How to Measure and Improve Employee Performance

measure and improve employee performance

Most CEOs would say that their employees make up the foundation of their company’s success.

Sadly, according to a 2019 Mercer survey, only 2% of organizations believe they’re maintaining top-notch performance management.

Anyone who’d want to enhance every facet of their business operation must focus on employee improvement.

People Conscience co-founder Soumyasanto Sen says:

“Performance management, when handled skillfully in an organization today, can increase job satisfaction, employee retention, loyalty, and overall performance of the organization.”

What Is Employee Performance?

It’s quite easy to define employee performance. It’s anything that involves how people behave and complete their duties in the workplace.

Usually, a company establishes performance targets for individuals and the entire organization. These goals help the business provide better value to its customers, operate efficiently, and minimize waste.

Research from the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies highlights the importance of individual employee performance in a company’s growth.

The study, which surveyed managers, mentions that a person’s level of productivity and efficiency directly affects how a company will fare in an emerging market.

Their performance will also determine the trust and loyalty an organization will gain from its customers.

How to Measure Employee Performance

Whether you’re measuring ingredients in a recipe or materials in a construction project, you’re going to work with numbers.

However, when it comes to workplace performance, you need to incorporate soft intuitive insights into your hard numbers.

Here are some ways to measure and assess work performance:

1. Employee Efficiency

When an employee is efficient, they’re able to maximize their productivity with minimum expense and effort. They will rarely cause costly mistakes.

What’s more, they will meet deadlines without sacrificing the quality of work. Almost all the time, there’s no waste of time and effort.

Conducting Team Assessments for Measuring Employee Efficiency

When you’re using efficiency as a factor for measuring employee performance, you need to conduct team assessments. The results will show you whether workers are meeting goals.

The evaluation will also help you determine challenges along the way.

2. 360-Degree Feedback

Often, you can determine the performance of an employee by looking at the views of the individual and their manager.

However, you can improve the information by including feedback from others who witness the person’s performance. By incorporating views from subordinates, colleagues, and even customers, you’re collecting 360-degree feedback.

Proper Preparations for 360-Degree Feedback

When taking this approach, you’ll develop guidelines for the scheme. Ideally, you should also have the proper software to administer the forms and assessments.

There should be a fixed scale that will measure the different performance elements. Do note that this evaluation is usually based on an individual’s behavioral competencies rather than their technical skills.

Downsides of 360-Degree Feedback

While 360-degree feedback can provide comprehensive insights, it can be time-consuming. What’s more, individuals may feel that they are being attacked by their peers, especially when salary increase is linked to their performance.

Once they convince themselves that there’s some form of injustice in the workplace, relationships within the business can be damaged.

As such, it is important to manage the feedback process correctly. This way, the results will be comprehensive yet objective and fair.

3. Graphic Rating Scales

With graphic rating scales, you’re using sequential numbers to rate an individual’s performance in specific areas. Usually, these markers grade behavioral qualities like “decision-making participation” or “job understanding”. 

On the other hand, the scales can also indicate the frequency a worker exhibits a certain behavior or performs a task.

Two Question Formats

There are different ways you may want your questions to be answered. You can use either discrete scales or continuous scales—both of which feature the Likert Scale format.

Discrete Scales

There are specified responses on a discrete scale, and they are typically ranked from 1-5 or 1-3. Moreover, there’s a particular statement for each ranking. Here’s an example:

Extremely LikelyQuite UnlikelyCan’t TellQuite LikelyExtremely Likely

Continuous Scales

You will notice a slight difference in continuous scales. This scheme allows a manager to ask a question, but they will rank the individual on the scale. Two values are typically indicated at each end of the scale. Here’s an example:

Very Poor12345678810Excellent

4. SWOT Analysis

If you’ve managed a project, you’re likely familiar with SWOT analysis. Well, did you know that you can also use it to measure workplace performance? With this approach, you can identify a person’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Weaknesses may represent their areas of improvement. Meanwhile, strengths will help managers and employees identify specializations.

Moreover, they will indicate what individuals may like to develop further. This is a great way to discover if workers feel that there’s something within the company that’s hindering them from growing.

