“Who do you think is the one person that is most interested in your career in this company?” asked a very big burly dressed in a Armani suite man across a very expensive table. This was the Vice President of Airlines solutions at American Airlines. One of the people that made it to the top of American Airlines within no time at all. The person across the table from him was me. It was my first day at AA and I did not have a clue. I said somewhat tentatively “You?”.
He laughed heartily. He pointed his finger at me and said “YOU! Are the only person that is interested in your career here at American and anywhere else.”
I was shocked, disappointed and felt like a cricket ball had just hit me on the head. In my exasperation I asked “But how?”. Steve was not a patient person and perfunctorily said “Have you worked on your BSC?”.
I really don’t remember anything else. I just remember coming out of his swanky office and heading straight to the water fountain feeling betrayed that the company had let me down!
Let us pause for a moment and jump into something background information.
AA and most of the companies I have worked with from there on had a program for tracking your own career growth. This entire program was based on Kaplan’s Balance Score Card (BSC) system. Where people were Managed By Objectives (MBO) using Key Result Areas (KRA) and a quantitative measure for measuring the progress in the KRA called Key Performance Indicators (KPI). “Ah, ha!” Sounds familiar? That is exactly what we are trying to do at Core with Core Perform program.
“Why do they have these programs?” It is a simple structure to ensure that the entire company is aligned to the needs of the organization. From the top to the bottom!
In the BSC program the company goals are set based on the market conditions in the annual planning exercise. Each department in the company set their own goals, KRA and KPIs that are aligned to ensure the company goals. Based on the department goals we set the managers goals, and based these every employee. These KRAs become the fabric by which a company can be moved along much like a steering wheel to a car!
Let us ask the question again, “That is all fine Harsha, how does this relate to me”? Simple, on a monthly basis just make sure that you have a specific KRA. Usually about four or five (Guess what are the prime KRAs almost unilaterally across engineer?). Each KRA must have one or more clearly measurable task. You and your manager can go through this in your 1-1 (One on One) and fill in a simple one pager that talks about what you have done against the KRA and how you have performed.
I can hear the skeptics say, “What will that give me?”, “How does this relate to what my increments?”. Think about it, if you are going through with your manager and making sure that your KRAs and tasks are inline with the organization goals and that you are performing up to your expectations set by your manager on a month on month basis. You should be in good great shape to when you get to your annual review. If you feel you are not doing well in the first few months you can seek for help from your manager or from other quarters in the organization.
Let us jump back and conclude my tribulations,
After receiving a thunderbolt from Steve about BSC (KRA), I wobbled around to my mentor at the office to ask him what on earth Steve was talking to me about. He gently pointed me to the HR team who helped me realize that what he was saying (However curt :)) was absolutely spot on. I gradually realized that my career was entirely up to myself. By having a solid KRA/KPI and by pestering my manager to meet with me at least on a monthly basis (Where we actually talked about my KRA), I found myself in a pretty good position when it come to increments. Sometimes my increments were late, sometimes they were completely crazy (I was paid less than 11 of the 12 people that worked for me :)), I found that I was compensated fairly and for the value that I brought to the organization. Best of all I could have a constructive meeting with my manager during my annual review that helped me immensely with my career. Steve had a way of cutting to the chase and because of him I had learnt a great lesson that has helped me immensely through my career.
Follow the simple guide lines that Steve give me:
- You are the only person interested in your career.
- Make sure that you have a monthly KRA meeting with your manager (1-1).
You will be surprised how quickly you will start doing better in your increment meetings! For those that want a closure, don’t do it and you are sure to have a bad if not hopeless increment meeting. Shortly at Core. No KRA/KPI will mean no increment at all!