Managing diverse personalities in the office to minimise risk (2)

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” – Mother Teresa



Hello Readers, the inability of some managers to manage the people they work with effectively results in errors, omissions, fraud and eventually losses to the bank. As mentioned last week, the success of a bank depends greatly on managing risk and managing people. Many a time, one finds very hardworking and enthusiastic persons placed as managers over a group of people with various personality types, backgrounds and beliefs. A study of these groups of people helps solve the jigsaw puzzle that they are confronted with.

New managers always find themselves in a fix when they realise that their success no longer depends on their individual efforts, but rather on a combination of every team-members’ efforts. Gone are the days when you were able to meet or even exceed your sales targets and felt on top of the world.

Now, you have to be assessed based on every team-member’s ability to meet targets, performance, profitability etc. Nothing comes easy. You cannot easily push people around like a jigsaw puzzle to achieve your targets or meet deadlines. This time, you have to study the various personalities and actually ‘play chess’ with them according to their strengths and weaknesses.

Last week, we went down memory-lane to revise a few theories on personality types, temperaments to understand ourselves as managers as well as study the various traits that make people behave the way they do, so as to understand and work better with them.

Why don’t you ask your staff to take one of the many free online personality-type assessments on the Internet? Choose a reliable personality type assessment, email them a link to the test, and ask them to print out the results for a professional development session on how personality affects the workplace dynamic. They’ll learn more about themselves, and you’ll be able to find out what motivates the people that drive your business. Remember, however, that these theories are guidelines to human understanding and the categories are not cast in stone.


Personality Test

Are you a Type A or Type B personality type? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Are you a task-oriented or self-oriented person? Do you have a sanguine, melancholic, choleric or phlegmatic temperament?

Basic knowledge about this psychology of the human mind is a prelude to the hypothetical case of a bank that depicts the jigsaw puzzle of personality types and to which a new Manager has been assigned to manage. Please note that the names and characters used are purely fictional, and any resemblance to a real-life case is purely coincidental.

Capricorn Bank

Capricorn Bank is a universal bank in Ghana that has been in existence for twenty-two years. The Essipong branch is one of the pioneer branches opened twenty years ago. It was a thriving and profitable branch until five years ago. It has been facing many difficulties and running losses for the past three years. Investigations showed that although the branch has a good manning level made up of ten persons, deposit levels continues to fall, loans have a high default rate, and there were numerous complaints from customers about bad customer service as well as unprofessional attitude of the staff. During the past three years six staff have resigned from the bank to work at other nearby banks in the town, and worker agitation is high.  There have been two internal fraud cases and three external fraud cases, which has greatly affected the bank’s bottom line. Losses incurred over the past three years in the branch alone totalled GH¢105,000.

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Mr. Alfred Boateng, has been transferred from Head Office to replace Mr. Oko Dagadu, who has been transferred to the Audit Department. Alfred is a thirty-four year-old with a Masters’ degree in Banking and Finance, and a first degree in Sociology, who worked with another bank for three years before joining Capricorn. He was a Relationship Manager and was noted in the bank for exceeding his sales targets, good selling skills and excellent human relations.  He is married with one child and generally well-liked by colleagues. He had mixed feelings upon his promotion to be a branch manager, because he knew all eyes would be on him to turn the Essipong branch around.

Personalities at Essipong Branch

Let us look what the Essipong branch staff are made up of. What are their backgrounds, general behaviour and attitudes toward work? I will give you a little info about each one of them and let us see how Alfred can decipher some of these things as he relates with them in their daily branch activities.

Osei-Broni, Operations Manager

Forty-seven years old, father of three with HND and Chartered Banker certification. He started his banking career straight from High School, rising through the ranks while pursuing his academic ambitions in the evenings and at week-ends. He has over twenty-five years work experience in various branch routines, but has a phobia of public speaking and his communication skills leave much to be desired.

However, when given banking operations functions to execute, he does them with dispatch and has an eye for details. He was transferred to Essipong six months ago. He is not too enthusiastic about meeting targets, and more into getting the branch operation functions executed with minimal errors and within time.

Clarissa, Client Service Officer

A young lady of twenty-seven with a first degree, and who completed her National Service with the bank two years ago. She comes from a wealthy home and has led a sheltered life where everything is done for her (a real Dadabee). She is very pretty and dresses well to suit demands of the job. She is very jovial and enjoys flattery from the customers. She is on good terms with all staff and quite easy-going.

On the other hand, she is quite careless with her work and not very risk-conscious in her dealings at the front desk, and needs constant supervision. But why did the bank place her in such a sensitive position? The rumour from the grapevine is that her father is a good friend of the bank’s Board Chairman. Oh my!

Esther, Client Service Assistant

A thirty-seven-year-old mother of two with HND Marketing qualifications, she has previous experience in teller and back-office operations. She has worked in the bank for twelve years and recently been transferred from another branch. She is quite professional on the job, but recently she is not happy. She has been wondering why she has to work under an inexperienced person like Clarissa.

Is it because she is not a university graduate and is one grade below Clarissa? She feels the bank has not treated her fairly, and she is not prepared to refer issues to her. She prefers to work only under the branch manager. After all, she is married to a very rich and popular businessman who takes good care of her. Sometimes she feels that she does not really have to work for the peanuts being given her.

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Kwame, Sales Executive

A twenty-seven-year-old university graduate who has been outsourced through United Services Company and is on contract for two years, Kwame is aggressive, self-oriented and ambitious, and is keen to achieve his targets at whatever cost. He does not mind overlooking some difficult KYC issues during account-opening, so long as he can meet the targets and get his commissions.

He plans to save a lot of money to enable him pursue his Masters’ degree within the next few years. There are so many temptations coming his way for him to make some big money. The ‘sakawa’ boys or confidence tricksters are trying to offer him a big proposal to make some big money. He is boisterous and has big dreams of becoming a CEO in his own company within the next eight years.

Adisa, Sales Executive

Adisa is a twenty-six-year-old university graduate who is highly religious but found herself accepting the sales job purely out of need. It is not easy these days to get the job one really wants. She is not keen on marketing because she is not the outgoing type. She is a very beautiful lady, with typical African Black-Beauty features. She is also very well-mannered and, being a Moslem lady, she finds meeting strangers – especially men – very uncomfortable.

She sometimes sees non-Moslems look at her strangely when they meet her for the first time in her ‘Hijab’, covering her head and neck. With time she is getting used to the initial stares, and despite the obvious distraction caused by her voluptuous figure she has been trying to get customers to listen to what she says rather than focusing on how she looks. Can you believe a naughty but big-time prospective customer asked her to remove her hijab to enable him admire her fully before opening an account? She never went back! Adisa is very reflective and analytical, and finds the sales function very stressful. She would prefer to work as an analyst, or perform back-office functions where she can work quietly without interruption from customers.

Dear Readers, I will stop here and continue next week with the rest of the staff which Alfred the branch manager has to work with. Remember, we can only choose our friends and not our workmates. The system also may not allow a manager to just get up and start shuffling staff around. There may be ways of managing various personalities if one learns the reason why people behave the way they do. Perhaps the Manager’s  Sociology background may be of use. Let’s see what Alfred does.






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 ethics and fraud.



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