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Measuring Your Importance at Work

REVISION 10/31/2016: I made an explicit Assessment Guide with examples and revised the scoring interpretation as appropriate.

I wondered the other day if there was some anecdotal measure that can be used to attempt to quantify how important you are in the office.

I eventually came up with some measures to figure out one’s importance at work.  I’ve tried to take into consideration the nature of the work involved and all the relevant parties at stake that will influence one’s sense of importance.  Obviously whatever these measures are, these are going to be subjective and outright arbitrary.  Note that these measures operate on the premise that such items mentioned are part of the normal conduct of business, and so are expected.  If your industry doesn’t make use of such heavily, then, in this day and age, probably the work involved isn’t as important to require it, too.

Assessment Guide:

1. Factors of importance are divided into categories.  Review your work experience in the last 12 months, with emphasis on the last three months in particular, when assessing how many points you can earn for each description in each category.

2. Each category has descriptions of the category in question in varying degrees of importance, with corresponding points assigned to it for purposes of designating a measure for the same.  If you typically experience what’s described, then take the corresponding points allocated to it.  The maximum number of points you can earn for each category is 155 points – this means you experience a majority of the descriptions.

Example: Category: Tasks – Within the last several months you experience a fair amount each of what’s described except for the last item that has negative points; in this case you earn all the points, a total of 155 points, for this category.

3. Negative points become applicable if you experience what’s described at least 50% of the time in the last three months.  Such is an indication that you are trending to NOT be important in this particular category, therefore they supersede whatever points you could have earned from the other descriptions.

Example: Category: Tasks – You experience a fair amount each of what’s described, and if this continued then you would have earned the full 155 points.  However for the last three months, half of that time you were literally not given anything to do.  Because of that, you don’t earn 155 points but instead merit the -50 points for this category.

The maximum score is pegged at 930 points.

Category: Tasks

Points Description
0 You are given a task just so that you have something to do – there is no significance / impact in what’s asked of you.
+5 You are given tasks but the deadlines for such aren’t pressing.
+10 The deadline of the task(s) is (are) on the same day you get it – or worse, the deadline was yesterday.
+20 You are given more tasks than you have the time to complete them within the required deadlines.  You have more than a full workload.
+30 You are given additional work on top of the more than full workload that you already have.
+40 You get assigned to help out with the tasks of other people because they can’t complete it without you and so your help is crucial.  This is more additional work on top of your more than full workload.
+50 You are given tasks considered as “critical.”  By “critical,” this means the future of the company (and consequently your career) is dependent on it and the company needs you to make it work.
-50 You are literally not assigned any task at all.  What the hell are you doing?

Category: E-mails

Points Description
+0 You are just part of the distribution, or are copied, just for your information.
+5 The e-mail is addressed to you for your reply or action – but your response doesn’t seem pressing.
+10 The e-mail is addressed to you for your reply or action – and your response is urgent.
+20 You are expected to check and respond to e-mail outside of business hours.
+30 Despite your best efforts to get caught up in e-mail, the volume of unread you have to deal with is obstinately ridiculous.  You delete all the “noise” and still end up with a ton of important e-mail.
+40 The audience copied in the e-mails is mostly people that are part of senior management and / or the leadership team of the company.  Your response to the matter is important enough for them to see it – it should have their visibility.
+50 The e-mail is an escalation for your intervention.
-50 You are literally not getting any e-mail at all.  Translation: Nobody bothers to at least tell you anything via this channel of communication.  As a result, you don’t know what’s happening.  The only things you hear about what happens in the company are what you hear in the news instead of any internal communication; it feels like you’re not even part of the company.

Category: Calls and Texts

Points Description
+0 You get texts to inform you of something.
+5 You get texts that are asking something from you or telling you to do something – but your response doesn’t seem pressing.
+10 You get texts that are asking something from you or telling you to do something – and your response is urgent.
+20 You are called to be informed of something, asked of something, or told to do something, instead of just getting texted about it.  The matter is important enough that the person needs to talk to you immediately.
+30 You are expected to always be on call and thus never turn off your phone – even if it’s technically not required for you to be such.
+40 You get calls and texts during off hours and most especially during the late evening and early morning hours of the weekday, weekend, and holidays.
+50 You are called upon so much such that it feels like you no longer have a personal life outside of work.  You end up working, in one way or another, even during your vacation time.
-50 You don’t hear anything at all outside of official business hours – that by itself isn’t bad, but it becomes bad if out of curiosity you ask someone what’s happening in the office, but you don’t get any response.  You send a text but never receive a reply.  You try calling but no one answers.

