work performance http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/17554/all en-US The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_67204101_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="improving his work performance with these free tools" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With tight deadlines and heavy workloads, there are never enough hours in a day to get everything done. If you find yourself constantly pressed for time, your work performance can get impacted. Constant stress at work can cause mistakes and delays. But there are free tools that can help improve productivity, stay organized, and catch errors, and improve your output at work.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-sluggish-workday-go-a-lot-faster?ref=seealso">How to Make Your Sluggish Workday Go (a Lot) Faster</a></p> <h2>1. Reduce Typos With Grammarly</h2> <p><a href="http://grammarly.com/">Grammarly</a> is a free grammar checker, more powerful than the standard spell check tools in Word or Outlook. While you can use it to proofread your projects, you can also install the extension so that it will scan your blogs, social media posts, and emails for typos and errors and correct them &mdash; before you send them to your boss (or the public). Unlike other tools, Grammarly uses context clues to identify issues with misused words, such as if you typed &quot;manger&quot; instead of &quot;manager.&quot; It will also highlight grammatical errors, explaining the issues and how to fix them. If you have always struggled with past participles and direct objects, Grammarly is an easy way to get in-the-moment guidance. While there is a premium version that is more detailed, the free option is robust enough to help improve your daily communications.</p> <h2>2. Manage Your To-Do List With Wunderlist</h2> <p>Between work and your home life, juggling errands, tasks and shopping lists can be overwhelming. To-do list apps can help make things simpler. <a href="http://www.wunderlist.com">Wunderlist</a> is a powerful platform that lets you create and share lists, prioritize tasks, and set up reminders for deadlines or recurring projects. It is available on your phone or desktop, so it can be accessed any time, anywhere.</p> <h2>3. Take Notes on the Go With Evernote</h2> <p>If you're the type of person who depends on a notepad and a pen to take notes and stay organized, you know how frustrating it is if you have a great idea and don't have paper in front of you or if you forgot your notes at your desk. <a href="http://www.evernote.com">Evernote</a> is a solution that lets you take notes anywhere. Type reminders to yourself, take a picture of something that inspires you, or save a snapshot of whiteboard drawings to refer to later. The free plan offers 60 MB of storage and can help you manage various projects and long-term plans.</p> <h2>4. Produce Professional Graphics With Canva</h2> <p>Whether you're a social media manager or simply need to make professional looking graphics as part of your job, design software can be prohibitively expensive &mdash; the basic cloud-based version of InDesign alone can cost over $230 &mdash; and cumbersome for new users. <a href="http://www.canva.com">Canva</a> makes it easy to create polished images, even if you have no graphic design training. There are free templates, images, and elements that are fully customizable. Premium content, such as stock photos, can be added for just an additional $1. You can also upload your own images to use to create custom artwork.</p> <h2>5. Simplify Timesheets With Timely</h2> <p>If you need to track billable hours, you know how difficult it can be to manage and reconcile your timesheets. Unlike other tracking platforms, <a href="https://timelyapp.com/">Timely</a> allows you to track hours as you work but also provides a calendar so you can plan ahead. That way, you can compare time you actually spend on a project versus how much time you thought it would take, helping you budget your time more accurately.</p> <h2>6. Manage Emails With Boomerang</h2> <p><a href="http://www.boomeranggmail.com/">Boomerang</a> can completely change how you handle email and increase your productivity. It allows you to hide emails for a certain amount of time and schedule emails ahead of time. If you're one of those people who just can't ignore an email in your inbox, the hide feature can be useful in helping you focus on your tasks at hand. You can set reminders so that when you do need to address the email, it will flag it for you. By scheduling emails, you can write out notes as you think about them, but plan to send them the next morning or when a coworker is back from vacation, keeping it from getting lost in an overcrowded inbox (or you can make your boss think you work long into the night by scheduling emails at 2:00 a.m.). Boomerang also allows you to set up a follow-up feature, so if you have not received a response, it will notify you and ask if you'd like to send a reminder.</p> <h2>7. Automate Tasks With If This Then That</h2> <p><a href="https://ifttt.com/">If This Then That</a> (IFTTT) is a free service that allows to create &quot;recipes,&quot; or actions in response to specific triggers. For instance, you can set it up so that if someone tags you on Twitter, a private message to that user is automatically generated. Or, if you get a new follower on Facebook, ITTT can establish a recipe which saves a photo of that user for your archives. It can help you manage social media platforms around the clock &mdash; and a whole lot more.