Performance in the Workplace: 6 Performance Rules

“I was amazed at how productive it was to take a few minutes once a week to reflect on the performance of my employees, my company, and myself.” That was the most common observation made by participants of my 6-week survey that I conducted during October and November of last year. The overall objective of the Performance in the Workplace study was to discover what factors most influenced performance (both positively and negatively), for managers, employees, and organizations.

The full report is available for downloading at I hope that by providing these study results, more managers, employees, and organizations will work to enhance their performance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m passionate about helping people, teams, groups and companies perform better, and I know that sharing the findings of this study will help me do that.

Ultimately, there proved to be six key factors that affected performance, in order of how often they were reported and the apparent impact:

  1. Awareness – Taking a few minutes on a regular schedule to stop and think about performance – what impacts it, what’s working, and what’s not working.
  2. Feedback – Either a lack of feedback (negative) or the existence of it (positive) was evident in the performance ratings.
  3. Expectations – When participants and their employees had clear direction and knew what was expected of them, they performed better.
  4. Focus – Being focused on key issues, challenges and problems, and not getting distracted led to improved performance.
  5. Communication – When there was good communication, performance improved; when communication was restricted (for reasons ranging from being absent to having distractions get in the way), performance suffered.
  6. Organized – When participants took the time to get more organized and schedule projects, they performed better; when they didn’t, performance worsened.

Because taking a few minutes once a week to stop and reflect on one’s performance had such a powerful impact on people, I intend to tweet a message every now and then to remind followers and friends to do exactly that. Feel free to follow me on Twitter ( to get a reminder (I plan to tweet about all sorts of performance issues and topics). The awareness that comes from taking time to reflect leads to subtle but definite improvements in performance over time.

One of the exciting findings of the study was that many managers and organizations are doing things right. They’re focusing on performance and the critical things, they’re providing feedback and expectations, they’re communicating, they’re organized. And because of that, they’re getting good results. That means this can be done! Unfortunately, not all were getting the desired results.

I’ve been shouting about managers who don’t provide enough feedback and clear expectations for a long time now, and it was interesting to see these factors identified as impacting performance.

My experience has been that many managers claim to provide clear expectations to their employees, and yet the employees will tell you their expectations aren’t clear. Same with feedback – employees are almost always asking for more feedback. Most only get it when they’ve made a mistake – they only get corrective feedback. And yet people managers should provide at least four times as much confirming feedback as they do corrective feedback.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on your performance – at work, at home, in your hobby, sport, or whatever. Not just how you’re doing, but why. Then think about those around you, and whether you can use the six “Performance Rules” above to improve your performance, and that of the people around you.

There you go… Six Performance Rules that can lead to better performance in the workplace.

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