5 tips on how to improve your execution skills at work

By Robert Half on 11 July 2024
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

It’s been said that “the best strategy in the world is useless unless it's executed.” As many organisations have found, execution is a true differentiator in business, separating the leaders from the followers, the innovators from the laggers.

No matter your industry, execution skills are crucial in any job. They encompass your ability to effectively and efficiently carry out tasks and they can lay the foundation for your professional reputation. Whether you’re looking to excel in your current role, or catch the eye of recruiters (as one in two Hong Kong employees are), mastering execution is critical.

If you’re wondering how to improve your execution skills, read on. In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of execution in Hong Kong – the challenges, the case studies, and the five tips that can help you sharpen this all-important skill set.

Understanding execution

Broadly speaking, execution skills encompass the abilities required to perform a task, complete a project, or meet company goals. While business leaders typically use these skills to complete their duties and manage their wider team, it’s a skill set that’s not endemic to management.

Every employee can benefit from flexing their execution muscles. Even if you are not a business leader, sharp execution skills will enable you to complete your daily tasks effectively and efficiently.

While execution is a skill on its own, it’s common for it to be used alongside other critical skills such as:

  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Prioritising
  • Decision-making
  • Delegating
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Jessica Yeung, Associate Director at Robert Half and specialised financial services recruiter with a decade of experience, emphasises that execution surpasses business.

She says, “I firmly believe that execution is a critical life skill. When mastered, it can have dramatic impacts on one’s professional and personal life. Knowing how to improve your execution skills is essential in building your execution power. Make no mistake, it will be instrumental in maximising your potential - in every aspect of your life, execution skills can help you to function more productively, achieve goals, and enjoy a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.”

Related: How to improve your persuading, influencing and negotiating skills

Execution challenges

While solid execution skills offer clear benefits, there can be associated challenges, especially in the context of culture.

Jessica believes that it’s important for Hong Kong professionals to be mindful of the distinct execution challenges that they face. She says “Hong Kong is internationally revered for its strong work ethic and high expectations. Professionals face tight deadlines, large workloads, long hours, and big expectations around productivity and efficiency. A high-performance standard is not optional, it’s essential. Professionals need to meet their targets while navigating cultural nuances that emphasise clear communication and hierarchical respect.”

If you’re looking at how to improve your execution skills, take the time to understand the cultural factors at play. Let’s take a look at some of the common execution challenges in Hong Kong and how to overcome them:

High workload

The Challenge: With Hong Kong boasting a notoriously high-pressure work culture, many employees try to juggle several tasks and responsibilities that amount to overwhelming workloads.

The Solution:

  • Prioritise tasks – Take the time to understand what is most urgent, addressing the most important issues first.
  • Delegate – Understand how/where work can be redistributed. Know when to delegate tasks to other capable team members.
  • Time management – Employ scheduling tactics such as time allocation to maintain focus and productivity.

Related: How to improve your time management while working from home

Tight deadlines

The Challenge: Tight deadlines are a common part of Hong Kong business leading to stress and burnout.

The Solution:

  • Careful planning – Establish a plan of action to make the workload more manageable. Break the wider project into smaller tasks and set individual deadlines to ensure each component is executed according to plan.
  • Open communication – Practice open communication with team members and key stakeholders to set realistic deadlines and manage expectations.
  • Flexibility – Be ready to pivot and reprioritise tasks as deadlines approach.

Cultural Nuances

The Challenge: Hong Kong’s workplace culture is influenced by a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. This can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

The Solution:

  • Cultural awareness: Invest time into understanding the cultural norms and values of colleagues and clients to build prosperous, collaborative relationships.
  • Effective Communication: Be clear and concise. Use simple language and avoid jargon that isn’t widely understood.
  • Respect and Sensitivity: Show respect for cultural differences and be sensitive to how these differences may impact workplace dynamics.

Strategies to improve your execution skills

Henry Ford once said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” So, how do you improve your execution skills to better your chances of bringing your visions to life?

