TL;DR: I love the flexibility at my job, but I'm a recent grad with no mentor and unable to quantify performance.

Some Background:

I'm a recent grad working at a small startup focused on research and development. This is my first gig, and I've been here for a little over a year. My supervisor has immense domain knowledge, but suffers from being spread too thin across the company and doesn't have time/energy to mentor me.


Since I've been hired, I've taken the initiative and implemented a few design tools to help us in our R&D work. I work as a researcher, and I'm having trouble quantifying my own performance. My job is flexible, but maybe a little too flexible - I have no KPIs with which to quantify my own performance and that is raising doubt.

Since I don't produce anything besides ideas and reports, I don't have anyway to quantify my performance. I am considering asking my boss and/or director for a PIP, but I'm wondering if there are things that this community can recommend I can ask of myself instead.

  • 2
    A brief analysis of what the tools you implemented helped others doing their business vs what would be the case if they didn't have these tools, is a valid KPI in my opinion. It will clearly show a increase in performance of others, which means more work with less headcount. One of the pillars in Holy Grail of corporate efficiency. Just a food for thought
    – MelBurslan
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 21:09
  • @MelBurslan, thanks for the comment. Making the case that something wasn't possible before my contribution is beneficial, although it's more difficult to quantify. I guess that's part of the game.
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 8:57
  • @JoeStrazzere, after some reading here on SE, I thought a PIP was just a concentrated effort in optimizing your contribution to a company - not necessarily making a do-or-die scenario. Is there a more neutral term for that kind of short-term analysis?
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 8:59

2 Answers 2


Can you account for the activities you have been doing and how they are directly related to your job?

I keep a record of the tasks I accomplished daily so I can reference it in the future. My company has business objectives everyone must meet and I use this list to populate why my work fulfills these objectives. I include physical tasks like completing this part of a project or subjective tasks like brainstorming an idea and how it impacted our business result.

You can always describe why your research is relevant to the business when someone asks. A story works as well as a metric to describe your performance, even if it takes longer to communicate.

You are an idea generator and spend time thinking of new and better ways to improve the business. As @MelBurslan mentioned in the comments, you can reference the physical results of an idea you generated and implemented if management demands a concrete metric.

  • 1
    I do a morning planning of all the tasks on my plate, and keep tabs on completion over time as well. With respect to business objectives, I will work on making my contributions to my colleagues' work more well-defined. No one has asked, this is just something I want to make more concrete for myself. If I believe my own story, I have no problem selling it to a colleague or my boss.
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 9:28
  • My coworker and I use trello to track our work and better collaborate on shared tasks. It's hard to argue with 50+ completed tasks in one month between two people; it's a quantity you can point to during a review. I also find it helpful to review what I have done before a meeting with my manager; it gives me a confidence boost in what I have accomplished.
    – Marion
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 0:20

You must ask your boss/supervisor. Only he can give you an objective opinion and some areas to improve on. The key is to work on critical /important stuff. Tools is alright but expertise is gained by working on complex/critical stuff which not only need development skills but other skills.( e.g domain knowledge, customer interaction etc )

  • Howdy @Learner_101, thanks for the answer. Similar to my comment above, making the case that a new tool allowed for deeper product knowledge is definitely great - albeit a bit difficult to quantify.I think my question was how to quantify the contribution of multiple different tools, so that I could better optimize my role in the company. With so many ways to spend your time in a day, I wanted to find a way to optimize my efforts that would maximize my contribution to my company.
    – cbcoutinho
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 9:12

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