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.