Four Long Term Productivity Strategies: The Positive Side of Performance Improvement

“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations.”—Ralph Marston, American writer and motivational speaker.

Mention the term “performance improvement” to another office worker, especially if you’re in management or human resources, and they’re likely to fall silent or turn pale. No matter how it’s presented, most workers associate performance improvement with the “performance improvement plan,” a common method of putting workers on probation and collecting evidence against them before they’re terminated.

Fair or not, the concept of performance improvement has become connected with that sort of sting. But let’s think about it another way! Ambitious, progressive workers who are truly engaged with their work are always eager to improve performance. (← Click to Tweet) The best workers always look for some way to challenge themselves and stretch their abilities, rather than rest on their laurels.

So start inserting true personal improvement into your daily work-schedule if you haven’t already. Here are a few ways to do so.

1. Continue your education. Take a class at a community college, a weekend business school, or online institution to boost your Personal ROI and earning power. Many people have obtained an advanced degree while working during the day. An office manager earned an MBA in Finance from Phoenix University and doubled her salary by moving into a new job (a true story). Sometimes, your company will pay for your classes if they’re applicable to your job, and you maintain a high GPA.

2. Get your certifications. This one is related to the previous tip, but doesn’t require as much work. If you work in IT, for example, you might work toward Microsoft certification in various niches. Another example is accountants who take classes for continuing legal education credit for their CPA designation. Both types of certifications lend more value to the worker, resulting in greater value to both the individual and the organization.

3. Set “impossible” goals. It’s amazing what used to be considered impossible that now isn’t, such as the laptop computer to the jetliner. So set an impossible goal for yourself to strive for! What would you really rather be doing? What job would you really like to have? While your goal may be hard, require education, networking, work, and long hours, you’ll always have something to aspire to. Even if you don’t achieve your goal, pushing toward a high benchmark will improve your performance over time.

4. Set shorter deadlines. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs get where they are by pushing ahead faster than everyone else. Creative producers often give themselves very little time to get things done. They announce something to make sure they have public accountability to produce, then dive in without over-preparing. This forces them to be creative, to overcome problems ASAP, to keep moving forward, and most importantly, to organize their time effectively.
Shorter deadlines also keep you from procrastinating! I scheduled a series of seminars for this fall in Denver, so I have to work backward and start moving in order to ensure full classes. Or next time you set a short-term deadline, pull it forward a day or two and see if you can still hit it. The result may be extra time that you can use to boost other projects.

Side note: it’s important to remember that almost all deadlines are flexible when it comes down to it. When someone asks us to do something, we often assume they mean “right now”, but a lot of the time, they don’t! I’ve got a short video on the subject you can check out here: Video – Setting Deadlines.

A Step at a Time

Keep in mind that the goal here is to improve consistently over time, not to force yourself into overtime immediately. You don’t want to burn out. But as with anything worth doing, there will be a cost, so expect to give up some of your free time. One caution: Don’t skip your breaks or time off; you need them. You may, however, need to sacrifice something else, like sleeping in on the weekends or watching TV. There’s usually something in your life you can afford to give up, even if it consists of many small moments here and there that, added together, become a nice-sized time slice. Rather than let the time languish, put it to good use.

© 2017 Laura Stack.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland