Understand “The Numbers” in Your Job: Part 1

Numbers_GetInformed_August2011_web When crafting a résumé, preparing for a performance review, or reporting in the weekly staff meeting, knowing what key metrics are used to measure the performance of your company and your job is critical. It can be easy to detach yourself from company figures and reports, especially if you don’t see how your job impacts critical measurements. In a changing economy, understanding benchmarks of success and current checkpoint data can help you gauge the future direction of a company. This can be important if you’re evaluating companies to work for, or if you’re curious about the state of your current employer. In this three part series of on understanding the numbers in the workplace we’ll talk about how to tackle the numbers that relate to success in your career.

Get Informed
You’ve likely heard that knowledge is power, and when it comes to knowing your company’s sales figures and production reports, that definitely holds true. Taking time to understand how your company measures success and what records it has achieved will help you see the bigger picture of your organization. This type of information is also good to research before an interview and can be the basis for questions you may want to ask a potential employer. If you are currently employed, try checking out your company intranet or employee newsletter for this type of data. You could also ask your manager about company measurements. Chances are, they’ll be impressed with your desire to better understand the organization. When researching potential employers, check out the media relations section of their corporate website for news or earnings releases.

Find Meaning in the Numbers
For any sort of data to have meaning, you need something to measure it against. For example, if you type 42 words per minute, it’s important to know that the average ratefor transcription typing is 33 words per minute and an average professional typist achieves 50 to 80 words per minute. Without knowing what you’re measuring your skill against, it’s hard to know how good it is. Ask your manager what the standard is in production timelines and what the company is currently averaging. You can seek information about records set in your own company, maybe the highest sales figure for a quarter or largest client order. Those measurements can have additional perspective if, for example, you know your top two competitor companies and what their figures are for highest sales in a quarter. 

Up next in this series we’ll discuss how you measure your own performance and  why it’s important to your career that you celebrate your measured success.

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