Measuring Career Growth (Financial and Learning goals) – Part II

This is the follow-up to my last post in which I talked about various measures of career success and the need to prioritize various goals so that trade-offs can be made when time is factored in. In this post, I will focus on two goals and their measures: financial and learning.

Financial Goals: Even though it may sound trivial or easy, financial goals should still be framed and kept around to make sure you are meeting them. Other than the obvious way of framing the goal (“X % raise over Y years”), you can also frame them in terms of utility of money. For example, a goal could be ‘paying off my car/house debt in Z years’, or ‘saving X in Y years’. This is important, especially when your job changes and the obvious measure may not be valid (for ex, if you move from US to India or China, it is less clear what raise/reduction in salary meets your goal). Of course, this assumes your career plans take you global!

Learning goals: Most learning goals can be defined as acquisition of competencies , a term which is closely related to skill but more measurable. For example, ability to run a meeting is a skill, and competency tells you whether you can run a cross-functional, product release meeting well. Most HR departments in good organizations ensure those skills and competencies matrixes are defined for various job levels. You can use this matrix, as defined by your organization, to see where you are and where you want to be. In the context of an organization, these can also map to a particular job title or level, and hence you can also visualize your learning goal as ‘become a technical lead’. However, remember that most promotions depend on various other factors than competency acquisition, and hence title achievement (or lack of it) should not be considered a sure way of measuring competency acquisition.

Organizations use various forms of assessment to evaluate competency acquisition, easiest of which is a formal, written test. However, as you evaluate yourself, think of on-job-testing. Think of scenarios where you had to apply a particular competency (managing cross-functional team meetings for ex) and self-evaluate. It is also a good idea to enlist some peers (or your mentor if you have one) to provide you with feedback which can then be used as your measure. Always ask the questions: “How did others perceived my performance?” and “What visible value/results did I provide to the organization?”.

How do you frame your financial or learning goals when you do your career planning? How does your company leverage competencies (if it does) in their job descriptions and performance evaluations?

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