Career Advice

“I Am a Low Performer at Work!” How to Switch It Up and Become a High Performer

In many companies, high-performance employees make up less than 50%, with a few companies having only 25% of high performers. This means that there are a lot of low-performing employees in the workplace. 

To be sure, we all want to be part of the top performers. But you might realize, “I am a low performer at work!” If so, don’t get discouraged. Instead, you should learn how to turn it around and become a high performer. I’m here to help you make the changes. But first…

“Am I Underperforming at Work?”

OK, let’s say that you’re not sure whether you’re underperforming at work or not. Well, here are 7 ways to figure out whether you perform well or have poor performance:

  • You’re told that you’re underperforming. If there is a positive work environment, your manager or coworker won’t hesitate to tell you the hard truth (respectfully and kindly). If they don’t, you can go over and ask them what they think of your performance. This is the best way to figure out where you stand.
  • Your team members are delivering more than you. This is another surefire way to know your current performance. A top performer always delivers more, gets recognized for their accomplishments, receives rewards, and is given priority tasks. Meanwhile, you barely deliver on your tasks. You just get by by the skin of your teeth.
  • You’re always doing the administrative tasks. If the manager used to give you important tasks but now only gives you low-priority administrative tasks, it could mean that you’re an underperformer. Why? Maybe because you didn’t perform well when you handled the important tasks. But instead of being straightforward with you, the manager just pushes you to the sideline and gives you low-priority tasks. 
  • You receive a lot of feedback. Constructive feedback is always good. However, if your manager or a team member always gives you helpful feedback, it could be a sign that you’re a bottom performer. This is their way of waking you up to realize that you must up your game to be considered a top talent. 
  • You’re extremely bored. Suppose you were on fire when you started working. 5 years passed and you find yourself extremely bored. You’re doing the same tasks over and over again, day in and day out. You wonder why you’re never given a more challenging job. This could be because you aren’t productive in your regular tasks. So why would they trust you with other tasks?
  • You’re a poor fit. If you’re always confused or unable to do the tasks, this could mean that you’re a poor performer because your skills don’t match the job description. Laura Stack, Founder and CEO of LEADERSHIP USA, INC., says, “This can happen to people who think, “I have managing experience. I can handle any managing job,” and get hired on the basis of past experience. But managing a paper mill may not make you the best manager for a drug R&D company or an environmental firm.”

Read More: 6 Morning Habits of Top Performers Worth Trying Right Now

“How Do I Change From a Low Performing Employee to a High Performing One?”

“I am a low performer at work!” Perhaps you’re getting underperforming at work anxiety. You’re embarrassed, discouraged, and confused.

Good news! Low performance is curable. There’s a chance to make things better and salvage your reputation. To do that, here are 10 tips to improve productivity and achieve above-average performance:

  1. Set performance goals
  2. Improve your skill set
  3. Show consistent effort
  4. Accept constructive criticism
  5. Look for ways to become productive
  6. Keep a positive demeanor
  7. Find a healthy work-life balance
  8. Organize your workplace
  9. Limit workplace distractions
  10. Reward yourself for a job well done

1. Set performance goals

If you value your job and want to become a top performer, you should set performance goals. Not only that, you must fulfill those goals, too. 

Now, your company probably already has professional goals that are set by performance management. You can look into these goals and do your best to fulfill them. If you do, you’ll start to pave the way to becoming a high-performing employee. 

More than that, you can also create your own performance goals. For this, you can start by doing your own performance review. See where you’re at and where you want to be. From there, you can start setting goals that you can accomplish in a day, week, or month. Remember, make it reasonable goals. 

2. Improve your skill set

If you can’t achieve the type of performance you want, it may be because you just don’t have the skills for it. Well, you can counter that by improving your skill set.

Find time to work on specific technical skills required for your job. You can join online courses, attend workshops, read books, ask for help on LinkedIn or other social media groups, etc… If your supervisor or boss is supportive, you can even ask for more training from them. 

Another great thing is to improve your soft skills. This includes communication, teamwork, adaptability, and leadership skills, to name a few. If you have these essential skills, you’ll be able to perform better at work. 

3. Show consistent effort

Napoleon Hill, a bestselling author of self-help books, said, “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” Paul J. Meyer, Founder of Leadership Management International (LMI), adds, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

With this in mind, you need to be willing to put in the effort to be a top performer. Sure, you might not always succeed. But that shouldn’t negatively affect you.

