This episode is about action vs. impact. The actions you take as part of your engineering job vs. the impact of those actions. It’s really important to make that distinction when it comes to your performance reviews.
Every year (and hopefully more often than that) you get some kind of performance review. Some kind of feedback on your performance. You have the opportunity to provide input to that. And you should take advantage of that opportunity.
Your boss will want some reminders of what you’ve been working on and some thoughts from you on your progress and contributions. Then they’ll do their own assessment of how you’re doing and give you feedback.
BUT be careful here. If all you give your boss is a list of activities or actions, that’s not sufficient. It’s critical that you also clearly indicate your impact. Clearly explain what your impact has been as a result of your actions.
So many people leave this part out. But you don’t want to do that because you’ll be leaving out the most important part of your contribution. This is the part that shows how valuable you are.
Underscore Your Value by Highlighting Your Engineering Impact on the Organization
You stand out by emphasizing not just your actions and your roles, but the impact you’re having on the organization.
This is so important for your performance reviews. It gives your management the evidence they need to advocate for you. You’ll have a better chance at competing for opportunities.
And this is how you become known for the impact of your accomplishments. It’s a way to show credibility and get visibility. To showcase your potential so you can stretch into leadership roles and take your career to the next level.
Earlier in my career the lab implemented a pay band system that was contribution based. And I was required, like everyone else, to provide input to my performance review.
I was required to provide what actions I took, what my role was and what the impact was as a result. It turned out to be a great way to tell my story to my boss and higher levels of management.
Coming up with effective impact statements is not always easy. And it takes practice. If you’d like some help with that, book a strategy session with me, and we can walk through it together. We’ll get you what you need to make your engineering experience stand out.
Tips for Creating Effective Impact Statements for Your Performance Review
Here are my 2 big tips for coming up with effective impact statements:
- Ask yourself the following questions:
- How did my action help us progress toward our team goals? Our organizational mission?
- How has my action responded to customer needs?
- How has my action affected my development? And the development of others?
- How has my action improved our products? Or our processes?
- What might have happened if I didn’t take this action?
- Use metrics wherever possible. Numbers are very effective, even if they’re estimated. Some examples of good metrics are:
- Actual dollars or percent of cost savings, income, profit, or margin
- Time savings, production efficiency or time-to-market improvements
- Number of customers served or number of new clients
- Number of design ideas, products shipped, processes improved or problems solved.
All of these things can be quantified and underscore the impact you’ve had on the organization.
Here are a couple modified examples from my actual performance review input. Note that it’s in the 3-part format: action, my role, and impact.
The Action: Training partner organizations on the status of the technology for aerospace applications.
This is descriptive but doesn’t provide much detail. I need to be specific about what I actually did.
My Role: I compiled a technical seminar and co-presented it at multiple sites.
This is better. It tells my boss what I actually did. But it doesn’t say how it helped the organization. That’s where the impact statement comes in.
The Impact: Results included a broader knowledge of our capabilities by more than 250 training attendees at 4 site locations. An additional 2 research collaborations have been secured. And the shared lessons will reduce development time by 25%.
Do you hear how much more effective that is? Can you see how the numbers provide evidence of impact?
Here’s another example.
The Action: Coordinating multiple activities for a new development program.
My Role: I developed the program definition with potential contractors. I established the technical approach to apply to tooling and low-risk parts. And I coordinated the implementation plan.
The Impact: A $20M program was funded and launched. It includes 7 of our partners in the user community. It addresses our customer’s top 5 manufacturing issues for support equipment, tooling, and part replacement. And it increased the chance for technology transition by 40%.
Can you hear how the impact statements really add to the story? This is how your employer will know how valuable you are.
Btw, here’s a bonus tip for you:
This same concept – action + my role + the impact – can be applied to your resume.
(You’re keeping up your resume, aren’t you? We should do an episode on that…)
If you put impact statements on your resume, hiring managers will be more likely to read it – or at least read more of it. Your resume will stand out. And you’ll have an advantage over other applicants. That’s your bonus tip.
The next time you provide input to your performance review, take advantage of the opportunity to emphasize not just your great work, but its awesome consequences and your impact in the engineering community.
Knowing your impact and communicating that through things like your performance review and your resume will make your contribution stand out. It will make you stand out as an impactful engineer.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore agility and how it applies to leadership and your professional power. You won’t want to miss Episode 60.