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20 areas of improvement examples every manager should know

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No matter how proficient we may be at our job, we can always find ways to be better. But to do that, we have to first become aware of our strengths and weaknesses. Then, actively work to improve in areas relevant to our job goals. This will not only help you excel in your role as a manager but will also increase the value of your direct reports.

Why is professional improvement important?

Professional development is essential to constantly improve and learn new skills. This makes you and your employees more likely to succeed and advance in your careers. Managers can support their team through:

Workers are more likely to be engaged and happy at work when managers push for professional and personal development. Performance evaluations can assist in identifying areas for improvement. This allows for professional growth. Improving professional skills makes people more valuable to the company.

Table of contents
Why is professional improvement important?
20 areas of improvement examples that you may have overlooked
How to identify your areas for improvement

20 areas of improvement examples that you may have overlooked

Are you a manager doing performance reviews? Or an employee working on your own professional development? Here are some examples of opportunities for improvement that can help you.

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 autonomously. 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 a 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?
  • Do they appreciate constructive feedback?

3. Ambition

Ambitious workers show that they have drive. They want to improve themselves and help the company do well. An employee with ambition aspires to be better than they are now.

Here are 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 involves making the most of your time at work. This can be achieved by planning tasks, setting priorities, and setting goals. Effective time management requires applying certain principles and tactics. These concepts and approaches can assist individuals in developing time management skills.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does the employee set realistic deadlines?
  • Can they stick to a schedule?
  • 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 work on their ability to lead and influence others. Developing leadership skills can lead to career advancement and success in any organization.

Here are 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?
  • Do they have a clear idea of their career journey?

6. Delegation

Delegation refers to assigning tasks to someone else. Especially if the other person is better suited for the task. Strong communication skills are important when delegating work. Make sure that tasks are clear, done right, and done quickly. Delegating also helps a team build trust and work together.

Here are 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?
  • Do they delegate tasks effectively, or do they tend to micromanage?

  • Do they follow up with those they've given tasks to and see how things are going?

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. There are a variety of communication tools that can enhance an employee's skills in this area.

Here are 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 company hires many people, each with a key skill set and role. However, for the company as a whole to succeed, each employee must work together. Every employee must have excellent communication skills to get the best result possible.

Here are 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 skills are essential. You want employees to make good decisions regardless of their decision-making style.

Here are 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 trust their decision-making, or do they second-guess themselves?
  • Do they make decisions that are aligned with the company’s mission and values?

10. Goal setting and achievement

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

Here are 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

Empathy is a sought-after "soft skill” for good reason. One benefit is that it can improve your retention rates. There's no such thing as a perfect employee. Empathy is a critical skill for managers too. Showing empathy will make people feel valued.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee try to understand the other person’s point of view?
  • Do they have the emotional intelligence to recognize their own and others' feelings?
  • Do they respond with compassion, or do they immediately criticize?
  • Do they have active listening skills?

12. Creativity

Creativity refers to the novel ways your employee finds to carry out a project or solve a problem. Creativity helps every company stand out and enhances customer service skills.

Here are 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. You need to make sure they have the knowledge to do the individual tasks listed in their job description.

Here are 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 on new developments and trends in their industry?
  • Do they reach out for help if they lack resources?

14. Productivity

Productivity refers to the amount of work done and how well an employee uses their time.

Here are 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 may be very productive in the sense that they make a lot of something, but what they make may not be very good.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee hold their work to a high standard of excellence?
  • How well does the employee follow guidelines, procedures, and standards for their work?
  • Do they pay close attention to detail?
  • Do they produce minimal errors and defects?
  • Does the employee keep up with the latest news and best practices in their field?
  • 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. It is an essential skill for any employee to have.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does this employee follow through on their promises?
  • How well does this employee manage their workload?
  • 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?
  • How well does the employee manage their personal life and work-life balance?

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.

Here are 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?
  • How well do they embrace new challenges and opportunities?
  • How well does the employee learn from their mistakes and failures?

18. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills allow you to interact with others through words and body language. These skills also allow individuals to build relationships with others. They affect how well people work with others in a team setting. Great interpersonal skills are demonstrated through words and positive body language.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does the employee practice active listening in the workplace?
  • Do they show empathy towards colleagues and clients?
  • Do they make eye contact during meetings and conversations?
  • How well does the employee adapt the way they talk to different people?
  • Do they use body language and facial expressions to clarify their message?

19. Organization

Strong organizational skills are essential for maximizing workplace productivity and efficiency. Many techniques can aid in organization. Organization skills include the ALPEN method, making lists, scheduling tasks, and Trello boards. Learning to be organized can set employees up for success and help the team as a whole work better.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How well does the employee manage their time?
  • How well does the employee stay on top of their tasks and responsibilities?
  • How well does the employee plan and prepare for meetings and other events?
  • Do they use any tools or systems to stay organized?
  • How do they keep track of deadlines and ensure they’re met?
  • How well does the employee handle multiple tasks and projects at once?

20. Problem-solving

To solve a problem well, you have to look at the situation, think about your options, and choose the best one. These skills help you handle challenging situations and find creative solutions. Strong problem-solving skills can be very helpful at work. These traits are important for the growth and success of an organization.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do employees actively seek out solutions to problems they encounter at work?
  • Do they take a systematic approach to problem-solving?
  • Do they involve others in the problem-solving process?
  • Do they look at problems and think about how to solve them in more than one way?
  • Does the employee follow through on their chosen solutions and track their effectiveness?

How to identify your areas for improvement

If you found some areas of improvement examples that you can relate to—that’s not a bad thing! Every employee and manager should strive for improvement. 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 receive a detailed report on your personal motivations, which can help you advance. You can also create a team and identify motivations and blind spots for each of your team members.

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