Improving our work performance

We spend so much time at work that it makes sense that our experience is as enjoyable and stimulating as possible. If we’re positive about our jobs and enjoy the work we do, we are not only more satisfied – we become better employees. So, how exactly can we reach our peak performance at work?

Here are four simple tips to get started.

Set daily, weekly and monthly goals

Weekly and monthly goals set your direction, while daily goals are the short-term achievements that will help you reach those longer-term goals efficiently and accurately. Long-term goals don’t necessarily have to be specifically related to work projects – a goal could be to reduce our levels of job stress, to create a more ergonomic workspace or even to build confidence and skills to deliver boardroom presentations.

Breaking up long-term goals into short-term goals makes them more manageable (and therefore easier to achieve). It also means that we can celebrate quick wins along the way, which will spur on our motivation to push ourselves further and achieve long-term success. The important thing to remember when setting goals is to assign each to a realistic time frame, and to focus on the things we want to achieve, rather than the things we don’t want to happen.

Use initiative

It’s more self-satisfying to be a valuable contributor to our workplaces, rather than a bystander. If we see inefficiencies or opportunities for change and improvement, we should raise this with our colleagues. Think of CEOs and entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and the late Steve Jobs – their success comes down to seeing opportunities for innovative change, and acting upon them.

While some of our ideas might have counterarguments, it’s important to talk through ideas with others as it demonstrates passion and a willingness to step up should the opportunity present itself in the future. If that recognition leads to offers to take on different responsibilities or even a promotion, it can do wonders to boost our motivation to work harder.

Ask questions

So many of us don’t feel completely comfortable with asking too many questions at work for fear of seeming incompetent and unqualified, but asking questions whenever we need clarification is more beneficial for overall success. In fact, asking questions can actually make us look smarter – a study from Harvard Business Review says that people who ask for help and clarification are perceived to be more competent than those who don’t ask questions. Asking questions also serves the practical and more obvious purpose of information gathering – if we’re stuck on a problem it’s far more beneficial in the long run to ask the questions we need to ask as early as possible, to save us going back to potentially re-do work if it isn’t what is required or expected.

Take on all feedback

While feeling rewarded and recognised for the work we do is likely to motivate us enough to increase our performance, it’s also important to take on constructive feedback, too. Learning lessons, upskilling and working on the areas we need to improve on is all part of the journey to improving our performance, and for that we need to take on advice and feedback.

Performance appraisals with our managers is when most of us receive comprehensive feedback on the work we are doing, but don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on a more regular basis. Doing so demonstrates a constant willingness to grow and learn, and it means that we can work on enhancing our performance more immediately.

Improving our performance at work not only helps us build on our skills, it makes our work life more satisfying. The key is to take initiative and seek opportunities to ask questions and grow.

Source: This is an edited extract from ‘One step ahead: improving our work performance’, available from AFA Care and Benestar at For more information about accessing AFA Care resources available at Benestar please visit