, put aside all your biases and self-opinions.
Your employees have some ideas that may be better than yours. The key to being an effective manager is to be open-minded when discussing others’ ideas in the workplace, and this starts by encouraging your employees to share their thoughts with you.
You’ll never know it may turn out to be something great that can bring incremental or massive improvements at work.
Related article: 8 Examples of What to Tell Your Manager to Improve On
3. Listen more Deeply
It is far too easy for managers to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of managing people and forget to focus on understanding their employees.
Take the time to listen more deeply to your employees. It might lead you to what is going on with them, especially when they are not going through some tough time.
When their performance drops, try to understand why they are not giving their best efforts. There could be many reasons. They could be unhappy at work, not having enough autonomy, or feeling unappreciated.
You want to learn about why your employees are not performing to your expectations. So, try to listen more deeply. Ask yourself what it is you want the person in front of you to do.
If they say something you do not fully hear, ask them to clarify and repeat what they are saying.
It is common for a manager’s brain to wander for a second or two while talking to employees. So, it helps to have the person go over some sentences again.
4. Disagree Thoughtfully and Respectfully
Many people in the workplace can’t stand any disagreement that ends with someone being offended. When you make a point, try to acknowledge it in a way that feels sincerely respectful.
The worst feeling is the one employees get when someone on your team makes a brilliant point about work issues, and at first, all you do is smile awkwardly because your knee-jerk response is opposite theirs.
You act as if your staff members are not worth considering for any meaningful discussion. At the very least, your employees deserve an explanation as to why you disagree with them. You want them to buy into your ideas.
If the person is frustrated by something in the workplace, listen and offer alternative suggestions. The principle is to lead by example.
So, always remember that everyone deserves respect – even more so when you’re in the workplace environment — so be thoughtful and kind.
5. Stop Over-focusing on Tasks
People are great at doing things correctly but less at remembering the result. What should happen (the outcome) is often more important than what you do when you want to achieve the result.
A plan with goals in mind can help you manage your work better by identifying critical steps and connecting them with tasks to avoid poor practices such as multitasking that affect productivity. Start focusing on outcomes instead of tasks.
The key to achieving what you want at work is to set goals. Goals are a framework and structure for articulating your desires and expectations, while outcomes provide a context within which you can measure progress.
Clear priorities help to improve on specific aspects of your work. Be careful not to over-focus on tasks without considering their contribution to the outcome.
6. Read Every Email your Employees Send
Most employees know that their managers are always busy and that there will be periods when you don’t have time to read emails.
There are other good reasons not to read all your emails, especially when you’re a manager. But employees get frustrated by the lack of response to their emails.
It shows a lack of regard for the person who sent it and an insult to their intelligence. In other words, they are not worth your time. If someone takes the time to write an email, you would surely take the time out from whatever else you’re doing to read it.
Why wouldn’t you give the same courtesy? Not only does this indicate that you’re not interested in what they want to say, but if the problem is urgent, then it would be a gross oversight on your part.
Also, it might cause them to be apprehensive about whether or not they should even send you anything in the first place. It could lead to someone in the future playing it safe and decide not to send you some critical information.
7. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
The SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based – which are the five factors of a good goal:
• Specific: what you want to do needs to be well outlined and described
• Measurable: you need to measure your progress
• Attainable: challenging without being unrealistic
• Realistic: it must address the aspects of your job
• Time-based or Deadline Based: set deadlines so that you know when you will complete the work. Deadlines force urgency on situations where otherwise there would not be any until much later.
Setting SMART goals and assigning them makes it easier for teams to work together and maintain their focus so there’s no confusion over who should do what and when to do it.
Regardless of your position, whether you’re managing an entire team or just one person, having smart goals will allow you to assess the progress and change your approach if necessary.
It also means that you have a list of actions that will drive immediate results in reaching your goal or staying focused without getting distracted by anything else.
8. Deal with Employee Apathetic
Be aware that employees become apathetic for a reason and find out the underlying cause and take action. Many things can cause employee apathy, but usually, it comes from heavy work overload, lack of rewards, micromanagement, or poor relationships within the team or supervisors.
Deficiency in these areas can worsen staff morale and consequently productivity over time. As a manager, how you respond to these signs will go a long way towards improving performance. You have to be proactive instead of ignoring these issues until they reach a crisis point.
There are many ways to tackle apathy on your team. First, you need to accept that trust is an in-out process. It means you have to be trustworthy for your employees to care about their work and do it well.
If people don’t trust you, they will be enthusiastic about their work. So, make sure that people can trust you as their manager.
9. Addressing Poor Performance Earlier
Many managers struggle with how to address poor performance. It is because they don’t know what it means when someone is not performing well.
An employee’s performance can range from being deficient in their work or having an issue with attitude.
Either way, you need to deal with it as soon as possible. Poor performers should be dealt with at the earliest stage to minimize the effects on your workplace culture and productivity.
Always first try and understand the root causes of poor performance before trying anything else. Has your employee been given too much responsibility? Is the person managed improperly? Is there a lack of motivation or understanding in their work?
Identify the problem and find a solution before you take measures to remediate any unacceptable behavior. Remember that punishing an employee is not always the best option, especially if you don’t know what is causing them to perform poorly.
10. Gain a Better Understanding of Individual Preferences
As a manager, it’s good to understand your employee’s individual preferences and then cater to those. People have different needs. Some need more space, some are introverts, and others are extroverts.
Some employees want constant feedback, while others would prefer weekly updates. Keep in mind that people also think differently, and the way they process information is different.
Often managers don’t acknowledge that other people have different needs. People should have basic needs met at work — if not, it becomes too difficult to be productive.
If you want someone to perform well and have a good work ethic, you need to grant them the dignity and respect they deserve.
You don’t hire employees for only what they know. You hire people because of who they are — their personality, work ethic, attitude, and backgrounds.
Demonstrate sincere interest in a person’s needs before demanding anything from them. It is all about showing humility and honor to the employees on your team, and everyone benefits from stronger relations at work. Hesitation breeds doubt, which means you need to do it as soon as possible.
Being aware of what is happening and why, communicating well, managing expectations about what you need from others are examples of the things to improve on at work.
To be an effective manager does not mean that you have to do more work than anyone else. You are in charge of guiding people’s focus and setting direction for them to take action.
Empowering your team by providing opportunities for them to make decisions and stop micromanaging is the best practice for successful leadership. Your team members should feel like there’s an opportunity to fail, learn, and succeed.
Do you have some examples of things to improve on at work you would like to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below or contact us to discuss this further topic