Meetings

Points Description
+0 You are invited to meetings as an optional attendee.
+5 You are invited to meetings as a required attendee, mostly in a participative / inclusive capacity.
+10 You are invited to meetings as a required attendee to make decisions, give and set the direction, provide guidance, and related.  You get invited to meetings to resolve conflicts.
+20 You are invited to pre-meeting meetings – meetings held to prepare for the actual meeting, because the actual meeting is important enough such that this type of meeting should exist.
+30 You are invited to multiple meetings that conflict with each other in schedule and / or priority and / or objective – you are needed by a lot of people.  It’s an endless string of meetings – and the topics don’t even necessarily matter to you.  It’s hard to do any real work because the only time you have is used to attend meetings.
+40 Meeting organizers rearrange their meeting schedules to accommodate your schedule.  The meeting is cancelled because you cannot attend and there’s no other available schedule.  Nothing can happen and nothing will happen without you.
+50 E-mail is not enough.  And even a virtual meeting can no longer cut it.  Meetings with you are scheduled in person.  And if that means travel is required, then you go show up to where the meeting is held – or the people that need to talk to you show up where you are.
-50 You are not invited to any meeting at all while most if not everybody is asked to attend one or several meetings – you are intentionally excluded.

Category: Online Presence

Points Description
+0 You are expected to be online and reasonably available during business hours.
+5 People ping you for whatever reason because you have something they need.
+10 People ping you for something urgent.  They ping back and nag every so often.
+20 You experience the “Christmas Lights effect.”  Your taskbar is lighting up from multiple pings of various people – it’s a ping storm such that there’s a challenge to reply back to each one in a timely manner.
+30 The matter is important enough that people ping you to ask to talk to you live – either immediately, or at the soonest possible time, because chatting about it isn’t sufficient anymore.
+40 You are expected to be online and available all the time, literally 24 x 7, and not allowed to go on “Do Not Disturb.”
+50 People contact you via your personal instant messaging platform or on social media for work related matters.  The normal business channels of communication aren’t enough to ensure you are reachable.  Personal space has become indistinguishable from professional space, even in the online world.
-50 You are online and available but no one bothers to ping you at all – most if not all the time.  A lot of people seem to be offline even during business hours – you have been blocked!

Category: Recognition

Points Description
+0 Your output is at least acknowledged by your immediate supervisor, but nothing more.
+5 You get credit and recognition for your individual contribution, within your team, up to the management of your team.
+10 You get public recognition with the larger organization.
+20 You are rewarded with compensation that is substantial and meaningful.
+30 You have name recall with management.  Your reputation for producing good work rewards you with even more work.  If something important comes up, then it’s given to you because by doing so it’s as good as done and sure to be a success.  You get all the best career-making assignments which positions you for further future success and advancement.
+40 Your influence is such that what you say is The Law, and everybody should listen to you and comply with what you dictate.  Your opinion over certain matters is so valuable to the point that your arrogance over such is tolerated.
+50 You are credited for the work that other people put in a lot of effort for, simply because of your mere presence in the project, and not from any actual “hard” contribution to it.  Your mere association with the project is enough to give you credit for it.
-50 Expectations from you are so low such that the work given to you is commensurate to that; any output is relatively insignificant and not worthy of any mention or note.  People simply don’t care about the output you provide, even if you did something wonderful.

SCORING:

Get a total of all the points you earned in each category.  Your level of importance scales in relation to how involved you are – either by choice or otherwise – in the organization.  The higher your points, the more important you are.  And the more important you are, the more you get dragged into more work.

  • Less than 0 points: You’re useless.  Expect to be fired soon – be surprised that such hasn’t happened yet!
  • 0 points: You’re not important and are therefore expendable.
  • Between 5 – 30 points: You’re still not important, but at least not expendable – not yet.  You serve a purpose in the organization, at the very least – and likely, your purpose is also “at the very least.”
  • Between 30 to 300 points: You’re somewhat important to a certain extent, but your importance is not yet substantial enough to be considered worthy of note.  You’re someone who is almost important – emphasis on “almost.”
  • Between 300 to 900 points: At the lower end you’re just enough to be considered important – congratulations!  The higher your points, the more important you are.
  • 900 points and above: You are one of the most, if not THE most, important person in the organization.  The company will go to hell without you because you’re its lord and savior.

On a side-note: I’m starting to wonder if this line of satirical thinking is a bit of my cynical streak manifesting itself, too.

Using this point system, I conservatively rate myself at 350 points – the bare minimum to be considered “important” by these standards.  (In an earlier version of the Assessment Guide, I only earned 130 points; I wasn’t sure if I should count this as “good enough” or a cause for concern, but the new guide provides a better relative assessment.)

For what it’s worth for me, I see this as an exercise in humility, albeit in a somewhat-convoluted way.  It reminds me that no matter how important I think I am, no matter how much I think I should be given the importance I supposedly deserve, there will always be people who are substantially better than I ever will be.  These people are the more important ones in the organization that deserve whatever praise and benefits that ought to be given to people like them, especially since the stakes that involve them are so much higher.

If you ever wondered how important you are at work, then you can use this to try and measure your impact.  May the odds be ever in your favor (i.e. hope your numbers look good).

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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy
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  1. April 12, 2017 at 11:44 pm

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