</p> <p><em>Do you use any free tools to help with work performance? Share with us!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%25207%2520Best%2520Free%2520Tools%2520to%2520Improve%2520Your%2520Work%2520Performance.jpg&amp;description=The%207%20Best%20Free%20Tools%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Work%20Performance"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%207%20Best%20Free%20Tools%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Work%20Performance.jpg" alt="The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance" width="250" height="374" /></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-essential-tools-for-getting-work-done-anywhere">7 Essential Tools for Getting Work Done -- Anywhere!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-healthy-habits-to-take-to-work">10 Healthy Habits to Take to Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-career-tips-your-younger-self-would-give-you">9 Career Tips Your Younger Self Would Give You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-deal-when-youre-way-behind-at-work">6 Ways to Deal When You&#039;re Way Behind at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-more-out-of-business-trips">10 Ways to Get More Out of Business Trips</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Career Building Productivity apps free free tools jobs productivity tools work work performance Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:30:15 +0000 Kat Tretina 1775077 at http://www.wisebread.com Ace Your Next Performance Review With These 7 Tricks http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_working_happy_000022817538_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning ways to ace her performance review" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An upcoming performance review can certainly mess with your emotions. On one hand, you may be ready to hear what your employer has to say, especially if a positive review might result in a salary increase. On the other, you may be nervous at the possibility that you're not meeting your employer's expectations. And that sucks. But there's plenty you can do beforehand to maximize your performance review. Consider these seven tips to help ensure you get those gold stars.</p> <h2>1. Go in With an Open Mind</h2> <p>Prior to meeting with your boss for a performance review, you need to prepare your mind for the possibility of hearing something negative. Overall, your boss may be satisfied with your performance. But there's always room for growth, so she might also highlight areas that need improving.</p> <p>It's natural to become defensive, but don't immediately jump in and offer an explanation or justify your actions. Let your boss finish and listen to her concerns. There may be some truth to those claims. Besides, any negative feedback you receive likely comes from a good place. Your employer wants you to succeed and reach your potential. If she didn't, she wouldn't bother providing feedback.</p> <h2>2. Ask for Clarification</h2> <p>You're not the only one nervous during a performance review. Your employer may also be a little anxious, especially if he's bringing up items you need to work on. If he's nervous or has to meet with many of your coworkers in a short amount of time, he may rush the review or not express himself clearly. This can result in vague statements and misunderstandings. You shouldn't leave the meeting confused or puzzled, so don't be afraid to ask for clarification or specific examples. You can't improve your work performance when you don't fully understand the issue.</p> <h2>3. Understand Your Employer's Expectations</h2> <p>If you don't receive a good performance review, the problem may have nothing to do with lack of effort, but rather different expectations. In your mind, you're hitting the mark and helping the company succeed, yet your boss thinks otherwise. For example, maybe you put a lot of time and energy into meeting deadlines, but your boss feels you don't take the initiative or contribute to the team in other ways. To maximize the takeaways from a performance review, ask your boss to clarify her expectations. Based on this information, you can set short and long-term goals to improve your performance.</p> <h2>4. Take Notes During the Review</h2> <p>Your employer may have a lot to say during a performance review, and you may forget some of the important points. Therefore, come prepared to take notes. You can jot down your weaknesses, as well as your strengths. This way you'll get a clear picture of how you're performing as a whole. Taking notes also leaves a good impression with your employer. This shows that you're committed to improving and growing as an employee and giving 100% to the job.</p> <h2>5. Don't Slack After a Positive Review</h2> <p>Performance reviews aren't always negative. Your employer may have nothing but good things to say about your work performance. You might meet all his expectations, and you might be the best worker on the job. It's okay to give yourself a pat on the back, but don't let a perfect review go to your head. Let this be your motivation to continue on the right path. This isn't the time to slack off or think you don't have to work as hard. You want to continue to impress your employer so that your next review will be equally positive.