Another year has gone by in your engineering career and you are about to embark on yet another one. As each year goes by in your career: how exactly are you measuring whether or not you are building a successful engineering career?
In this post, I would like to share with you some ways that you can measure your success as an engineer, and also get some feedback from you on how you have been doing it.
#1 Define/Review Your Success Definition
It is absolutely impossible to measure how successful you were this past year as an engineer if you don’t have a clear picture or definition of what “success” looks like. When I say “definition,” I mean make it as specific as possible.
Seriously, we’re engineers, we have specifications for everything, why not have one for a successful engineering career?
For purposes of this post, let’s use a sample and say: “A successful engineering career to me is one in which I am a leader in both my engineering firm and my community.”
I know this may still be somewhat vague, but as long as you can measure it, it will work.
So let’s talk about measuring success….
#2 Identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Success in your Engineering Career
Okay so in this example, I have defined a successful engineering career as one in which I am a leader in both my engineering firm and my community.
Now I want to determine some key performance indicators that will help me to identify where I am on the path to success. Here are some tangible ones that come to mind:
- The number of projects I manage.
- The total budgets of all projects that I manage.
- The number of people I manage.
- The number of people I impact through my projects.
- The amount of salary that I make.
I will stop there for this example, but what I am trying to find here with KPIs are measurable metrics that help me determine if I am successful (as I define success), because if I am not, then what’s the point, right?
The KPIs I have selected here, will help to ultimately measure the impact that I am having in my company and on my community and I am defining a leader as someone who can have a big positive impact. If you want to read more about KPIs, check out Chris’ article from this past May on using key performance indicators to manage your career and life.
#3 Develop a Method for Measuring your KPIs
Next I would set up a spreadsheet of some type (hey, I am an engineer what did you expect?!) to measure these KPIs.
I would put the KPIs in the rows of the spreadsheet and have a column for each month in the year.
This will allow me, in just a matter of minutes once a per month, to assess the KPIs. Some of these might be difficult to measure, for example the number of people I impact through my projects. Let’s say you are managing the design for a bridge, and that bridge facilitates 10,000 people driving to work every day, then you might consider the impact of that project to be affecting 10,000 people. Then if you add a second project of that magnitude to your responsibilities, you are now impacting 20,000 people, thus increasing your level of success, based on your definition.
I have also included salary here, because typically, the more responsibilities you have, the higher the salary, although that is not always the case.
#4 Measure your KPI’s Monthly
This step is simple, but of course not always done as we get busy and forget to measure.
If you have followed the previous steps, then this step should be simply filling in your spreadsheet or measurement dashboard. Doing this monthly will give you an amazing measurement tool for building a successful engineering career over time.
#5 Make Adjustments
Last, but certainly not least, you must use all of this measuring and tracking to your advantage, by making adjustments moving forward.
For example, if you notice you have managed the same number of people, and have had pretty much the same salary over 2 years, something must be wrong. You should have a conversation with your engineering supervisor and find out why you are not progressing in these areas.
Maybe you need to adjust your management style. Maybe your projects haven’t been successful so you haven’t been given more responsibilities. Then you can dig deeper on this issue. There is absolutely no reason for measuring, if you are not going to make adjustments based on your measurements.
Please Share Your Engineering Career Success Definition
Please leave your comments at the bottom of this post, and if comfortable leave your definition of success as an engineer, and how you measure it. Let’s get some conversation going that can help you reflect, and make next year a truly successful year in your engineering career.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success