Start by adopting our top five tips below:

1. Goal setting and planning

It can be tempting to dive into a pressing project head first. That said, it’s important to be measured and methodical to boost your chances of success. This includes taking adequate time to pause and plan.

Start by clearly identifying your goals – don’t be afraid to be specific!

Break down your large goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. Develop an action plan that will keep you motivated and accountable - create realistic timelines and prioritise effectively.

Work to assemble the resources and people you need upfront, and recognise and address any possible sources of delays.

Related: How to answer the interview question: "How do you drive results"

2. Time Management

Effective execution hinges on solid time management (and some self-awareness).

Be critical - assess which times of day you work best, and allocate more challenging tasks to these periods. Furthermore, identify tasks that you may be able to delegate to other capable members of your team.

Be diligent - avoid distractions such as chatting with colleagues or checking social media. Remember, it can waste valuable time and can always be done during lunch breaks.

If you find yourself straying from the work at hand (i.e., continually checking emails), consider allocating periods to review and respond to emails. Alternatively, use techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique to enhance focus and productivity. This effective method utilises fixed time intervals for focused work, usually 25 minutes, followed by short breaks to make it easier to focus on a single task.

Allocate specific time blocks for different tasks and stick to your schedule as much as possible. But, be sure to schedule regular breaks into your working day to rest and energise!

3. Decision-making

To improve your execution skills, start by assessing your decision-making capabilities. Effective decision-making is crucial for workplace execution because it directly impacts the ability to achieve goals and complete projects efficiently. After all, it has a hand in everything from resource allocation to problem-solving, strategic development to risk management.

The ability to make long-term decisions is one of the main foundations of effective execution. Try not to get weighed down by short-term decisions – they’ll generally only lead to short-term results. Always be mindful of the bigger picture and base your decisions on your future objectives.

While quick decisions can be tempting, it’s always important to balance analysis with action. So, be sure to develop a framework (such as the one below) for making timely and informed decisions:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Gather necessary information
  3. Identify alternatives
  4. Evaluate alternatives
  5. Make a decision
  6. Implement the decision
  7. Monitor and review the implementation

4. Communication and collaboration

When it comes to effective workplace execution, clear communication and respectful collaboration are pivotal. Open communication with team members and stakeholders helps to keep them aligned, informed, and on board with shared goals.

Concise communication will help to reduce misunderstandings, minimise errors, and inspire problem-solving.

Collaboration and two-way dialogue will help to harness the diverse skills and perspectives of team members, giving way to innovative solutions, improved performance, and enriched experiences.

In a multicultural environment such as Hong Kong, it’s important to carefully consider your communication and collaboration approaches. With so many cultural nuances at play, you must employ the following:

  1. Cultural awareness and sensitivity – Honouring cultural differences and respecting cultural norms.
  2. Clear and inclusive communication - Using simple language that avoids jargon that may not be widely understood.
  3. Active listening – Affording others the time to speak without being interrupted. Be sure to summarise what you’ve heard to reduce the chances of miscommunication.
  4. Technology – To collaborate with remote teams (i.e., Slack and Zoom) and keep a record of important discussions and decisions.
  5. Trust and relationship building – To strengthen team cohesion to maximise collaboration efforts.

5. Adaptability and resilience

Adaptability and resilience are essential strategies for improving execution skills. While they can often be overlooked, they ultimately enable you to respond to change, overcome obstacles, and maintain productivity under pressure.

Adaptability allows you to adjust to new conditions and find innovative solutions, while resilience helps you recover from setbacks and focus on your goals. These traits enable individuals and teams to thrive in fast-changing work environments - executing tasks efficiently, sustaining performance, and fostering a positive workplace culture.

Jessica says, “Effective execution skills aren’t built on an ‘obstacle-free’ journey. Everyone is set to encounter hurdles of some kind – knowing how to navigate them is critical in managing change and maintaining productivity.”

