5 Proven Strategies to Maximize Employee Performance

5 Proven Strategies to Maximize Employee Performance

Are you getting the return you expect on each of the employees you hire or are many falling short of what you perceive is their potential? Few managers can maximize each employee’s potential without understanding what really works to motivate people in a professional work setting.

Fortunately, you can begin to implement proven, easy motivational strategies today and see an impact by next week.

Five Strategies to Maximize Performance

Motivate employees individually

Everyone responds differently to the same forms of motivation, so custom-tailor your strategies to the individuals on your team for optimal effect. This requires you to learn what makes each employee tick. For some, it may be recognition or opportunities to develop new skills, and for others, it may be financial incentives. To be equitable and fair, avail all of the incentives you choose to everyone on your team, but when you speak with them individually, talk about their progress toward the rewards that motivate them most.

Though it takes more time to meet with employees individually, the investment can produce returns in more ways than one. Use this time to develop closer relationships, make employees feel that their talents and years of service are valued, and understand what each employee needs to succeed and stay with your company. Remember, 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. Even a simple “thanks” goes a long way.

Set short-term goals

Do your employees have annual or quarterly goals they have to meet to earn bonuses? While these can be somewhat effective, it’s too easy for them to lose sight of the long-term vision. To-do lists and fires to put out distract them from the big picture.

Give your employees a sense of purpose every hour and every day by setting smaller weekly goals with more immediate rewards. For example, if you have an annual sales goal, divide it by 52 for a weekly goal and offer an afternoon off or a $50 Starbucks card to salespeople that achieve it. A recent survey shows that 90% of employees who work in organizations with effective rewards programs said that “my work makes a difference.”

When employees meet their goals, recognize their achievements in a group meeting and by email or through other formalized channels. It has been shown time and again in corporate surveys that most professionals value recognition, and many value it more than financial compensation. Companies with employee recognition programs have a 31% lower voluntary turnover.

Short-term goals and rewards keep employees performing at capacity, and enjoying their work, knowing they have something to look forward to in the immediate future.


High levels of intrinsic motivation are common to the most successful professionals. These people seek out challenges and opportunities to maximize their mastery of a skill or subject. They typically have loftier goals than what managers assign them.

However, most people have a limited level of intrinsic or internal motivation, so raising their performance requires a form of extrinsic or external motivation. Influences outside of the individual that can be effectively applied in a manager-subordinate environment include points, levels, and badges. The game aims to provide rewards that are inherently valuable and correlate to something that can be enjoyed. If you use a point system to reward employees for taking online training courses, mastering software, or achieving sales goals, allow them to redeem points for PTO, gifts, and vacations.

Professional development opportunities

Professional development is highly correlated to employee retention and motivation. Companies that allocate significant professional development dollars and track, monitor, and test to see which programs produce the best results (using specific key performance indicators) often see an excellent return on investment. Empowering employees to grow in their careers keeps them motivated daily to see incremental improvement and keeps them focused on advancing toward their long-term career goals.

Whether you invest in internal training or industry association conventions and workshops, keeping employees engaged and focused on professional development will help them overcome short-term distractions, including job offers from competitors. Keep in mind the effectiveness of motivating employees individually when creating professional development opportunities.

Energy-enhancing lighting

This may be the easiest-to-implement of all strategies to keep your employees motivated and energized. Swap out the energy-sapping fluorescent lighting that is still common in many offices and workplaces. Fluorescent lighting has been proven to increase stress and sleepiness while reducing happiness and productivity. Think of it as the asbestos of our time; at some point in this next decade, expect it to become a relic. If you can replace some artificial lighting with natural lighting by opening up more window shades, you can harness the sun's energy-enhancing effects on the human body and brain. If you can’t do that, hold meetings outside when the weather cooperates.

These strategies should produce immediate results, so let us know about the results you and your team achieve by connecting with ECI on social media!

ECI Staff Contributors

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.