Results. It’s why you are hired and what is expected.
When thinking of being a success in a role or project, I consider it in 3 parts.
- What’s expected of me and by who?
- How will I be measured and by who?
- What’s the process of ongoing check in communication?
Most of the time there is some kind of standard for all of these questions. But what do you do when there’s not?
I have taken on roles where there was just a skeleton of a description because it was a new job and I needed to establish the rest. I began by getting a clear understanding of what the end result was that was needed….If someone in this role was considered successful, what would have been accomplished? Once I had that, I reviewed it with the key constituents that would be looking at this work – the key one being my boss! Once there was agreement here, I would look to determine what tangible ways we could measure success.
There is a balance of quantity and quality. Just ‘doing stuff’ but going nowhere does not equal success, so you have to look further than just counting how many times you do something as the key measure of success. Here is an example. If I am a salesperson, you may want to count the number of times I contact a customer, but that’s just a measure of activity and how I spend my time. You need to measure my actual sales to get at delivering the goal.
Once those measures are agreed upon (this step is key, don’t skip it), then you want to determine a cadence for reviewing progress. It could be monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc. I don’t recommend going too long between check ins. If you are off track or the goal has been changed, etc. you want to know sooner rather than later so you can course correct. At annual review time, it’s too late. It is what it is.
It is up to you to know where you are against your goals at all times. No matter the routine with you boss, keep tabs on how you are doing and why. Have a big success? Note it in your files and share with your boss. Same with feedback and progress. You don’t have to wait until the ‘formal’ time. Pro-actively managing the message with your boss helps them understand where you are and what you are doing. It instills confidence in you as their associate and can help identify any discrepancies early – so you can have a conversation.
I took a role that had all of my three things in place. Even with that, I made a big error. There was one initiative that I didn’t place as much focus on. I thought the others were more important. When it came down to my annual review, I was surprised and highly disappointed to find out that what I thought was a less important initiative was actually very important to my boss. Even with all the progress check ins during the year, my manager had never prioritized this initiative. I assumed we were on the same page. And you know about assuming. While I could blame my boss, I recognize that I could have done a better job myself throughout the year in confirming progress on each initiative – not just the ones I was knocking out of the park.
Own your performance. Set yourself up for success. Not everything is in your control, but ongoing communication, confirmation and alignment of your deliverables will help you be in more control.