Being able to advocate for yourself when seeking stretch assignments and promotions means building a solid case that shows how you contribute to larger goals. Hoping that others will notice (and remember) your accomplishments, or understand challenges overcome, can result in being under-recognized and under-employed. But having a robust method to track progress on your own, and effective techniques for sharing it with decision makers, can powerfully position you for what’s next.
Shine a spotlight
Women professionals are frequently described as being hesitant to talk up their own accomplishments. There may be some truth to that; girls are often raised with a greater emphasis on being cooperative, polite and agreeable and it can be hard to shake that mindset. But there is also disturbing research that shows the gender gap in self-promotion may be less about women lacking confidence and more a function of documented backlash they can receive when they do spotlight their accomplishments. Women are sometimes labeled as aggressive or pushy for self-advocacy behaviors more accepted in men.
While it is essential for organizations to build in the change and bias-eliminating practices that will counter these hurdles, a personal scorecard can help you document your contributions from a fact-based, objective foundation that ties them to organization goals.
Make it personal
This document is for your eyes only so design it to work for you. Host of the Forbes podcast, The Limit Does Not Exist
, Christina Wallace, took inspiration for her approach from the Balanced Scorecard strategic management framework developed by Harvard Professor Robert Kaplan, Ph.D., and David Norton, Ph.D., founder of the Palladium Group. The popular tool helps leaders “balance” four critical perspectives in an organization: financial, business process, customer and organizational capacity. Wallace applies a Personal Balanced Scorecard
to her life as a whole.
“I decided to adapt this tool for my own personal use and to use it on a semi-annual basis to check in and redirect my work across four verticals: financial health, physical health, professional achievement, and personal relationships,” she wrote in Forbes. Although she isn’t as KPI-focused in her personal life as you’d be using the tool in a company setting, she finds the process of choosing the categories to track, as well as evaluating them throughout the year, helps her both monitor progress and clarify what she cares about most.
Connect the dots
A critical component of your personal scorecard is how it will help you tie your personal contributions to the bigger picture. When you frame your accomplishments in terms of how they support or advance team, department or company initiatives and reinforce company values and priorities, you demonstrate how you add value while navigating that tricky area of being seen as overly self-promotional.
To do that effectively, of course you must deeply understand the goals of the organization. That starts with tuning in to the strategic imperatives of your immediate supervisor and division head as well as digging into your organization’s annual report, participating in quarterly earnings calls in publicly traded companies and following your organization on social media.
What to track
Once you decide to set up a Personal Scorecard, make sure you revisit it at least quarterly and keep an eye out for key items to include. If you only evaluate your accomplishments at annual performance time, you will likely miss a lot of how what you do each day helps your organization move forward.
Top of mind will be tracking KPIs that show how you have moved the needle on critical priorities. That’s a given. But make sure you also document starting metrics when you inherit a difficult situation or are tasked with a turnaround initiative. Otherwise, the degree of the challenge and scope of improvement can get lost within your success as new performance levels quickly become the norm. Similarly, make sure you track milestones within large and multi-year projects as many of your efforts will not have tidy starting and ending points with easily quantified results.
You will also want to capture positive feedback from clients, colleagues, supervisors or even online reviews that reflect on your talents, work ethic and everyday accomplishments throughout the year. If your boss sends an email praising your presentation, document it. You should also track your professional development. If you have mastered new skills, completed coursework, attended or presented at conferences, hosted a Lunch and Learn, mentored other employees or taken on volunteer leadership activities in your organization, those activities factor in to your growing impact and influence.
In the short run, a personal scorecard can help you stay focused on key strategic goals, track progress, identify trouble spots and advocate for your next challenge. Over the longer term, it can also help illuminate whether you are truly growing, the situations where you excel and enjoy the most, and whether the core elements in life feel balanced. Taking charge of your own growth will also help you tune into the development needs of direct reports and enable you to model the importance of self-investment and advocacy to ongoing success.