Get back up and try even harder. If this is your mindset, you can become very productive and see your name rise as one of the top talents in the workplace. 

4. Accept constructive criticism

If you’re working on improving performance ability, constructive criticism is like a pot of gold – extremely precious. With this, you’ll see where you need to improve from outside sources. 

Suppose your manager comes up to you and says, “I’ve noticed that there have been challenges in meeting project deadlines. It’s crucial for the team’s success that we stick to the timelines. Let’s work together to identify any obstacles you’re facing and find solutions to ensure we meet future deadlines effectively. This will not only contribute to the team’s overall success but also help in your professional growth.” 

This shows you that you’re underperforming because you miss deadlines. So, you must find a new strategy that will ensure you complete everything on time. As your manager suggested, you can work together to improve. 

5. Look for ways to become productive

Besides improving your technical and soft skills, there are other ways to become the best worker. For one, you can prioritize self-care, even while at work. Skye Schooley from says:

Self-care is used to improve physical, mental, and emotional health – a combination that is essential for staying productive over a long period of time.

You can also work to improve your time management. Sleep early so you can wake up earlier. Prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines. Use tools like calendars and to-do lists to organize your schedule.

Small details like this can improve your productivity and help you become a top-performing employee. 

6. Keep a positive demeanor

If you’re negative, it’s easy to feel like the tasks you’re doing are of no importance. So, you hardly give it any attention. Another example is if you hate everybody at work and dream of a new job with better people. All this can negatively affect your engagement and performance. 

This is why it’s so important to keep a positive demeanor. Smiling at your colleagues, actively participating in meetings, and approaching tasks with a can-do attitude can change everything.

Even if it’s a struggle, you’ll start to see things more positively. This will not only help your performance, it can create a better work environment, too. 

7. Find a healthy work-life balance

One of the biggest reasons people under-perform is because they’re burnout. To cure that, you need to find the perfect work-life balance. A lifestyle where it doesn’t just revolve around work. You have time for personal goals, dreams, and hobbies. You can spend time with your family and friends. 

If you’re able to disengage once you exit the work building, your mind won’t be so occupied with work and you’ll have time to enjoy yourself. This cures you from burnout. When you don’t feel so burnout anymore, you can focus on revitalizing your work performance. 

Not only that, you’ll find that it’s easier to give 100% during work time when you know you also have time to enjoy yourself. 

8. Organize your workplace

Want to start small? Then you can simply go and organize your workplace. This can already do wonders in helping improve your work performance. Audrey Eads from says:

A clean and organized workspace helps people to keep track of their assignments and helps people focus.

Eads also comes up with a great way to organize everything. Here’s what she had to say, “Clean: The first step to take in organizing your office is to get rid of any unnecessary items. Prioritize: Think about the tasks and responsibilities you have, and evaluate which things are most important and which things take up most of your time. Categorize: Use color coding, files, bins, or other organizational tools to categorize and organize physical or digital files. Plan: Use your list of important tasks and responsibilities to help you develop a plan for your daily routine. Look at your newly organized space and decide how you can best use it to complete your tasks in assignments efficiently.”

9. Limit workplace distractions

Why don’t you get your tasks done on time or effectively? Is it because you’re highly distracted? Well, one way to become a top performer is to get rid of those distractions. A study showed that the main distractions in the workforce are coworkers, your phone, emails, and noise

If you want to do a good job in your tasks, tell coworkers to not disturb you. Silent your phone and put it away. Turn off your email notifications. Wear noise-canceling headphones if you must.

Find what distracts you and avoid it. If you put all your focus on your task, you’ll be able to complete it effectively and efficiently. In turn, your poor performance can change to excellent performance. 

Read More: A Nosy Coworker Keeps Asking Personal Questions At Work? 12 Easy Ways to Deal With Them

10. Reward yourself for a job well done

Even if you make the slightest improvement, you should reward yourself. This way, you’ll be encouraged to do even better next time.

Maybe after organizing your workspace and day, you can buy yourself that dream book or game. If you were able to submit tasks on time, treat yourself to a dinner or hang out with family and friends. Think of small things that make you happy — the rewards you choose don’t have to be expensive.

Final Words

If you realize “I am a low performer at work!”, you might want to make changes to save your reputation. To do that, follow my 10 tips on how to get back on track and become a top performer in the workplace. This will not only make you feel better, it will help you grow personally and professionally. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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