Your Work Performance – Boost it to the Next Level

It's always the right time to look at ways to boost your work performance, so that your boss and colleagues wonder how they ever coped without you!

By Mary Schaefer

Whether you are new to your job or a veteran, it's always the right time to look at ways to boost your work performance, so that your boss and colleagues wonder how they ever coped without you!

1. Nail down the fundamentals

Whether you are new to your job or have been in the chaos for a long time, you might find yourself wondering at times, what's important and what's not?! If you are feeling overwhelmed, or like you are never going to catch-on, take a moment to regroup. It's imperative to take some time to get clear on the measure for what is expected of your position. Only then can you make realistic choices about how you are going to enhance your performance in a way that works for both you and your employer.

  • Know what success looks like for your position - ask your boss and others you trust, and then deliver on what's expected!
  • Clean up your own mess. Know when to notify your boss and when to ask for help. Being a hero doesn't always work out in your favour.

2. Make your relationship with your boss work FOR YOU

Whether we have a boss we think we can work with or not, it is worthwhile to consider how to make the best of it. After all, despite the fact that you might not like or even respect your boss, your boss's opinion matters – and has a significant impact on your earnings, your enjoyment of your work, and your future employment.

As you look at the list below, you may find yourself resisting some of the points. Before you totally reject any of them, consider what you might learn by discovering where your boss stands. Some key points to get clear on when navigating this working relationship include:

  • Know what your boss views as success for your position.
  • Get agreement on your work objectives and how they will be measured.
  • Identify what your boss thinks you should already know.
  • Know your boss's hot buttons, what she/he always looks for, what she/he never asks about.
  • Put any proposal or concern in terms that influence your boss to buy your point of view; in other words, make clear what is it in for them/the company.
  • Just because you do get your boss's opinion on any of these items it doesn't mean you have to agree. At least you now know what you are dealing with though. You may not like the conclusions you come to (new job? new company?), but knowledge IS power and you will be making more informed choices.

3. Distinguish yourself

This may sound extremely obvious, but just in case - People like to work with people who are helpful and low-maintenance. By following some simple rules, you will get things done more quickly and smoothly than you ever thought possible. You can become the person who your management and colleagues know they can count on to get things done, on time and well, without requiring them to give it another thought. And even if you do make a slip, you can maintain and even build others' respect for you (and desire to be cooperative), by making things right, quietly and without drama. CAUTION: I'm not suggesting you be a fake or a doormat.

As you plan for upgrading your behaviour and work performance in this area, consider these "rules":

  • Don't complain about the non-negotiable; for example, if you don't like the rule about submitting travel expense reports within 10 days, comply or work to change that, but don't only complain.
  • Don't make people come after you about perfunctory requirements, such as completing travel expense reports or taking your turn in running the staff meeting.
  • Quietly volunteer to do conventionally unattractive tasks, e.g. organising a safety meeting, presenting work environment training, etc.
  • Make your boss's and your colleagues jobs easier at every chance you get.
  • Improve your chances of others cooperating with what you need from them by sending gracious reminders, such as, "I know you probably have a lot on your plate, and I'll need that data by the end of the day…" or by offering streamlined and understandable instructions to get the task done.


Yes, these points may seem like common sense but, as we all know, analysing our behaviour objectively and changing it is easier said than done. If you want to give your work performance a boost, and give yourself an edge, there are several resources that you can turn to. I recommend you:

  • Improve your emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ). I believe this is what will distinguish truly valuable work performance from "so-what", expendable performance in the future. I think it is what distinguishes it now, but not many are acknowledging it yet…(See books by Daniel Goleman.)
  • Seek out development and training opportunities in your workplace – take all the opportunities you can to get to know your strengths, inclinations and foibles better. Also take opportunities that allow you to learn how to get along with the broadest variety of people as possible. (Tip: don't become a development junkie at the expense of keeping your work performance high.)
  • And finally (you knew this was coming), get a coach. This involves seeking a partner in improving your work performance and your career prospects - a partner who has invested in only you and has no other agenda, which a boss, mentor or colleague may have. A coach can help you go deeper into any of the ideas listed above, and strategise about how to make them work for you.

Mary Schaefer is President and Lead Consultant for Artemis Path, LLC. She holds a master's degree in Human Resources Management and is certified as an HR Professional (PHR). Mary's 20 years of experience in industry, most recently as an HR manager, allows her to effectively coach you – whether you are a manager, small business owner or employee – on how to get along better at work!

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