Create Personal Metrics to Advance Your Career

Last Updated Jan 25, 2011 1:46 PM EST

When you go to the boss for a raise or promotion, how do you establish your worth? The company probably looks at traditional job-related metrics to do so, but they may not capture your real value to the company. They might not reflect what you do best.

For example, if you are a public relations specialist, your boss might ask how many positive articles about the firm you generated in the media. If you say three, and your colleague Joyce produced 30, your value is lower. But is it? If you generated three stories that were in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Economist, that's much more value than Joyce's 30 stories in local newspapers and on a cooking blog.

Developing metrics that measure you is an excellent post on HBR.org by Whitney Johnson, a founding partner in the investment firm Rose Park Advisors and a highly ranked institutional investor. In other words, she is good at looking for measures of value.

"If our best skill isn't easily measured, then we need to be our own (baseball GM) Billy Beane and find innovative ways to measure what we do best," Johnson writes. "Once we've identified our best skills, and figured out how to measure them, we are well on our way to maximizing our value."

At Perrigo, she says, these metrics are in place:

  • Talent Developer. Count the number of team members you helped transfer into other areas of the organization.
  • Innovator. Did you develop an environment that fosters innovation as evidenced by the number of ideas generated by their team?
  • Value Integrator (a manager who analyzes and synthesizes information and turns it into a competitive asset). How many cash management strategies came from your division?
Have you used innovative metrics to make your case for career advancement? Please share.

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(Photo by Flickr user tiffa130, CC 2.0)
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.