How are you measured?

How are you measured at work?

This seems like a simple question, right? Take a moment, and answer if you can. (I’ll wait.) Was that easy?
For some, the measures of success are clear.

  • If you are in sales, you are probably measured by your revenue or secured contracts. 
  • If you are a project manager, your success likely depends on whether you deliver agreed-upon milestones and stay within budget.
  • If you are a customer service provider, satisfaction ratings or tickets answered might be your primary metric.
  • If you are a supervisor or manager, you might be evaluated on your employee engagement ratings among other things. 


But many of us have fluid roles with measures of success that are about as clear as London fog.
When you don’t know how your success is measured, it’s very hard to prioritize your daily actions. The list of things that you could, should or might do continually grows, resulting in fractured attention, difficulty planning, plentiful emergencies, and (eventually) exhaustion.

I’ve lived this reality. At one time I was in charge of developing and running the corporate training function at a college. My mission was to “grow the Contract Education function.” (End of story.) I had amazing autonomy, but very little structure. My days were full of activity and I was achieving lots of outcomes, but I never knew whether I was performing “up to standard,” since no standards had been set.
So I did ALL the things I believed could work. I built curriculum, met with prospective clients, gave free talks at local venues, partnered with the Workforce Investment Board, wrote grants, hired instructors, trained and evaluated those instructors, delivered training, wrote articles, stayed in touch with customers, collected testimonials, researched new topics, wrote contracts, ensured timely payments, designed, marketed, and delivered open-enrollment courses, and more.
Eventually, the pace was too much. I was on the fast track to burnout.
Sound familiar? (If you take a moment to write down all the things you do at work, your list will probably feel every bit as chaotic as the one above.)
One day I realized that doing EVERYTHING isn’t nearly as important as doing the RIGHT things. Which begs the question: what are the right things?


We can only identify the RIGHT things when we know how our success is measured.


I eventually decided that my greatest contribution would be to create a department that could live on without me. I picked “creating a sustainable enterprise” as my primary metric, and then evaluated all actions through that lens. (After approval by my manager!) That lens showed me I needed to spend more time creating standardized operating procedures and courses, and less time delivering custom training programs for every client.
In one fell swoop, I knew what to say NO to, and what to say YES to. Ahhhhh. What a feeling!
CONSIDER: What is the primary outcome YOU are working toward, and what powerful actions are going to help you get there?

Creating greater clarity about how you are measured can help you plan ahead, be strategic about the actions you take, set appropriate boundaries, and make tremendous strides toward success.

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