</p> <h2>6. Summarize Key Points</h2> <p>To show your boss you were listening during the review, end the meeting by summarizing in your own words his <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-certifications-that-add-big-to-your-salary">suggestions for improvement</a>. Briefly explain how you plan to address these issues moving forward.</p> <h2>7. Schedule a Mid-Year Review</h2> <p>If possible, don't wait until your next performance review to track your progress. During the initial meeting, discuss goals with your employer and then see if you can schedule another meeting in the upcoming months to evaluate your progress thus far. If your employer conducts annual performance reviews, maybe you can schedule another meeting in six months. Or if your employer conducts reviews every six months, perhaps he can schedule a follow-up review in three months.</p> <p><em>What do you do to maximize your performance review? I'd love to hear some of your tips in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work">12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-healthy-habits-to-take-to-work">10 Healthy Habits to Take to Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-this-job-worth-it">Is This Job Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-skills-that-helped-your-boss-get-ahead">6 Skills That Helped Your Boss Get Ahead</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building boss employee Office performance review work work performance Mon, 16 Nov 2015 09:15:53 +0000 Mikey Rox 1612346 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons Your Coworkers Think You're a Slacker http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-coworkers-think-youre-a-slacker <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-your-coworkers-think-youre-a-slacker" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_work_paper_airplane_000022233591.jpg" alt="Man realizing why his co-workers think he&#039;s a slacker" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Think you're pulling the wool over your coworkers' eyes when you're not pulling your weight around the workplace? Think again. Not only do your colleagues notice, but they're probably starting to resent you for having to pick up your slack. Nip your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-office-mistakes-everyone-makes-but-doesnt-talk-about">underperformance problem</a> in the bud with these six signs that you're the weakest link, and help bring balance back to an otherwise out-of-sync office.</p> <h2>1. Taking Credit For Something You Didn't Do</h2> <p>Everybody knows there's no 'I' in team, but your co-workers are starting to realize that there are a few 'I's in &quot;biggest jerk in the office&quot; if you're grandstanding about accomplishments that were a group effort &ndash; especially if it's to make up for your lack of contribution in the first place. Everyone on the team should share in group wins equally, but more importantly, each person should be giving their all to the effort, so that win can be attributed to everyone on the team. If you're prone to riding the coattails of others, it's time to break that habit and work harder for your money.</p> <h2>2. Arriving Late and Leaving Early</h2> <p>Showing up a few minutes late here and there isn't a huge problem, but if you're strolling into the office six minutes late everyday and leaving five minutes early &ndash; which probably seems innocuous, because it's a small amount of time in each instance &ndash; you're not being respectful of your position or all your colleagues who are there at the beginning and end of their shifts every day. And if you think about it, those 11 paid minutes a day that you're skipping out on really add up. If you operate on that hypothetical schedule for five days a week, you've wasted nearly an entire hour of your company's time &ndash; and that won't go over well for long.</p> <p>&quot;People who are chronically late either don't see it as a problem, or don't think the people around them care; neither are true,&quot; says Chad Reid, director of communications for an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jotform.com">online form builder</a>. &quot;While habitually late people are typically late to things well beyond the office, it can be addressed.&quot;</p> <p>If this sounds like you, you're likely in need of a routine change that could include going to bed earlier, waking up earlier, preparing for the next day ahead of time, altering your route to work, or other time-saving measures that could save your job.</p> <h2>3. Spending Too Much Time on Social Media</h2> <p>Many of us have integrated social media into our jobs, and for some of us it's actually a requirement that we keep up our companies' presences online. Fair enough. But just because managing social media accounts is in your job description, that doesn't give you carte blanche to spend endless hours browsing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (unless that's what you were specifically hired to do), nor does it mean that you can access your personal accounts for prolonged periods of time while your tasks at hand are neglected. Your co-workers won't be happy if your project is late but your online statuses are always up to date, and your boss eventually will want to have a word with you if your social media usage starts to affect your performance.