Posts Tagged ‘study’

Performance in the Workplace: 6 Performance Rules

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

“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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I Want You… For a Research Project

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I’m looking for participants for a research project I’m launching the week of October 5th. The focus is on performance in the workplace, it’s at no cost to the participants, and everyone will learn from it.

Over a six-week period, participants will be asked to spend just 5 minutes per week answering three 2-part questions. Over that time, the participants will become aware of things that positively and negatively impact the performance of themselves, their employees, and their organization. This awareness alone will help the survey participants improve performance in the workplace.

But wait, there’s more! At the end of the six-week period, I will assemble a report outlining the learnings from the survey – one part will be specific to the individual, and the other part will be a compilation of all the participants’ responses. Obviously, I will ensure the information is presented anonymously, so sensitive information will not be shared. And most importantly, I will provide recommendations on how performance can be improved in the workplace.

I also plan to bring together any of the participants who wish to gain even more insights from the study for a round-table discussion, where individuals can learn from the results and each other.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s more important than ever for employees to perform at their best. Without that, jobs, careers, and entire companies may not survive. And yet, research has shown that 77% of employees in the US do not perform at their best, and 44% admit to only doing what is required to get by in their job. That’s dangerous!

I’ve conducted some informal surveys over the past year, and have begun to discover critical information that could make or break an organization – things that lead to employees not performing at, or even near their best.

Imagine if even most of the employees in your company performed just 10% better. What impact would that have on the organization? What impact would that have on you personally?

I expect this survey to provide some keys to doing just that – to helping more individuals and teams perform better.

If you have interest in participating in the project, or know anyone else who may want to, please contact me by email or post a comment below. I am looking for variety in terms of the types of industries represented, the size of the organizations, and the types of individuals. Ideally, the participants will be business owners, C-level executives, or any level of manager (preferably, with more than 3 people reporting to him or her).

Again, if you’re interested in learning how you can improve performance in the workplace by participating in the project, please contact me by email or post a comment before October 7th.

P.S. – I’m also collecting information for a book I’m writing, and I’m hoping that some of what I learn from this project will make it in print. So, if that interests you…