Excelling in your career today is essentially measured by your performance in the workplace and achievement of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Most employers have now shifted to performance-based remuneration and reward systems that are linked to KPIs.

These systems are often based on very clearly defined responsibilities, accountabilities and objectives to meet the employer’s mission and goals. They are even linked indirectly or discreetly to organisational commitment and organisational citizenship behaviour.

In essence, your expected performance, your behaviour at work and the outcomes you are required to achieve are defined in your KPIs, which are ultimately linked to your rewards and perks.

In achieving your KPIs, it is important to understand what exactly are your responsibilities, accountabilities and objectives at work. In this respect, it is important to clarify with your boss any ambiguities in your work scope, responsibilities and accountabilities.

If targets are poorly framed, get them clearly defined. Besides establishing that the work performance and outcomes demanded of you are specific, clear and mutually agreed upon between you and your boss, do ensure that they are realistically achievable in the set time-frame.

In defining your KPIs, it is also important to ensure they are appropriate, within your capabilities and related to your position, work scope and area of work coverage.

The focus of the KPIs and performance expected from you should be measurable in terms of quality and quantity.

Most importantly, they must be realistically and humanly achievable by you in the time frame agreed upon. Even if they are stretch goals, they must be within reach of any other person comparable to you in terms of experience, expertise and competency.

In discussing KPIs and setting standards of work performance to be achieved, you should also discuss with your boss the specific action plan and the resources to be made available to you, including the financial and manpower budgets.

While targets are easy to set, reaching them needs time, energy, effort, resources, both human and material, plus a provision for the unexpected. If the specific action plan has not been discussed nor the issue of resources addressed well, you may just not achieve your KPIs — no matter how much effort and energy you put in.

It is important to discuss the manpower to be available to you as productivity is an important consideration in most organisations. With manpower and talent often being sourced globally, you need to factor in the time and energy needed to weld together your diverse team, so that it functions like a well-oiled machine.

If the team members do not work well together, the best laid plans and strategy are doomed to failure. Recognise the importance of diversity in a globalised work world. Therefore, you may even want to have a say in the selection of your team members.

Achieving your KPIs is not simply about motivating yourself to perform. It should also provide you with an opportunity to grow and develop your skills and competencies.

Although performance-based systems and KPIs invariably involve discussions about bonus, perks, benefits and annual increments, do not lose sight of the fact that your work must provide you with opportunities to develop your career too.

The work and projects assigned to you must contribute to helping you move up to the next level in your career aspirations.

Succeeding in today’s work world needs a good grasp of other factors that drive performance too. Just because you have good skills, high competency levels and excellent qualifications, it does not mean success will follow.

Success today also depends on situational and circumstantial factors besides your ability to blend in well. Your key “inputs” include using your business and tacit knowledge and know-how, optimising your resources and orchestrating your team to perform.

Excelling in your career and achieving KPIs is about being prepared, planning well ahead, working hard intelligently and doing the right things in the right way at the right time. Of course, if opportunity and luck come knocking, they will give you the tailwind to move faster to achieve success.

Article by Kamal Kant, a part-time lecturer in Careers, Employment Relations and Management courses at Nanyang Technological University and SIM Global Education. He conducts career workshops and career coaches in his spare time.