</p> <p>One of the biggest ways to reveal your lack of engagement is to be active on social media but not active in meetings, via email, and in general interactions with colleagues,&quot; says career coach Jane Scudder. &quot;The way to avoid this? Of course, number one is to be more engaged within your role. Another is to limit your social media presence during work hours.&quot;</p> <p>If you're a slave to social media at work, take measures to reduce how much time you spend on it by shutting off your phone or placing it in a place that's not readily accessible (like a drawer or cabinet), manually block the sites you know you're prone to visit, or schedule social media time to get your fix, but limit it to only a few minutes or just on your lunch break.</p> <h2>4. Enjoying Extended Lunch Breaks</h2> <p>Speaking of lunch breaks&hellip; if you're taking leisurely lunches &ndash; 35 or 40 minutes instead of the allotted half-hour or more than an hour if you have that luxury &ndash; it's time to reel it in. Just like arriving late and leaving early, self-extending your lunch break is not only unethical and rude, but it's also akin to stealing money from your employer because you're still stuffing your face with your sandwich instead of manning your position at your desk and fulfilling that day's duties for which you're being paid.</p> <p>While this habit is noticeable if you leave the office for lunch &ndash; because at least one of your coworkers is totally clocking you &ndash; it's much easier to take extra time for yourself if you prefer to eat at your desk. It's not always a problem, of course, but if your work pace is affected and your coworkers have noticed, it's time to assess the situation and reevaluate your lunch strategy.</p> <h2>5. Slowing Down Operations With Non-Workplace Issues</h2> <p>Office camaraderie is important to a productive and motivated workspace &ndash; you don't have to be friends with your co-workers, but you should get along &ndash; so engaging in non-work banter can be beneficial to day-to-day operations. If you're commandeering the conversation, however, and sucking up valuable work time with outside issues that hold everyone else up &ndash; like relationship drama, sappy kid stories, or questionable tales of your weekend activity &ndash; you're weaving a web of negativity that will affect everyone around you. To stay on everyone's good side, limit your banter and anecdotes of home life to times when everyone can kick back and relax for a few minutes, contribute, and enjoy the conversation.</p> <h2>6. Delegating the Lion's Share of Work to Subordinates</h2> <p>If you're in a position of authority, it's critical to toe the line carefully in order to excel at your job, gain and maintain the respect of your colleagues, and set yourself up for promotion. You'll need to delegate some of the work, of course (that's in your job description), but if you're delegating so much of the work that your minions are doing the lion's share of it while you sit back and watch, you run the risk of running yourself right out the door. Just because you're in a boss-type position doesn't mean you get to be bossy. Delegate responsibilities fairly, and avoid establishing a trap that befalls many professionals who dole out orders &ndash; becoming a tyrant who thinks they're above the grunt work. Unless you own the company, you're still on somebody's payroll, and you need to fulfill your duties at or (ideally) above expectations if you'd like to be seen as a good leader and, you know, remain employed.</p> <p><em>Are there other signs of underperformance that you'd like to add? Do you have a co-worker who's not pulling his or her weight? Let's talk about it in the comments below.</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-reasons-your-coworkers-think-youre-a-slacker&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Reasons%2520Your%2520Coworkers%2520Think%2520Youre%2520a%2520Slacker.jpg&amp;description=6%20Reasons%20Your%20Coworkers%20Think%20Youre%20a%20Slacker"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Reasons%20Your%20Coworkers%20Think%20Youre%20a%20Slacker.jpg" alt="6 Reasons Your Coworkers Think You're a Slacker" width="250" height="374" /></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-coworkers-think-youre-a-slacker">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance">The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-awkward-money-moments-everyone-has-at-work">8 Awkward Money Moments Everyone Has at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-stay-motivated-on-the-job">6 Ways to Stay Motivated on the Job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-ahead-at-work-are-you-a-hammer-or-a-swiss-army-knife">Getting Ahead At Work: Are You A Hammer Or A Swiss Army Knife?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wanna-put-away-some-cash-take-a-vacation">Wanna Put Away Some Cash? Take A Vacation!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Productivity coworkers job performance slacker work work performance Tue, 20 Oct 2015 09:15:27 +0000 Mikey Rox 1593787 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2631534424_6c8ecd0c66_z.jpg" alt="outdoor meeting" title="outdoor meeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="193" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On the New River Trail in Virginia, a business owner taught me a valuable lesson on ways to improve performance.