Ideas for Upgrading Skills and Performance at Work

Improve Performance at WorkPoor performance at work is generally connected to lack of formal job training. According to Forbes, over 70 percent of on the job training occurs informally. While this is beneficial, more formal training ideas and opportunities are needed for improving employee’s skills and work performance levels.


I strongly believe that proper staff motivation is necessary for skills improvement. Management can encourage employees to strive for excellence and take ownership of their position. Providing opportunities for advancement will challenge employees to continue to grow and take on more responsibilities. Management can also use annual performance reviews and other formal one-on-one meetings to provide honest and constructive performance feedback. Job rotation and cross-training are some of the best ways to naturally allow employees to expand their skills.


Cross-training is one of the least utilized skill training methods at work. In many companies, management often claims that scheduling difficulties, limited budgets and lack of manpower are the reasons why cross-training is unfeasible. However, cross-training is critical to developing employee skills, reducing turnover and increasing workforce flexibility. Encourage employees to learn about different job positions. Allow them to periodically train with an experienced mentor. If there is a job opening, consider hiring a cross-trained employee. Doing so will formally recognize and reward employees who have made the effort to expand their skills.


As mentioned above, over 70 percent of training informally takes place between employees. While this is important for relationship building, I have found that it also creates certain skill problems. That is, every employee is trained differently, with sometimes radically different approaches to standard tasks and processes. Therefore, consider creating standard work procedures for every position. This will increase quality, reduce mistakes and help employees improve their performance. Work standard forms are useful for reviewing the employee’s performance and providing objective feedback to employees.

Special Projects

A great way to allow employees to explore different aspects of the company and associated job positions are through special projects. Employee goals are typically included in career development plans and performance reviews. I encourage my employees to take on self-initiated projects or assignments. For example, this could involve taking a college class to improve job skills, joining the safety committee or participating in the company’s leadership training program. Empowering employees to choose their own projects will motivate them to learn more and strive for excellence.

On-Site Training

Bringing in a third-party to educate employees is an excellent way to improve their skills and raise their performance levels. Many community colleges and private education organizations offer both hands on and online job training. Because these formal classes can be expensive, there are informal and inexpensive options. That is, consider having an experienced employee or manager create their own curriculum and class for employees. For example, have an experienced maintenance professional give a class on machine troubleshooting and preventative maintenance for machine operators. Another idea is to have the HR manager provide legal and HR training to new supervisors.

To summarize, employee skills and performance can be improved through proper motivation, cross-training and work standardization. In addition to this, special projects and on-site training will provide excellent learning opportunities.

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