Help me perform well
June 1, 2008 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Job satisfaction filter: Am I crazy for wanting metrics to assess my performance and if passion is lacking, should I leave?

I'm a scientist who left academia for business. I joined a small, private pharmaceutical company because (a) professors are paid so poorly and (b) I wanted a more fast-paced, interesting job. I was the first person hired at this company, and have been there 3 years. My job is to bring new products, already on the market, into the company. This is not easy, by any metric. However, my research background, along with my scientific degrees, in particular, pharmaceuticals, make me the best person for this job. I work hard - about 50-60 hours a week - and work on weekends, no questions asked, if needed.

My boss is a former investment banker, in the healthcare/pharma sector, with a wife and numerous children. He works hard, if necessary, and will stay waaaay after hours.

The other person in our executive suite is a single mom, much older than I am, with a young child. She is given extensive free reign on her schedule - she makes her own hours.

My question is involves the following: I work like a stupid donkey and am constantly striving to improve my performance. I regularly suggest metrics and goals to my CEO (former investment banker) for myself and try to improve and overachieve. I don't really know how to do this. I regularly ask him,"I want to overachieve; how shall I direct my energies?" and he has no answer. I come up with goals, strategies, etc. to meet and we don't end up discussing them. I continually tell him "I want to move us forward" and make business for the company, but he has no suggestions/ideas/comments. I went so far as to suggest a meeting twice per week, which he ignores if he can. I regularly suggest new products we can acquire or develop to market.

I'm not a baby - I don't need LOVE but I'd like to feel I'm contributing, obviously. I want to be a great performer. In the absence of feedback, I end up feeling like a huge loser.

Has anyone been in this situation?

What have you done to overcome it?

How do I overachieve and feel great about my contribution when my CEO is unresponsive?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds less like you need metrics and more like you need direction in terms of where you should put your effort because it's unclear where your CEO wants to go? (because the recommendation you put forth are not pursue)
posted by wangarific at 6:38 PM on June 1, 2008

What is a metric going to do for you if your compensation is not tied to it? So you reach a goal? I would strive to do so much for the company that when you go in and tell your IB boss that you need a raise or a bigger peice of the equity he has no choice but to give it to you. Money is what an IB person respects. Maximize your potential then ask for more money. Show him how much more you brought to the bottom line. That is the only metric that counts here.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:49 PM on June 1, 2008

It's not about the hours. It's about the results. Don't get caught up in other people's schedules. You have no idea how much work they're doing when they're not in the office.

Look at the company's business plan. What can you do to help achieve those goals? That should be your focus. Talk to the CEO in terms of allocating resources to achieving goals -- market share, revenue growth, profitability, financing, whatever really interests him.

Make your own metrics. Track them yourself. If your boss doesn't care, you can always show them to your next employer.

You might also consider shopping around for a job -- not so you can jump ship, but so you can understand what other companies are looking for. You can look at tying some of your achievement to what will advance your career.
posted by acoutu at 7:46 PM on June 1, 2008

Do you have a significant equity stake in the company? That's all that matters: everything else is just bullshit. If you have equity, then the only metric that matters is profit (and ultimately, the exit strategy). You want to make money. The other stuff, the metrics, the performance reviews, the titles, and the at-a-boys are just for wage slaves.
posted by thomas144 at 8:15 PM on June 1, 2008

It sounds to me like you may be looking to your work performance to define a bit too much of your sense of self-worth. It also sounds like you're looking externally, to your CEO, to define the value of your work performance, and he's not the type to do so automatically. Then, you're looking for metrics to be the way he does that (and I agree with previous posters that your particular work situation doesn't sound like one where metrics would make a whole lot of sense). There are other ways to get the feelings you're seeking.

Even assuming for now that you're still going to get your self-worth through work and that it's going to have to come externally from the CEO (and those are assumptions you might want to work more on at some point), ask for feedback instead of metrics. He sounds unskilled in stroking his employees, so be explicit. E.g., "I feel frustrated and disappointed when I work so hard, do what I think is great work, and then I don't hear from you anything about how you think I'm doing. It would mean a lot to me to know that you appreciate my contributions. What would be a good way for me to get the feedback I need?"

Your CEO also sounds more passive than you about the business. You can either accept that and be the active one instead of looking to him for answers, figure out specifically what you need from him and ask for it, as above, or leave if it's too frustrating for you there.

Finally, the way you've worded this question suggests the possibility that what you really want might be a concrete way to demonstrate that the single mom with the young child isn't working as much as you. If she's performing up to the standards that the company needs, don't worry about her hours. If she's not, and you have a stake in the company, then bring that up. If she's not, but it's only up to the CEO, then let him decide what to do about it.
posted by daisyace at 4:21 AM on June 2, 2008

This sounds more like you are frustrated by the limitiations of your company's capacity for growth, counter to popular belief these things are not inherent to business practice, a lot of people are happy just getting by and your CEO might be one of them. You sound hard-working and ambitious, maybe it's time to move on?

If you do stay, you're probably going to have to manage this yourself. It sounds like your boss just doesn't know how to do this (and why would he, he's not an HR professional!) Performance reviews usually mean the setting of annual goals, with clear milestones for progress. So in terms of metrics you need to set a few annual targets with associated goals and milestones for sign-off at regular intervals, maybe by quarterly review.

I don't know your line of business so can't help with the specific metrics but try Googling around for a performance review template (there are many flavours out there), so I'd recommend using one for inspiration. Present your boss with it and ask for a review. Take notes, write up a set of goals for moving forward, get him to sign them off and then hard schedule a set of dates for review points. Documentation is key, but you'll need to keep him on track by being consistent yourself (e.g. Don't change the goals etc half way through the process!).

If he doesn't want to manage you this way, there's not a lot you can do and you'd be best off sucking it up or moving on. Three years is a good chunk of experience and you've successfully bridged the leap between academia and business (not an easy task!), why not look around for other opportunities. A larger company would provide you with more structured performance and appraisal, and hiring staff will be impressed by your initiative. Don't stay with an organisation you've outgrown.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:56 AM on June 3, 2008

« Older Cologne Filter   |   Cheap Beans, Rich Flavor. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.