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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to deliver the outputs beyond your current job?

I read this interesting article in TOI that explains the difference in compensation of the professionals who constantly improve their capabilities. I was surprised to observe that small difference in the increment ( 15% for high performers visavis 5% for average performers) over a period of 35 years of working life can create a massive difference of 19 crores between a high performer and an average performer. And if both performers invests 30% of their income every year in various investments, that can result into a huge difference of 875% between the earnings of average and high performers. A simple math can show this difference.

But the key input in differentiating between average and high performers is not high academic credentials or the college from which you pass. It is not innate intelligence or ability. Neither is it 'technical knowledge or skill' ( which many graduates assume when they are passing from their colleges) about the subject matter. Nor is it about 'knowing the top bosses'. All these abilities could be important for a while, but are not the key to sustained improvement over a long period.

The key to sustain constant improvement (to justify 15% increase in salary every year') is delivering outputs that are beyond your current job. 

So here are five steps in delivering outputs beyond your current job

Step 1. List down the metasysems of your job

Metasystems are systems on whom you depend ( or who depend on you ) for getting key inputs/resources for your work- performance.

If you are working in sales in a pharma company, you depend on marketing ( for its marketing schemes both above the line and below the line), Finance ( credit limits for retail outlets) and you internal sales department's inputs ( which product to sell more, which geography will have higher sales budget), product development department ( who has developed a new product which is being tested in your territory). Finance department also depends on your 'collection target' achievement, while product development depends on your inputs in their product development efforts. So in certain cases, the dependencies are 'mutual. 

Step 2. Understand the purpose and criteria with which the metasystems are evaluating your work performance or depending on you to improve their work performance

Your sales metasystem is depending on achieving your 'total sales target', while finance is depending on your achieving your 'collection target', while product development depends on achieving your 'new product target'. It is important to understand the underlying 'purpose' of these metasystems, and the criteria by which they evaluate your work-performance. 

Step 3. Identify the constraints and supports that each metasystem is offering to improve your visible work performance

While sales metasystem is offering 'sales budget' as a support, marketing system is offering the 'marketing budget'. Product development may be offering 'extended budget', while finance may be offering 'good collection discounts' 

On the other hand, they also offer constraints. For instance, sales metasystem has the constraint of meeting 'x doctors a day' or 'three towns a month'. Marketing system has the constraint of promoting 'x' product more than 'y', which may be beneficial or harmful for your territory sales. 

Step 4. Identify the leverages ( within the constraints and support tools) that you can manoever

For instance, one can make three doctors' calls in a day by meeting 'three proximous doctors in a town', so that one can spend more time with a new doctor to get more mileage. Or one can use the marketing budget differently, say by offering more 'sales schemes' in one town and more 'off the shelf promos' in another town. Or one can meet the overall collection target, by targeting 'A' distributors. 

Step 5. Actively work with the perceptions of metasystem to ensure that your work performance is recognised

Each metasystem is evaluating you, although sales metasystem's evaluation is the more important one. Evaluation is often 'subjective' and based on perception

For instance, one has to be smart enough to sense that 'marketing' has more clout in designing a promotion scheme and use that knowledge judiciously to 'side' with marketing so that one's sales budgets can also be met. Or focus on meeting the target of product development in your territory ( because you are not able to meet your territory's target) and borrow 'additional time' to meet your sales targets. In other words, it is important to actively work with the perceptions of different metasystems. 


Delivering outputs beyond job is focussing on long term. Only by working on long term one can build those requisite long lead-time skills necessary in the future. Please remember that some skills develop fast and some at a slow rate. In order to ensure that your long term work performances is sustained, you have to build the long lead-time skills in time. If you are not prepared for this, it is double whammy for you: you miss the opportunity that comes your way, and by not preparing for the future job, your career growth automatically stops because you cannot perform well in those jobs. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Will Sachin Tendulkar be able to contribute as MP?

In a corporate field, these transitions from one role to another are common: moving from salesman to sales manager, sales manager to Marketing manager, GM Maintenance to GM production or VP Servicing to VP Governance. One of the roadblock required to negotiate such a transition is to adopt new skillset of the new role in a short time-window.

When a person shifts from one role to another, he can contribute to the new role only when he lets go the 'old skill set' and moves into the new skill set. If he is unable to complete this transition, he will continue to function in the old role. For instance sales manager will continue to function as a salesman whenever 'sales challenge' is presented to him by his deputee. For instance, I know of a Sales manager who use to go on the field with his sales officer if the sales officer 'failed' to crack the deal.

This creates a double whammy. On the one hand, the deputees do not learn their skills. Because they do not learn the skills,  their dependency on the sales manager increases which consumes all the time of sales manager. And because of this, the sales manager continues to function as 'highly paid salesman' , solving the problems of his team members one after another. 

Consequently, he does not have the time to learn the new skills to perform the new role of sales manager. He is unable to develop his team to function without him. He is unable to 'espouse' the cause of his sales team with the higher management because he does not spend time in 'garnering top management support'. With all his time spend on 'doing field calls', he is unable to  synergise with his colleagues, say from marketing, to find high leverage actions that will increase the productivity of his sales team. In short, he is unable to transit into the new role of sales manager

Given these challenges in functioning in a new role, will Sachin Tendulkar be able to contribute in the new role of MP? 

Observe what Sachin Tendulkar said when he was asked how he would take time out for Parliament from his busy cricket schedule. He said, 

"I did not go to anyone asking to be a Rajya Sabha member. It is an honour and I accept that with respect. However, I am here because of cricket. I cannot take focus away from cricket because that’s where it all began for me". “I will focus on cricket and as and when I stop playing, I will look at other things and see how I can help,” he added.

Although one can hail the above sentiments, how will this mindset enable Sachin to find time to learn the new skills of being a good Member of Parliament. 

For instance, he will have to learn why and how the different challenges of sportsperson have not been addressed by the 'political system' until now. Has it been due to lack of adequate budget? Has it been due to the mindset that 'sportsman' are elite lot? Or has it been due to lack of support from other MPs? In other words, he has to plan. To plan, he has to get into the 'muck' of the action, identify what needs to be done, and what he can do ( given his constraints of time?). But all this 'understanding' itself will demand lot of time, effort and attention. And this is just the first step. 

Only after he plans his actions, he will then have to spend even 'more time' in ensuring that the parliament takes some action on his plans. This requires another set of skills: skill to bring the issues on the table, muster the support of other MPs to ensure that his issue is not put under the table, and above all use 'public and social' media to garner the necessary support to keep the issue 'hot enough. Of course, he can take help from others in doing all this, but he still has to 'spearhead' the efforts? 

Given the mindset of Sachin Tendulkar, it is upto you to judge, if he can really find the time to learn the necessary skills to take all the above actions to make his contribution as MP. Will Sachin be able to transfer his 'single-minded' devotion from cricket to the new role and tasks of MP for the time being? Although Sachin's image and record will boost the expectations of sportsman in the country, will his good intentions alone be enough to produce the desired result in the system which , everyone recognises, is a herculean task?

Given this big challenge of performing in the new role, do you honestly believe that Sachin Tendulkar will be able to find time to contribute in the new role of MP? And if Sachin is unable to perform in the new role, should we blame our unrealistic expectations or Sachin Tendulkar?