</p> <p>After renting bikes from an employee at her shop, we experienced gearing problems that worsened as we traveled. During a notable struggle, a couple stopped and asked if we were OK. I referenced the mechanical difficulty and the woman (who happened to be the shop owner) recognized the bike as one of her rentals, traded bikes with me, and gave me instructions on what to tell her employee when we returned.</p> <p>Had the owner been inside all day, she would not have seen the gap between the ideal experience and the actual one. Getting out of the office is one way to learn what is happening in the field and quickly solve problems.</p> <p>I am sure you have had similar experiences, noticing actions others could take to improve their performance, whether they own a business or work for an employer.</p> <p>When you are in the midst of day-to-day busyness and occasional work-related chaos, the path to better results may not be immediately obvious.</p> <p>Time spent talking with people about their jobs, dealing with those who struggle, learning from those who excel, and adjusting habits myself have taught me a few ways to improve on-the-job performance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stupid-reasons-why-people-make-more-money" target="_blank">Stupid Reasons Why People Make More Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Get Out of the Office</h2> <p>If you want to improve your performance, you must see what your employees are doing and how customers are using your products, at least occasionally. Get out of your office and travel to the sales, distribution, or production floor, wherever your people are. Observe how sales and service employees interact with customers, distribution folks organize inventory and fill orders, or production team members set up machines and check quality. And talk with people, employees and customers alike, to allow them to share their perspectives (whether you agree or not).</p> <p>You&rsquo;ll likely discover a few discrepancies between what you expected and what is really happening. Drawing on these observations and conversations, tweak or restyle the environment, workflow, procedures, systems, etc. to assure that you and your employees are able to meet and exceed performance targets.</p> <h2>2. Learn Why, Not Just What and How</h2> <p>Understanding your purpose within the broader context of the company&rsquo;s mission can help you make better decisions faster. When you grasp how your job affects your employer&rsquo;s ability to serve customers, for example, you can act more intentionally and less robotically when quirky requests arise.</p> <p>You definitely need to master the content of your job description first. Otherwise, you&rsquo;ll seem like a lazy, sloppy worker who touts that she gets the &quot;big picture&quot; but can&rsquo;t handle basic duties. But knowing the overarching strategy of your company, team, and job function can help you navigate complicated issues and show others that you are capable of higher level responsibilities.</p> <h2>3. Run a Better Meeting</h2> <p>Conduct meetings that propel you forward, instead of keep you struggling with the same tired predicaments. To get there, you&rsquo;ll need to move beyond the good but incomplete guidance to prepare and stick with an agenda for an effective meeting.</p> <p>Consider adding these requirements to your meeting game plan:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Determine what you want to accomplish in the meeting (this step may involve putting together a proposal ahead of time so that you don&rsquo;t simply toss around ideas in the meeting)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Figure out whether you can reach your goals through an email or a face-to-face session with just one or two individuals (and cancel the meeting if you don't really need one)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Provide an agenda along with proposals and status updates before the meeting, and let everyone know what decisions are to be made so that participants can prepare for the session<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ask for feedback and deal with concerns prior to the meeting, if possible, making sure that discussions are transparent and all who should be involved are part of important decisions<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start the meeting on time and move through key points, allowing plenty of discussion but preventing side issues from dominating the conversation<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take immediate action on decisions made at the meeting.</li> </ul> <p>For more discussion on how to run a better meeting, read the book &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936719169/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1936719169&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">Read This Before Your Next Meeting</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Automate One Aspect of Your Work</h2> <p>Get more done faster by automating a routine activity. For example, <a href="http://michaelhyatt.com/using-email-templates-to-say-%E2%80%9Cno%E2%80%9D-with-grace.html" target="_blank">create an email template for certain types of inquiries</a>, build a knowledge base that your staff can reference for routine situations, or create an Excel spreadsheet to handle certain types of calculations.