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I watched the young manager reach my table at the restaurant where we usually met for a chat. Even from a distance I could see he was looking rather downcast. My observation was confirmed the moment he sat down.

Almost ignoring my preliminary remarks, he said with some emotion ” I have got a measly raise. Is that all I am worth”? He went on to say that he had expected much more. How much he had contributed to the organization etc etc.

There was obviously a mismatch between his perception of his work and contributions and that of his boss! In the course of our conversation I asked him to reflect on the following:

  • To what extent and how often had he genuinely excelled?
  • How was his performance in relation to that of his colleagues/peers?
  • How significant were his specific contributions to the team’s overall performance?
  • What had he done which was significantly beyond what most people in his job would do?

He started off with a vigorous explanation of all that he had done. After sometime, it became evident that he didn’t have strong answers to these questions. I reminded him that his performance was by no means bad- but not great either!

Your true worth depends not only on what work you do but how you do it. Excellence cannot be achieved without both expertise and dedication. Not going beyond the ordinary, doing what most others do and not showing strong initiative to perform and get ahead are sure shot ways of getting the kind of increase that almost everyone gets.

To his credit, he accepted ( although reluctantly) that he could have done more and better work. Rewards are not a factor of your experience , education or title. They flow on the strengths of your specific contributions. Even in activities performed by a team, one can make out the contributions of each team member. Not all perform the same way.

I left him with the thought that in a world driven by competition, it was no loner adequate to do what you are supposed to do ( millions are doing that every day). You are to do what very few do.

Show the kind of spark and the results that sets you apart from others.

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This is the 80 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

 

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