Managers can map out these areas to help employees create a development plan. 

SWOT Analysis for Work Performance: An Example

When creating the template for the SWOT analysis, you’ll need a four-square table. Label the upper-left quadrant ‘Strengths’, the upper-right ‘Weaknesses’, the lower-left ‘Opportunities’, and the lower-right ‘Threats’. Here’s how you can answer each quadrant:



• Positive qualities that are under the person’s control

These indicate what the individual is good at, including the value they provide.
• Negative qualities that are under the person’s control

These indicate areas of improvement.



• Positive external factors that are not under the person’s control

These are things that the individual can use to further their growth.

• Negative external factors that are not under the person’s control

While these things are beyond the individual’s control, they can negatively affect their performance.

These are the general topics that each quadrant may cover:



• Technical expertise

• Education

• Work experience

• Transferable skills

• Personal characteristics

• A good business network

• Limited technical knowledge

• The wrong major or limited education

• Lack of work experience

• Lack of job knowledge

• Negative personal characteristics

• Weak interpersonal skills



• Networking options

• Continuing education

• Skills applicable to other fields

• Personal development programs

• External competition

• Limited advancement in the field

• Obstacles in training and education

• Limited roles in the field

5. Self-Assessment

Asking a person to assess their work performance can also be effective. For some people, especially hard workers, personal standards can be high.

So, they may be more critical of their performance than you might be. With this option, you can compare the results of an individual’s self-evaluation with your objective appraisal.

By finding the similarities and discrepancies, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the employee’s performance.

With this approach, you’ll need to create a form with multiple-choice answers or essay-type questions. On the other hand, you can do a combination of both. Here are some questions you can ask:

Questions About Their Duties

1.  What are the challenges or responsibilities you’ve taken since your last self-assessment?

2.  What aspect of your role do you like the most?

3.  What parts of your job would you like to eliminate or change and why?

Questions About Their Performance

1.  What are your role’s primary objectives, and up to what extent do you feel you’ve achieved them?

2.  Based on your performance since last checking in with your manager, what grade would you give yourself?

3.  What tasks are you accomplishing outside your role?

Questions About Personal Development

1.  How have you grown professionally within the last assessment period?

2.  What are the professional goals you wish to achieve in the next three years?

3.  What particular skills would you like to improve within the coming assessment period?

Of course, this list is not extensive, and there are plenty of online resources you can use to develop your questions. However, they should give you an idea of how to conduct self-evaluations.

How to Improve Employee Performance and Productivity

Once you’ve completed the work performance evaluations, you must create an improvement plan. It should include actions for addressing areas of improvement. Here are three simple steps to improving employee performance and productivity:

1. Set Goals

Goals play a critical role in ensuring individual success and team alignment. Setting them allows employees to see where they want to go.

A study conducted by Dominican University professor Gail Matthews revealed that people who write their goals down are 20% more likely to succeed.

People who commit to their goals by writing them on paper are more likely to achieve their objectives. As French journalist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

However, that success involves a two-part formula. The same study by Matthews said that accountability is also necessary to ensure the achievability of goals.

Those who set actionable tasks for their goals and conduct weekly progress reporting to their peers tend to succeed 40% more.

importance of setting goals

2 Ways of Setting Professional Goals

When it comes to setting goals as an employee, you can take either the SMART or OKR approach:


SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. While this goal-setting approach has been around for decades, it is still not foolproof. Here are the pros and cons of SMART goals:

The Advantages of the SMART Approach

·    Clearly defines goals by narrowing the focus

·    Easily tracks progress and motivates employees

·    Improves work performance by setting deadlines

·    Aligns goals with the rest of the company

The Disadvantages of the SMART Approach

·   Slows down the entire goal-setting process

·   Creates fear of failure

·    Encourages goal setting instead of pursuing

2. OKR

OKR is an abbreviation for Objectives and Key Results. With this approach, you can set an overarching goal and identify action tasks for achieving it.

