The Possiblity Thinkers Creed
When faced with a mountain
I will not quit.
I will keep on striving
until I climb over,
find a pass through,
or simply stay and
turn the mountain
into a gold mine!
With God’s help!
(Courtesy: Robert H. Schuller)
Hello dear Readers, last week I started a series on learning to love your job as a palliative in minimising risks. Having looked at the various reasons people give for working and wanting to work, coupled with so many stresses and challenges faced, there is a need to take a decision: quit or learn to like/love your job. Even in the advanced countries where there are more employment opportunities, people feel forced to stay on for the sake of their needs and wants – how much more so in our part of the world, where jobs are virtually non-existent and counted as life-boats to survival! Even the economy and increasing unemployment figures are so scary that many employees have little say in voicing their concerns.
I also started listing some of the stresses on the job associated with working in financial institutions, which if not managed well can cause risks, fraud and even job losses. Many bankers find themselves going through the motions just to get by. I find this a very disturbing trend. Having looked at some difficulties of young entrants into banking – performing the role of tellers, sales and marketing, and loan officers – I will look at a few others and then set the ball rolling on ways one can learn to love one’s job.
I believe there is a global misconception about being a bank manager, or rather a branch manager. I may be wrong, but until one actually works in a bank there is a tendency to believe that every bank or branch manager is rich. Why do I say so? The old-time banking systems were manually operated, and therefore becoming a manager obviously required long years and experience on the job – so, usually, middle-aged persons were branch managers. They were usually arm-chair managers, waiting for customers to bring in their deposits, requests for loans, and queue at the secretary’s waiting room to have a chance of meeting him or her. In fact, they really played the role of managing directors in their branches.
Looking after all the cash in the vault creates an impression among the general public that the manager is rich. What stress is there about this perception? I hope nobody is ‘listening’, Ha Ha. It seems you are expected to give more donations during fundraising at church, attend all society functions – and again give generously. Relatives make frequent visits to their office and homes to discuss financial problems, expecting that you will dip your hands into the bank’s coffers! There is pressure from members of the opposite sex for friendship and its attendant expectations. Although recently branch managers are found within the age of late twenties and thirties, these misconceptions are still prevalent among many people. Numerous young managers feel stressed when they also believe that they should match these expectations – and when they do so, they eventually find themselves in trouble.
The SWOT Analysis
Before we start judging our jobs, can we perform a SWOT analysis of our current jobs? Let us look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
For a special reason, I will treat the negative issues first (threats and weaknesses).
- The Weaknesses/Threats
I have already listed some negatives or stressors that one may find within certain functional roles in a financial institution. However, when you take a second look, ask yourself whether there is no job without stress. One person’s stressor may be another person’s motivation to press on. Do you know the purpose of the adrenalin rush in our bodies? I am not a medical person, but sometimes the targets and the seemingly impossible demands on the job have the effect of training us to be stronger, more focused, more strategic and more results-oriented. Sometimes when you sit down and look back at some “mountains of stresses” which you found yourselves confronted with, you now smile, knowing that it was rather a gift to you which prepared you for higher roles in your career path.
- The Strengths and Opportunities
Can you find some advantages or things about your job that make you smile, at least occasionally? Come on, don’t be stingy. At least, you get a stipend on payday to make you also feel like a ‘somebody’. It’s better than sitting at home. In identifying the opportunities that one may come across on the job, ask yourself these questions:
- What is in it for me?
- Where do I want to be in the next five years?
- Is the job a stepping-stone? In what way?
- Are there any lessons to be gained from my present job which I can use in future? Is this position going to have an impact on my future plans?
- Who am I working with? What are they like? Can they partner me in my career path?
- What is my boss like?
- Is he a leader or a just a boss?
- What can I do to get a good appraisal?
- Am I ready to assist others?
Branch Banking Experiences
Teller: Are you a teller? Do you appreciate the advantages and skills that you take away from your experience which will be useful in future? Don’t under-rate the skills and benefits attached that come into play as you work – communication skills, inter-personal relationships, organisational skills, tolerance for demanding customers, problem-solving skills, genuine friendship with some customers, networking – and even referrals for better jobs elsewhere!
Secretary: Your role is becoming less visible in the branch banking set-up. However, the following skills come into play – organisational skills, time management, management of the boss, communication skills, telephone skills, office practice and administrative skills.
National Service Person: Don’t over-hype yourself. You are straight from school with a lot of vim and vigour and plenty of theoretical knowledge. Come down and learn the basics of the job. Your communication and interpersonal skills are the ‘litmus-test’ of your attitude. Don’t look down on photocopying and filing of documents. Read the correspondence and documents being filed, and learn how reports are written. After all, you need to communicate your reports in the Queen’s language and not your ‘pidgin English’.
Client Service/Personal Banker:
You are the face of the bank. Your countenance can make a customer come into your bank and decide to stay, or go away and never return. Despite the sedentary nature of the job and the long hours with customers, do you enjoy meeting new people? Are you pleasant? What is your human relations like? Are you customer-oriented? Don’t forget, the customers can be your referrals. It is a small world. You will meet them one day in unimaginable places. When the scales turn, how will you feel – embarrassed or proud?
The Supervisor and Branch Manager
Are you a leader or a boss? Do you have the requisite people-skills? Learn the art of combining all the HR skills of a leader. Being a leader involves time management, counselling, coaching, mentoring, prayer leader, listening and communication skills.
I have attempted to look at both sides of the coin for bankers – the good sides, the stresses, opportunities and areas requiring improvement. Next week, I will attempt some recommendations for trying to like or love your job. It will definitely be a palliative in risk management. Don’t regret your choice of jobs.
TO BE CONTINUED…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies for training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.