How To Measure Success at Work: a Step-By-Step Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Depending on your career goals and priorities, there are different ways to measure success at work. There also might be some difference between your idea of success at work and that of your employer. Determining how to measure your success can be very beneficial for your long-term career. In this article, we explain how to measure success at work, how you can determine success for yourself and some examples.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set for Career Success

How to measure success at work

There are many ways you can measure success at work. Measures of success can be smaller achievements, related activities or the development of skills or practices that enable you to progress further in your career. The steps below outline a methodical approach to measuring your in-work success:

1. Use feedback and peer reviews

One of the best ways to ascertain how well you're doing is to seek input from those around you. Identify the individuals whose opinions you respect and periodically seek their input. Additionally, if your work involves working with customers or clients, getting reviews or feedback from them can tell you a lot about your abilities. What's more important is seeing how the feedback changes over time. Consider the following questions about your feedback:

  • Does it improve?

  • Are you receiving fewer complaints about your work?

  • Are you receiving new compliments on your work?

The same applies to your peers. Asking them what they think of your performance is useful, but you can get an even better idea of your progress by asking how well you're doing compared to a year before. Identifying patterns over time is vital to determining whether you're improving and making progress. If you are improving, then this is an indication that you're succeeding.

2. Request performance evaluations

The use of performance evaluations can be equally beneficial to both employers and employees. For an employer, it helps them determine whether they're getting satisfactory performance from their employees. If you're an employee, a performance evaluation can provide measurable ways of determining your success. This becomes even more relevant after you've received a few of them, as you can use these to identify improvements over time or patterns that need attention.

Related: What KPI Stands for and How to Use It in Your Career

3. Complete key daily tasks

Quite often, your career goals may require that you dedicate time to developing new skills, working on certain projects or attaining certain qualifications. If you dedicate certain times of the day to completing these activities, you can measure your success by how frequently you do so.

For instance, you might be studying part time for a higher qualification so that you could set a minimum requirement of two hours of study per day. Keep track of this on your calendar, and you can determine how successfully you're progressing.

4. Consider how your conversations go

In many different areas of work, having excellent communication skills is a major contributor to your success. This is because most work is collaborative or involves the provision of goods or services to others. A vital skill that improves your ability to communicate is active listening. Make sure that you dedicate time to listening attentively to what others are saying, and you may find that your responses are much more relevant and appreciated. Just as reading can help you write better, listening can help you speak better. You can try to listen more actively, even in informal conversations with friends.

Related: How To Improve Your Active Listening Skills

5. Look at your career growth

Depending on the nature of your work, growth and advancement can mean different things. If you're an employee of a company, growth can mean the rate at which you've advanced within the company or how much your salary has increased over time. It could also relate to new responsibilities that you've been given. If you're a sole trader, growth can refer to the profitability of your business, the number of ongoing clients you're serving or how many others you're employing. In both cases, acquiring new skills or improving existing ones can be a valuable measure of success.

6. Consider your peers

For many people, measures of success are a very relative matter. If you're unsure whether you're succeeding, you might consider looking around at those who have a similar background to yourself. This could mean people with similar qualifications, those of a similar age or just your friends. If you observe that most of your comparable peers are succeeding more than you, this can inspire you to work harder. If they're your friends, ask them what they do and for additional input. If you find that you're doing better than most, you know that you're doing the right thing.

Competition among peers can help individuals to perform better. What's important is that this competition is done in a healthy and mutually supportive manner. If you find yourself succeeding where others don't, remember to share your experiences and help those around you. Being a positive influence on your peers is another great way of measuring your own success.

Alternative ways of measuring success

Success generally refers to the achievement of your desired goals or ambitions. This might be a singular achievement or a series of interrelated goals. For some people, these goals are already very clear from a relatively young age. Others may take a while to determine what they want to achieve. Therefore, a measure of success is closely related to your goals and ought to be important to achieve them. Moreover, it can be separate from your current job or career.

For instance, you could measure your success by setting out clear milestones towards your eventual long-term goal. That goal might be a certain degree of financial autonomy or the founding of your own business. Measures of success can, therefore, be vital to determining how much progress you're making towards your goals. If you're still trying to develop your own measures of success or goals, there are different ways of doing this. A good way is to ask yourself some fundamental questions. Some good questions include:

What are my core values and priorities?

Most people have certain values or principles that guide their actions. Abiding by these values can be very beneficial to your sense of self-respect, achievement and stability. They are inherent to your character and can help you remain happy and resilient. If your working life and career ambitions also align with your values, you may be more motivated to work harder. These values also help you make important decisions.

Try to determine what your core values are. Consider the following questions:

  • What do you care about?

  • What sort of difference do you want to make?

The answers to these questions can help you find jobs that fulfil you, and this can then lead to the development of personal milestones. Your values might relate to making a positive impact on your immediate environment, being able to look after your family, or even having a healthy work-life balance so that you can pursue other passions.

Are my priorities compatible with my current lifestyle?

Once you know your values and priorities, it's important to compare them with your current state of affairs. Consider the following:

  • Is your current job compatible with your values?

  • Is your company's culture one that you find appealing?

  • Do you embody your own values in the way you live your life?

Ensuring that your present circumstances align with your priorities is the first step to achieving your goals and then measuring your progress towards them.

What are my goals and strategies?

If you've managed to align your present circumstances with your priorities, you can start to think about your life's trajectory and where you'd like it to go. You can further break this down into short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives. Once you've determined your objectives, you can start formulating a plan or strategy for achieving them. This can lead to clear steps that you need to take, which you can think of as success or indicators of progress. These can either overlap or be separate from your career goals.

Related: Top Tips for Successful Career Progression

Am I staying healthy?

Generally, people want their careers to enable them to live a happy, secure and healthy life. The maintenance of good health also enables you to perform better at work. Assessing your health and taking active steps to improve it can be an excellent indicator of success. The relationships between your health, your career and your quality of life are mutually reinforcing. In addition to measuring success by your personal health, you can ensure progress by keeping track of steps you take. This could involve cooking healthy food, exercising, getting enough sleep or simply taking a walk every day.

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