Jessica shares her top strategies for handling setbacks and maintaining resilience below:

  1. Maintain a positive mindset – Stay optimistic and see setbacks as opportunities for growth.
  2. Learn from setbacks – Reflect on what went wrong and why so you can build a stronger path forward.
  3. Develop a support system – Build lasting connections that can serve as a source of support and encouragement.
  4. Be flexible – Be open to changing your approach or strategy to give way to innovative thinking.
  5. Set realistic goals – Divide big projects into smaller tasks to reduce overwhelm.
  6. Maintain perspective – Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture and accept setbacks as part of the process.

Case study: How Leo Cheng’s strong execution skills fuelled career success

Leo Cheng is a Project Manager at a leading tech company in Hong Kong. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Leo is revered for his stellar execution skills, which have helped to drive his career growth and the success of his projects.


Leo’s role involves managing complex projects with tight deadlines, coordinating with diverse teams, and navigating the rapidly evolving tech landscape. Throughout his career, Leo has faced challenges such as high workloads, cultural nuances, and the integration of new technologies.

Leo’s strategies for success

  1. Effective planning and organisation: Leo developed detailed project plans with clear milestones and deadlines. He used project management tools to track progress and ensure that all team members were aligned.
  2. Clear communication: Recognising the importance of communication, Leo held regular meetings to keep his team informed and engaged. He also opened various feedback channels, fostering a collaborative environment.
  3. Adaptability: Leo embraced change by staying abreast of industry trends and continuously learning new skills. His ability to adapt to new tools and methodologies sharpened his competitive edge when it came to project delivery.
  4. Resilience: When faced with setbacks, such as unexpected technical issues or resource constraints, Leo maintained a positive attitude and focused on finding solutions. His resilience inspired his team to stay motivated and on track.
  5. Cultural awareness: Leo worked with a multicultural team to understand and respect different cultural perspectives. This improved team cohesion and collaboration, enhancing overall project execution.


Successful project delivery: Leo led the successful launch of several high-profile projects, each delivered on time and within budget. His projects consistently met or exceeded client expectations.

Career advancement: Leo’s strong execution skills fast-tracked his promotions and recognition within his company. He progressed from a Project Coordinator to a Senior Project Manager in under five years.

Team development: Under Leo’s leadership, his team members developed their skills and grew in their roles, leading to improved team performance.

Related: Why is attitude important in the workplace in Hong Kong?


Leo Cheng’s success highlights how strong execution skills, including effective planning, clear communication, adaptability, resilience, and cultural awareness, can drive career advancement and project success. His ability to navigate challenges and deliver results has made him a notable professional in Hong Kong’s tech industry.

Put simply, your professional (and personal) effectiveness comes down to your execution skills. Every industry and every role welcomes your ability to effectively and efficiently carry out tasks and projects. Make no mistake, it’s not just your workplace that’s set to benefit – by mastering these skills you can set yourself apart, enriching your life in the process. Knowing how to improve your execution skills is the key to boosting your success and your satisfaction both in and out of the office.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are execution skills?

Execution skills encompass the abilities required to perform a task, complete a project, or meet company goals. Sharp execution skills will enable you to complete your daily tasks effectively and efficiently.

What are the key components of good execution?

  • Goal setting and planning
  • Time Management
  • Decision-Making
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Adaptability and resilience

What are some examples of execution skills?

  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Prioritising
  • Decision-making
  • Delegating
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

What are some common barriers to execution?

  • Tight deadlines
  • Large workloads
  • Long hours
  • High-performance standards
  • Cultural nuances

What are some tips for prioritising tasks and improving focus?

  • Practice self-awareness.
  • Determine which times of day you work best - allocate challenging tasks to these periods.
  • Delegate tasks where appropriate.
  • Be diligent and avoid distractions.
  • Use your breaks to chat with colleagues or check social media.
  • Employ techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique to enhance focus and productivity.
  • Allocate specific time blocks for different tasks and stick to your schedule as much as possible.
  • Schedule regular breaks into your working day to rest and energise!

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