6 Performance Indicators to Monitor Your Engineering Career

Engineering organizations use measures to ensure alignment with strategy and to ensure success. Why not do the same with your engineering career?

“What gets measured gets improved.” – Robert Sharma

You’re probably familiar with performance indicators when it come to business.  It’s even probable that you track some yourself in your engineering career.  Many engineers involved in project management and design use them to keep track of project performance from concept through close-out.

But have you considered using performance indicators to monitor your engineering career?

Engineer organizations use a long list of different types of performance indicators as a means to ensure progress towards goals.  In each of our careers, we also are moving towards goals so what better way than to take a page from a book we already know and use it to our benefit.

Measuring to Ensure Success

The rationale behind measuring performance towards goals in our engineering career is simple:  our brains can’t tell the difference between what we have and what we want.  Psychology studies have shown that people incorporate their goals into their identity immediately on establishment.  This is good because it means that we generate a strong affinity for the work we do towards an objective we feel strongly about.  But it can be bad when we fail to achieve the goal, because our brains associate non-achievement with loss of something valuable.

We want to avoid falling short of our goals and this is where performance indicators can play a helpful role.  By measuring our performance towards goals, we can maintain a hand on the steering wheel a foot on gas, or brake, for making minor adjustments in alignment and rate.  Without the performance indicators, you have no way of knowing where you are in relation to where you want to be.

As engineers, that’s never good.  We like to have quantifiable data to work with.

Network Value.  Our networks are one of the most valuable assets we hold.  What’s the value of yours?  It’s difficult to measure, however, it’s easy to determine if the one you have is of value the moment you’re out of a job or you need assistance because of a life emergency.  One way to measure your network’s valuation is the number of connections you might have in LinkedIn, the professional social media platform.  But a better measure is the percentage of those LinkedIn connections you communicate with over a period of time.  Why?  Because a passive network is barely better than no network at all.  You want yours to be active, because that is how people will know who you are, what is happening in your career, and a little about your character, how you think, and how you operate.  These are all useful data points for others to use when you need to reach out for an assist.  Measure:  % LinkedIn connections Interacted With Past X months

Continuous Learning.  As engineers we are required to continually learn new material within our profession to keep current.  This learning process is also closely linked with achieving the goals of the P.E., a university degree, or a certification.  Measure:  

  1. % PDH’s complete for annual P.E. requirement

  2. % of effort directed towards PE/degree/certification

Project Performance.  This measure is closely related to the same metric you might bump-up against in your work.  Here you’re measuring details associated with the project such as completion status with regards to need date or resource allocation.  Measure:

  1. % resources (time, money) expended vs. planned

  2. % project complete (in context of need date)

Client (Boss) Satisfaction.  This is a spin on ‘customer satisfaction’ and tailored to the individual.  Measure:  % favorable client reaction to deliverable

Quality.  Another measure used in most engineering organizations co-opted for individual use.  Measure:  % of resources (time/money) due to preventable mistakes, quality control

Goal Orientation.  The purpose of any of these measures is to keep us on vector.  This performance indicator uses one element that is most easily measured when looking across a portfolio of goals – time.  Measure:  % of effort (time/money) directed towards value-adding goals

Avoiding the potential negative career impacting, and psychological consequences of not achieving goals takes focus and commitment.  Writing goals down is the first key action that will help.  Measuring performance towards the goals achievement is the second.


1. Hawkins, Mike. “Leadership Alignment Assessment.” Data Governance (2012): 223. Alpine Link Corporation. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.

2. Kegler, Anna. “The Psychology of Goal Setting.” The Data Point. R.J. Metrics, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.

Christian Knutson, P.E., PMP is a leadership coach and strategy consultant who works with engineers and A/E/C organizations to incorporate leadership into everything they do in order to generate excellence.  His works are found here, as well as on The Engineering Career Coach blog, The Engineering Career Coach and Civil Engineering podcasts, and General Leadership, providing expert insight informed by over 21 years of experience on the topics of leadership, management, strategy, and productivity.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Category:   “Jobs” must always select this category!

Tags:  performance, goal achievement, career success, measurement