</p> <p>Naturally, your efficiency will increase when handling these matters. But more importantly, because you are not using brainpower on mundane tasks, you will be able to tackle more challenging assignments.</p> <h2>5. Learn When to Sprint</h2> <p>Discern when you need to sprint (<a href="http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/02/sprint.html" target="_blank">go all out, for a short period of time</a>), instead of pacing yourself steadily for a long race. There are moments when you need to make quick decisions, days that you should go the extra mile, weeks when you need to accelerate your thoughts and actions to beat a deadline, and high-volume seasons when you must work extra hours.</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t go hard all the time. A consistently tired, burned-out employee doesn&rsquo;t perform well.</p> <p>But there are times when you need to apply extra, concentrated effort. Your boss may tell you outright when you are expected to stay late, your colleagues or customers might hint at their needs, or you may recognize situations that could benefit from intense focus. Being able to manage those short bursts and keep them from becoming routine can help you to improve performance at all times.</p> <h2>6. Learn More About Technology</h2> <p>No matter how adept you are at using technology, you can broaden your capabilities. Some knowledge can be put to use immediately for better results. For example, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-useful-things-you-can-do-in-15-minutes-or-less" target="_blank">you might take 15 minutes to learn how to use an online survey tool</a>, and another few minutes to design and send a survey to a group of customers.</p> <p>But even if you have no urgent need, becoming more skilled in tools you already use or getting familiar with new applications can guide long range planning or prompt ideas about ways to harness technology for a long standing issue.</p> <h2>7. Learn to Upsell</h2> <p>Whatever your take on corporate mandates to encourage add-on sales (that is, asking if the customer wants fries with the burger or an extended warranty for the electronics purchase) or push a higher priced product when the basic one seems fine, <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-up-sell-without-even-trying/" target="_blank">you can learn to upsell</a> while building great relationships with customers.</p> <p>The highest performing salespeople tend to have a talent for interacting with people and the ability to pinpoint customer needs (and wants). If you&rsquo;ve been struggling with canned pitches that seem to disregard customer relationships and don&rsquo;t deliver results, consider doing the following:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Learn and show that you know as much as possible about your company&rsquo;s products and services, marketing position, differentiating features, and real world applications compared to competitive offerings and substitutes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Gain expertise in how customers use products and services in various scenarios (whether these are manufacturer approved uses or not).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Listen to customers without making assumptions and ask probing questions about their requirements or anticipated usage, preferences, and expectations.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Make a recommendation in a non-pressured way that allows the customer to affirm (and buy!) your selection or give you more information about concerns, needs, etc. so that you can formulate even better advice.</li> </ul> <p>Most people appreciate a tailored approach that clues them into why certain items could be beneficial and why certain features cost more, instead of being offered products indiscriminately.</p> <h2>8. Clean Up Your Space</h2> <p>Einstein&rsquo;s take on a cluttered work space (&quot;If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?&quot;) may <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/talking-trash-is-your-messy-mind-the-cause-of-your-messy-house" target="_blank">inspire you to leave a mess in your office</a>. But you may not be as efficient as you think, even if you know which pile contains what pieces of information. There&rsquo;s a psychic cost to having random stuff around, which may include fear that you&rsquo;ve forgotten something or missed an important deadline.</p> <p>Even if you have high productivity with a messy space, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/03/27/the-dangers-of-a-messy-desk/" target="_blank">most of your coworkers will still consider you unorganized or even lazy</a>. Generally, you&rsquo;ll need their cooperation with small matters and collaboration on major projects, so decluttering can improve internal relationships and win the support needed to achieve performance targets.</p> <h2>9. Improve Your Professional Capabilities</h2> <p>Keep learning.