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17 areas of improvement examples every manager should know

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No matter how proficient, or even excellent, we may be at our jobs, we can always find ways to be better. But to do that, we have to first become aware of the areas of improvement that deserve our attention.

Whether you’re a manager conducting performance reviews or an employee working on your own professional development, here are some areas of improvement examples that can assist you in the process.

Table of contents

17 areas of improvement examples that you may have overlooked

1. Integrity

Integrity involves being honest and upholding strong ethics and morals. It’s an essential component of building trust. Without integrity, even the most capable and talented employee can undermine your organization.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee have a clear understanding of right and wrong?
  • Do they always tell the truth?
  • Do they avoid conflicts of interest?
  • Do they uphold the company’s values?
  • Do they follow through on promises?
  • Do they give credit where credit is due?

2. Initiative

Initiative refers to a person’s ability to take action without goading. A person with initiative steps forward to get the job done, even when no one asks them to.

Some questions to ask:

  • When this employee spots a problem to solve or task that needs to be done, do they take action independently?
  • Do they ask others to do something before volunteering to do it themselves?
  • Do they have confidence in their ability to complete the task, or do they seem uneasy?

3. Ambition

Ambition shows that an employee is highly driven and wants to improve themselves and the company. An employee with ambition aspires to be better than they are now.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee have aspirations to go beyond their current role, or are they coasting by?
  • Do they seek out new opportunities and learning experiences?
  • Do they ask for more challenging tasks and projects?
  • Do they go above the bare minimum?

4. Time management

Time management is the ability to optimize time at work by planning tasks and setting proper priorities and expectations.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does the employee set realistic deadlines?
  • Do they meet these deadlines?
  • Do they plan out their day?
  • Do they prioritize their tasks effectively?
  • Do they know when to stop working on a project, or do they keep going at the expense of other priorities?

5. Leadership

Contrary to popular belief, leadership isn’t just for managers and executives. Every team member should be working on their ability to lead and influence others.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee set a good example for their coworkers?
  • Do they show initiative?
  • Are they transparent about their processes and decisions?
  • Do they invest time in helping and mentoring others?

6. Delegation

Delegation refers to assigning tasks to someone else, especially if the other person is better suited for the task. It’s essential for time management and productivity because it prevents the employee from wasting time. 

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee ask for help when they’re overwhelmed, or do they try to do everything on their own?
  • Do they assign tasks appropriately to others who are better suited for them?
  • Do they explain tasks thoroughly and in an easy-to-understand manner?

7. Communication

Effective communication is a highly sought-after skill. It’s crucial to evaluate how well your employee relays and receives information at work.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee listen well to others?
  • Do they seek first to understand?
  • Do they speak openly about their needs?
  • Do they address issues and conflicts promptly?
  • Do they have effective writing and speaking skills? 

8. Teamwork and collaboration

Your organization employs multiple people, each with a specific skill set and role, but as a whole, each team member must work together for the company to succeed. Every employee needs to be able to cooperate with others and use each person’s strengths to create the best possible result.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee cooperate with team members?
  • Do they seek out coworkers for their expertise?
  • Do they try to build relationships with team members, or do they always keep to themselves?
  • Do they go out of their way to include all relevant parties, or do they exclude certain people?

9. Decision making

No matter the role, decision making is going to be an essential part of any job. Regardless of the employee’s specific decision-making style, ultimately, you want them to show the ability to make sound decisions that benefit the organization.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee make sound decisions?
  • Do they have an established decision-making process?
  • Are they transparent about how they arrived at a decision?
  • Do they make a choice in a timely manner, or is it a long and drawn-out ordeal?
  • Do they display confidence in their decision-making abilities, or are they frequently second-guessing themselves?
  • Do they make decisions that are aligned with the company’s mission and values?

10. Goal setting and achievement

Without goals, employees will grow aimless and stagnant. Setting and achieving goals is essential to professional development.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee set realistic and measurable goals for themselves?
  • Do they strive to achieve them?
  • Do they seek out the resources they’ll need to reach their goals?
  • Do they set a deadline by which to achieve these goals?
  • Are these goals also beneficial to the company?

11. Empathy

Don’t underestimate this “soft skill”—empathy is quickly becoming a highly sought-after skill in the workplace, and for a good reason! One benefit is that it can improve your retention rates. Ninety-three percent of employees surveyed for Businessolver’s 2019 State of Workplace Empathy Study said they are “more likely to stay with an empathetic employer.”

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee try to understand the other person’s point of view?
  • Do they possess the emotional intelligence to identify the feelings within themselves and others?
  • Do they respond with compassion, or do they immediately criticize?

12. Creativity

Every organization relies on creativity to stand out from the competition and help customers. Creativity refers to the novel ways your employee finds to carry out a project or solve a problem.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee try to find new ways to solve a problem, or do they stick to old ways?
  • Do they suggest ideas during meetings?
  • Do they have a strong vision for their work?
  • Are they imaginative during the brainstorming process?

13. Job knowledge

You hired this employee for a specific role, so of course, you must ensure they display the knowledge to fulfill the duties stated in their job description.

Some questions to ask:

  • Is this employee aware of the expectations and duties relevant to their job?
  • Do they display the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill these duties?
  • Are they aware of their own shortcomings in job knowledge?
  • Do they attempt to stay up-to-date in new developments and trends in their industry?

14. Productivity

Productivity refers to the quantity of work performed, as well as the degree to which the employee’s time is optimized.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee fulfill expectations and/or quotas for their role?
  • Do they remain focused on their work?
  • Do they maximize the tools and resources available to them?
  • Do they try to accomplish tasks using the most efficient method?

15. Quality of work

Quality of work assesses the accuracy and excellence of what someone produces. An employee might be extremely productive, as in, they deliver a large quantity of something, but the quality of what they produce may be lacking.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee hold their work to a high standard of excellence?
  • Do they pay close attention to detail?
  • Do they produce minimal errors and defects?
  • Are their team members and managers satisfied with their work?

16. Dependability

Dependability means you can rely on your employee to do what they say they’ll do.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee follow through on their promises?
  • Do they show up to work and meetings on time?
  • Do they hold themselves accountable to their commitments?
  • Do their coworkers believe they can rely on them?

17. Adaptability

While every job comes with a description, every role can expand into new areas at times. This is especially true for startups, where things change quickly. For that reason, employees must be flexible.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee remain calm and flexible in the face of unexpected change?
  • Are they willing to learn as they go?
  • Do they adjust to changing circumstances with relative ease?
  • Do they approach a change in plans with an open mind?

Which of these areas of improvement examples spoke to you the most?

If you found some areas of improvement examples that you can relate to—that’s not a bad thing! Every employee should be striving for improvement, and becoming aware of blind spots is the first step to reaching your full potential.

If you’d like extra help identifying both strengths and weaknesses, sign up for F4S for free. You’ll get detailed reports on every employee’s workplace motivations to guide their professional development.

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