You’re all fired up for the new year, right? You can just taste the 2014 achievements now as you come off the holiday break with new career resolutions and energy to carry them out. Or maybe you’re not completely fired up (or rested) but know you need to show real progress this year. If neither of those descriptions are you, stop reading now, because this will waste your time.
Baselines matter. Look no further than athletic training programs where baselines are a fundamental part of training. We love sports metaphors for a reason…because we recognize athletes as the elite who need to work hard to be competitive. If they need baselines, so do you.
If you have a good job description, that is a baseline to start from as well, because it reflects the minimum that should be expected of you. To grow personally, professionally and get paid more, you need to exceed your job description by a measurable amount. You need to accomplish something beyond occupying a chair.
Create your baseline
If you have plans to accomplish something real in 2014, you need to baseline where you are right now, on this first real Monday of work in 2014. If you don’t do it up front and early (like today), you know in your heart that you just won’t do it.
There are three compelling reasons to do this right now:
1. For yourself – As the year unfolds, you need a way to take stock of where you are in your career, in your role, and in your organization. A self-assessment is a periodic necessity and the new year provides a convenient beginning point. From that assessment, it becomes much easier to set personal goals.
3. For your boss – Few remember the whole year as it draws to a close. More likely, managers have gradually hazier memories of what things were like when the year started. More likely, they remember only the past few months very well. By capturing a baseline of exactly what’s working and not, a large measure of honesty can be injected into the end of the year look back.
2. For your organization – The baseline you create today ‘resets honesty’ about where you and your team are. It’s an opportunity to shed the posturing and claims of victory from 2013 and start in a reasonable place for 2014. The alternative, out-hyping your own hype, is brutal.
What does a baseline look like? It can take several forms…if you’re feeling extra-brave, you can survey your coworkers and boss to get the answers or do an inventory and rate yourself.
If you don’t baseline your job and your career today, you’ll wish you had. February will arrive and before you know it, so will December. You’ll wish you had insight into exactly where the year began. Your annual evaluation, your year-end bonus, and your personal sense of achievement probably depend on it.