We were teaching a job search workshop several years ago. One of the participants, I’ll call him Paul, attended as part of his employer’s lay off program. They had informed him he would be laid off, but gave him time to look for a new job while still employed. We were teaching how to communicate return on investment (ROI) to potential employers. The group were quietly preparing statements listing their accomplishments. When suddenly, Paul blurted out “Look at this! They are crazy to let me go. Look what I did for them!”
Members of the group asked him if he had told management what he had done. His answer, “No, it’s their job to notice.” The group helped him understand the error of that statement. He listened to them, pondered what they said, and did not return from lunch. We didn’t see him the rest of the day.
Before I finish Paul’s story, I wanted to address this concept shared by so many: “Its management’s job to notice my contribution.” As the management span of control expands, supervisors frequently don’t work on the same continent (let alone in the same building), and organization’s increasingly treat employees as interchangeable parts; communicating your contribution or ROI becomes more important.
Employees who regularly report their achievement–and verify that the results meet or exceed management’s expectations–establish a baseline value for performance evaluations. We suggest the following actions to ensure your performance aligns with organizational directions and desires.
- Clarify, by asking, the key performance indicators (KPI) assigned to your job
- Closely monitor, with your own graphs and charts if needed, your daily or weekly performance to the KPIs
- Prepare a statement at least once a month reporting how you improved KPIs, decreased costs, or in other ways provided an ROI to the company. Use a different vehicle each month to deliver your statements: verbally, email, handwritten cards, or text.
- Keep all of the statements and recopy them into your performance appraisal or evaluation at the end of the year.
Include the following information in your statements:
- “You indicated that you wanted to improve YY”
- “This month, I YY and NN.”
- “As a result we increased BB generating an additional $$”
- “Are those results you hope to achieve?”
Returning to Paul’s story. We didn’t see him the rest of the day. We worried that we had offended him with our comments. Imagine our relief when he returned the next day and shared the rest of his story. He returned to his manager the day before declaring “I think you are making a mistake laying me off. May I share what I have done for the company?” Then, he shared the statements he had prepared in class. The manager asked a few questions and excused himself from the room. The manager returned 20 minutes later and said “I reviewed what you told me with my boss and with Human Resources. We’ve agreed that your value to the company suggests that we should keep you. You’ve been taken off the lay-off list.”
Expecting management to notice the good you do for them (ROI) can lead to frustration and disappointment. Providing them with solid, well-documented evidence of your ROI helps them make good decisions when it comes time to assign raises and valued assignments.