</p> <p>Read books, take classes, participate in industry events, earn certifications, etc. Even if the latest research tells you things you already know, you&rsquo;ll be able expertly articulate your position and increase your credibility among peers, leading to better communication and results. And, even if you disagree with the latest management or leadership techniques, knowing what people are talking about when they mention &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy" target="_blank">blue ocean strategies</a>&quot;&nbsp;or tell women to &quot;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/geristengel/2013/03/27/for-women-to-lean-in-redesign-the-workplace/" target="_blank">lean in</a>&quot;&nbsp;is useful.</p> <p>More significantly, however, you may learn something new that you can apply to improving performance immediately.</p> <h2>10. Explain Obstacles to Your Boss</h2> <p>Let your boss know about insurmountable obstacles. Just be sure that you&rsquo;ve done your research, experimented with different methods to overcome these challenges, and pinpointed underlying problems. And, ideally, when you talk about obstacles, present a proposal with a solution and the resources required for implementation.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a line between communicating roadblocks and shirking your job duties because of everyday difficulties. So, when you voice concerns, be sure to display innovative thinking and not tired exasperation. If your boss is reasonable and you&rsquo;re willing to try a fresh approach, you may be able to put an end to pervasive problems and achieve unprecedented outcomes.</p> <h2>11. Close the Feedback Loop</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve gotten even a smidgen of negative feedback in the last several months, check to see whether you&rsquo;ve successfully made changes envisioned by your boss or customers. You may have quickly made adjustments that led to obviously superior results. But you could have misinterpreted comments and fixed unrelated issues. Or, you may have dismissed concerns as fleeting grumpiness whereas your boss considered them clearly defined needs for improvement or your customers thought of them as deal-breakers if left unfixed.</p> <p>Whatever you did after receiving feedback, starting this conversation should help improve your performance. You may discover that adjustments have been well received and your boss or key customer appreciates your initiative, leading to greater connection that helps you work more effectively. And, well, if you totally missed the meaning of the feedback, it&rsquo;s better to find out now, instead of during an annual review or customer meeting.</p> <h2>12. Revisit Performance Objectives</h2> <p>Look at performance goals to refresh your memory, refocus your efforts, and reenergize your resolve to make things happen according to plan. Annual objectives are often developed using ideal circumstances as the norm. But as the year progresses, priorities shift, crises erupt, budgets get slashed, etc. So, even if you think you are doing all that your company requires based on immediate feedback, you should still revisit those documented goals.</p> <p>You could discover that the work habits you formed &mdash; when dealing with temporary setbacks, for example &mdash; have prevented you from meeting performance standards. You might notice that you were supposed to complete a couple of one-off tasks, like attend a professional seminar or develop a short list of alternate vendors for a routine purchase. You may recall that your boss put a high priority on a project, which seems to have stalled since then.</p> <p>Take action to adjust your routine to meet and exceed those standards, get those small but important chores completed, or raise the urgency of the project with your boss.</p> <p>The vision of the business owner I encountered on the bike trail was surely for patrons to enjoy a carefree ride, not struggle with broken equipment. She wasn't perfect, but she made things right as quickly as she noticed a mistake. Like her, pay attention to what's happening around you, and you'll likely find ways to improve your performance at work.</p> <p><em>What have you done to improve your performance at work?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F12%20Ways%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Performance%20at%20Work%20(1).jpg&amp;description=12%20Ways%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Performance%20at%20Work" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/12%20Ways%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Performance%20at%20Work%20%281%29.jpg" alt="12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks">Ace Your Next Performance Review With These 7 Tricks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance">The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree-to-succeed">Why You Don&#039;t Need a College Degree to Succeed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-finally-get-that-promotion-this-year">12 Ways to Finally Get That Promotion This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-ace-your-next-performance-review">7 Ways to Ace Your Next Performance Review</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building business education career advancement performance review work performance Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:24:41 +0000 Julie Rains 971614 at http://www.wisebread.com