Most people believe that they should be making more money than they are, and that they are entitled to promotions. In today’s competitive job market, you have to be better than average – a lot better. In order to do that, and to command the promotions and higher pay to go with it, you have to step up and be better. That means knowing how to improve your job situation and income; improving yourself and your skills, your relationships within your company, and your ability to help your company be more successful in a highly competitive world.

How can you do that?

Get closer to your boss

It’s been said that 51% of your success on any job is your relationship with your boss. Given that that relationship is so critical to your success, it’s well worth the effort to improve it.

Get to know your boss on a personal level. Find out what’s going on in his or her life particularly if those events may be having an effect on his or her job. You’re not being nosy, you’re just putting a human face on your most important coworker. When we see people as human beings, and not just professional associates, the relationship becomes deeper in both a personal and a business way.

As much is possible, try to view your department and your job from the bosses point of view. Find out what his goals are, what he hopes to accomplish, what his biggest problems are, and where he hopes to bring the department. Get on the same page, and do your best to help him accomplish his goals. When he sees that your goals are to help him to achieve his goals, he may take a keener interest in your development as an employee.

Integrate better with you co-workers

Every company, every department, has problems that need to be solved. And all too often the outcome however, is blaming coworkers. No group of people is ever perfect, so resolve that you are going to be one of the problem solvers. By positioning yourself as a “go to person“, rather than as one of the common complainers, you become a bigger asset to the entire department. Eventually that should raise your market value within the company.

No one gets anywhere in the organizational world without a few allies. While it’s true that many of your coworkers may be difficult or even impossible to get along with, they are nonetheless a natural source of potential allies. Consciously work to help them do their jobs better, and to even out imbalances in the workflow and to reduce stress in the office.

The more of your coworkers who see you as a positive force in the department, the more recognition you’ll get from the higher-ups. That will eventually take you to better places.

Focus on your key functions

Most jobs today require a good deal of multitasking. But your job almost certainly has one or two functions that are considered critical to the position. No matter how many functions you perform, your success on your job will rise or fall based on your performance in those one or two primary functions.

If you are in sales, your most important function will be your sales production. If you are a lawyer or an accountant, it may be billable client hours. Whatever the critical function is, this is the area that needs to get most of your attention.

In order to get higher pay or a promotion, you’ll have to excel in those one or two areas that represent the primary purpose for your position. That may mean pulling back or letting go of lesser functions.

Sharpen your skills

In just about any career or job, education and training should never end. Knowledge of business conditions changes over time, but so do technologies and relationships. In order to keep your own skills current, your training will need to be ongoing.

This may require that you get extra training outside of your job, if equivalent training is not provided by your employer. It can also mean developing additional contacts outside of your company, which can raise both your production and your market value to your employer.

Learning equals growing, so never stop learning. Do it and you can to be the expert in your department or your company.

Keep up with the big picture

Every business operates in a bigger environment. It can be economic, social, or even political. Competition and technological advances outside the company can have a profound effect on what goes on inside the company. By staying on top of those developments, you put yourself in a position to help your employer stay competitive. You are not only aware of what is happening, but you also have solutions to help guide your company through the outside developments.

In today’s complex economy, it’s not enough to rely on your boss to deal with issues beyond your department or in your company. To the degree that you’re able to keep your employer competitive in the industry, your own market value will rise.

Embrace the big picture taking place beyond the walls of your company, and you’ll have a greater impact on inside. That will earn you the respect of your superiors and your coworkers, and establish you as a leader worthy of better things.

Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.