OKR Advantages

·    Enables company scalability and employee growth

·    Promotes agility with regular goal adjustments

·    Focuses on transparency, allowing organization alignment

·    Creates balance between aspiration and execution by connecting the “how” and “why”

OKR Disadvantages

·    Slows the adoption process due to the complicated structure

·    Requires a system that can accommodate the complex goal setting and tracking needs

·    Deters employees from aspiring big

2. Recognize Employees

People may have the motivation to meet a goal. However, they may not be able to sustain their performance if they don’t get enough recognition from their organization.

According to a 2021 Gallup survey, employees who do not receive praise or recognition for their good work are twice likely to quit their job the following year.

Best Practices for Employee Recognition

Indeed, when employees feel appreciated, they are encouraged to work harder. However, you should still make sure that it is done right. Here are some best practices to follow:

Encourage Peer Recognition

Having colleagues recognize each other can help create a healthy work culture. With the transparency that this program brings, there will be a stronger community in the workplace.

What’s more, there will be better visibility among teams and departments.

Consult Employees

If you’re serious about motivating people, you need to ask how they prefer to be recognized. According to a Gallup survey, employees favor these types of recognition:

·    Public acknowledgment or recognition via a certificate, award, or commendation

·    Private recognition from a manager, colleague, or client

·    High evaluation or review ratings

·    Bigger scope of work or promotion

·    Monetary rewards such as pay increases, cash prizes, or free trips

·    Pride in work or personal satisfaction

Reward Good Behavior

It’s only natural for organizations to focus on recognizing formal goal achievements. However, you should remember that employee behaviors are just as important in reinforcing company values. According to’s 2020 Engagement and Retention report, 92% of employees will repeat a good action if they’re recognized for it.

3. Monitor Employee Performance

According to a VoucherCloud survey, the average office worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes a day. You may do everything you can to encourage employees to do their best each day. However, most of the time, you’ll need a reliable tool to ensure that they are productive.

One of the best ways to monitor workplace performance is by using a time tracking app like Traqq. With this app, you can rest easy knowing that your employees are not loafing around. Let them install the tool and once they start the program, it will monitor activities discreetly.

Monitor Activity Levels

You can check the dashboard to see your employees’ activity levels in a percentage format. What’s more, Traqq will show you a visual representation of how active they are throughout the day. If they present high activity, the corresponding time block will be shown as green.

If they’re idle, it will reflect as a red block on the timeline. Indeed, Traqq offers a convenient way to measure employee productivity and performance.

Traqq activity levels

Monitor Performance Ethically

Even if you’re using employee monitoring software, you won’t create a hostile environment. It’s only natural for people to think that such an app will harm their privacy. However, Traqq is only designed to monitor—not spy.

Traqq may take random screenshots and video recordings, but the images and videos are intentionally blurred. The app lowers their quality to prevent sensitive details like private messages and passwords from becoming legible.

All the while, as a manager, you will still get a good idea of what an employee is doing at a given time.

FAQ About Employee Performance

Q: How to track employee performance?

Some of the ways to track work performance include conducting 360-degree feedback, self-assessments, and graphic scale reviews.

Q: How to discuss poor performance with an employee?

Prepare the performance evaluation result and schedule a one-on-one meeting with the employee. Discuss the results with the individual and let them explain their side. Collaborate with them in coming up with an action plan to fix their poor performance.

Q: How to write an employee performance review?

Review the responsibilities included in the employee’s role. Conduct a SWOT analysis on their performance and use that as a basis for identifying areas of recognition and improvement. Finally, acknowledge achievements and provide constructive criticism.

Q: How to address employee performance issues?

Have sufficient data to back up the employee’s performance issues. When conducting the one-on-one meeting, make sure that you’re factual, specific, and objective. Listen to what the person has to say and consider valid excuses. Create an action plan for improving their performance.

Q: What is the importance of employee performance?

Employee performance plays a big role in achieving the overall goals of an organization. When people are efficient, they meet deadlines, build a positive work culture, and produce quality results. Consequently, they help the company accomplish its objectives.

Q: What are the elements of employee performance?

When managing employee performance, you need to set goals, review work, and create improvement action plans.

Q: How do you handle employee performance issues?

You should prevent performance issues before they even occur. This can be done by setting clear expectations and properly discussing them with your employees. Feedback should also be regularly provided to help workers identify areas of improvement. Finally, make sure everything is documented.

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