06 Dec How to Catapult Your Career with a Personal Balanced Scorecard
The balanced scorecard strategic planning and management system is the brainchild of Robert Kaplan and David Norton. It was originally created as a performance measurement framework which added non-financial measures to the mix of KPIs used by leaders to give them a more balanced view of organizational performance. Over time, the balance scorecard evolved into a mechanism for taking a company’s vision out of the realm of the nebulous and weaving a strategy for achieving that vision into the fabric of the organization by defining actionable initiatives. This is done, in part, by building strategy maps that let everyone know the steps to achieve the vision as well as their part in the plan.
A corporate balanced scorecard can be created to communicate a company’s overarching business strategy then cascaded down through the organization. Cascading means that business units, departments, and teams should also have their own balanced scorecards that are aligned with the overall company scorecard so that daily activities focus on things that support the organization’s mission and vision, rather than activities within their own functional silo.
Personal Balanced Scorecards
Employee engagement is a hot topic today. Employers are constantly reminded that creating a culture that fosters engaged employees will drive improved operational performance and financial results. This is so true, but what responsibility do employees have with regard to their own engagement and success? Employee engagement is about commitment. Employers should commit to an employee’s success, but employees must also make the decision to commit to and participate in their own success as well as that of the company in order to be truly engaged. Employees should take responsibility for their own happiness, success, and contribution to the company’s success and the employer should be there supporting them every step of the way.
Whether an organization embraces a balanced scorecard approach to strategy planning and management or not, one way that employees at all levels of the organization can get in the game is to create their own personal balanced scorecard. The process of just creating a personal scorecard forces you to think about your vision for where you want to take your career. It provides the clarity and discipline that are needed to prioritize and establish parameters for you to make decisions in your daily life.
We are faced with many, many decisions every day and having a framework already built to guide your decision making can be critical, especially in times of stress. It is in those times that cortisol, the “stress” hormone, is released in our bodies. Stress is inevitable, and can result from positive or negative stimuli. Increases in cortisol levels have been reported to interfere with rational thinking. If your strategy for success is already mapped out, you are more likely to make decisions that will support the achievement of your professional vision.
The first step towards creating a personal scorecard is to articulate your vision. When developing your vision, it is important to be very thoughtful. Really examine and drill down into your initial feelings about your vision. For example, if your initial thought about your professional vision is that you want to become a CEO, ask yourself why the position is important to you. Keep asking why until you are satisfied that you have found the actual vision. For example,
I want to be CEO.
I want to be a respected leader.
I want have a positive impact on people around me.
I want to inspire people to be the best version of themselves.
In this example, if you focus on your initial vision of becoming a CEO, you are automatically limiting your options. The realization that what you really want is to inspire people around you opens up doors you may not have seen before. When you take the time to reflect and take a deep dive into what you actually want to achieve, you may find that there are other ways to get there, which could change your path entirely.
Also, be careful about using financial results to define your vision. Just as in a corporate scorecard, financial performance should be viewed as a result, not a goal. If your first stab at your vision takes to you “I want to be a millionaire in 5 years”, keep asking why. You will probably find that the final vision has nothing to do with your bank balance.
Next, identify your perspectives. A corporate balanced scorecard typically has Financial, Customer, Internal Processes, and Employee as the perspectives, or lenses through which success should be viewed. In a personal balanced scorecard, those perspectives can be modified and can include:
- Financial: In order to achieve my vision, what does my financial portfolio need to look like?
- Relationships: In order to achieve my vision, what relationships do I need to cultivate? What do those relationships look like?
- Practices: In order to achieve my vision, at which professional practices do I need to excel?
- Learning and Growth: In order to achieve my vision, what do I need to learn? What skills do I need to develop?
Objectives are areas within each perspective in which you need to focus in order to succeed. Because the lines between our personal and professional lives are increasingly blurred, personal scorecard objectives will likely cross over and include areas outside of the workplace. For example:
- Develop leadership skills (Learning & Growth perspective)
- Meet deadlines consistently (Process perspective)
- One new speaking engagement each month (Relationships perspective)
- Have a savings account to cover expenses for 6 months (Financial perspective)
To create alignment, there should be a logical connection between the objectives in the various perspectives. Also, to maintain focus, keep the number of objectives relatively small. There should typically be about 3-4 objectives within each perspective.
Initiatives are projects or tasks that need to be pursued to make progress in each of the objectives. These are things like taking a class to develop a skill or implementing a system to manage work. Prioritize your objectives and pick a manageable number of initiatives to start with. Initiatives can be managed with a workflow management system such as kanban.
Each objective should have a measure associated with it so that you can see the progress in each objective. This information should be used to make decisions about which initiatives are succeeding in moving the objective in the right direction. Measures should be as specific as possible and they should have benchmarks and targets.
In order to be effective, your personal balance scorecard should be woven into your daily life, which requires discipline, commitment, and may require that you hire a coach to keep you on track. Just as getting in shape requires that you carve out time in your life to exercise, taking control of your professional life requires an investment in creating, reviewing, and revising your personal balanced scorecard regularly. However, if done right, the ROI can be extraordinary.
Don’t wait for your employer to decide to develop you professionally. Rather, take charge of your own professional and career development. If your employer isn’t already committed to your professional success, they may just take note of your self-development and get on board. If not, you will be in a better position to take your now elevated value elsewhere as you continue in your journey towards your vision.