Dear reader, we are gradually coming to the end of this fictional story about how Alfred, the new branch manager posted to Essipong branch to turn around its negative position, attempts to leverage on the strengths of his staff to turn around the branch’s fortune. Made up of varied personalities, he placed them into two main groups for a special assignment, to enable them have a sense of belonging and tap various creative ideas in marketing, selling the bank’s products, improve service quality and recover bad loans. These were the core areas that can drive the branch’s bottom-line to a positive position. Having put them into two groups, he looked forward to the presentations they would make to their colleagues for their inputs and possibly adopt them in real practice. I hope this post will give a few insights into how managers can best approach and manage diversity in the workplace with actionable tips and advice. Let us examine some benefits of diversity in the workplace which Alfred can tap from.
Benefits to having diversity in the workplace:
Diversity within a workplace encompasses race, gender, ethnic groups, age, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, mental and physical conditions, as well as other distinct differences between people. Having a diverse workforce with multi-lingual employees and employees from varying ethnic backgrounds can also be helpful for organizations who want to expand or improve operations in international, national, regional and local markets.
- Staff from diverse backgrounds help organizations with creative new ideas and perspectives informed by their cultural experiences.
- A diverse workplace will help organizations better understand target demographics and what moves them.
- Increased customer satisfaction by improving how the staff interact with a more diverse clientele and public.
Essipong Branch Group Presentations:
Now let us see what the groups have up their sleeves. The past two weeks have been a period of excitement, competition, hushed ideas, late closings and early attendance. Now is presentation time.
Group One, made up of the two customer service staff (one, of sanguine traits, and the other, a melancholic) and the two sales staff, (one female from a conservative religious background and the gentleman with boisterous and ambitious nature). These contrasting personalities surprisingly came out with creative and positive ideas on boosting customer deposits and improving customer service. Let us look at some of their recommendations and strategies for Essipong branch.
- Storm certain segmented parts of the town to sell the bank’s products which may be applicable for their needs. For example, Adisa would make preparations with the local Imam of the town to allocate a Friday afternoon for a presentation to be made to the Muslim community after the Friday prayers. She would take the ladies group while The Branch manager and the Sales staff would also talk to the male group inside the mosque. They would even use that opportunity to share certain security and risk factors of their businesses and finances to give them assurance of the Bank’s availability to offer financial advice. The customer service staff also offered to meet their church leaders and guild leaders to arrange presentations at their various group meetings.
- They also did a sketch of how an angry customer should be professionally handled.
This presentation ended with loud laughter and congratulations from the other group. It was surprising to see Adisa playing the role of the angry customer so well that she earned the title “Madam Too known” from her colleagues. The group showed a sense of cohesion and togetherness in dealing with the branch’s concerns. Alfred felt encouraged. Now the branch was poised to incorporate these recommendations into their normal branchwork.
Group Two, comprising two Tellers, one loans officer, and the Driver also presented a realistic strategy aimed up reducing the bad losses recorded in the branch through intensive recovery efforts, as well as a plan to call or visit dormant account holders in the branch. They also included the two supervisors, Alfred and Osei-Broni. They had used google map to track the location of the customers’ workplaces and residences. With the help of Kwesi the Loans Officer, who happened to be an indigene of the town. On the other hand, Kwesi’s function had potential role conflict due to his trait of being too nice to customers and not being able to say no to them. However, the no-nonsense Mr. Hansen, with his institutional knowledge added value to the team’s ability to track down all defaulters. In addition, the Tellers who also had more contact with the customers, offered details which were beneficial to the team. They knew customers who had left town, knew the local names of customers which were not readily available to the bank. After all, only five percent of customers usually make an attempt to meet the branch manager. They feel more at home with the tellers and front-desk executives. Visiting dormant account holders was an immediate priority with the intention to bring them back into the fold. Whatever reasons they attributed to their exits, was to be noted down and worked on to avoid repetitions.
Dear reader, I hope this method chosen by Alfred gives you an idea that management is not rocket science. Personality types are not cast in stone. People’s expectations and judgements should also bear in mind that several ways can be adopted to make teams work. Even though like poles attract and unlike poles repel, it is sometimes the other way round. Managers can try several ways to make their teams work and nobody on the team should be under rated.
Personality is the key
The more managers understand about personality and the different personality types on their teams, the easier it becomes to engage and inspire team members. Don’t forget that the free on-line personality tests are helpful, but not cast in stone. As mentioned in the first series, people with strong Type A personalities may sometimes require to tone down on the risk factors to avoid cardiac problems, while those with dominant Type B personalities would also need to be more proactive and take up more opportunities to reach the top of the ladders in their career path.
Dear manager, if this is your first time of hearing this, please go to the source and ask your staff to take one of the many free online personality-type assessments on the market. 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 will also be able to find out what motivates the people that drive your business.
It will benefit the branch, department or office if a session is organized by an HR specialist to educate them about these aspects of people management and teambuilding.
For some managers, it simply means learning which personalities clash with the others and how to manage them. But for the best managers, it means understanding what motivates their team members and what makes them successful, so they can create the most productive and engaging environment to work in.
The Lighter Side
Let us look at other personality types we have in the office. Various specialists have their own set of descriptions for them. Let us see whether you fit into any of these?
Nationalpen.uk has created an infographic of 13 personality types found in every office. Which one do you belong to?
- THE PASSIVE AGGRESSOR: Complaints quietly about workload and lazy colleagues.
- THE BACK STABBER: Pretends to be your friend but reports you to management.
- THE KITCHEN SLOB: usually leaves pantry dirty after use.
- THE CHATTERBOX: Long boring chats. Everybody avoids.
- THE DELEGATOR: Does no work. Delegates everything.
- THE WORKAHOLIC: Eats and sleeps work. Aggressive, ambitious, not sociable.
- THE MEETING SCHEDULER: Always wants to schedule a meeting for everything.
- THE GOSSIPER: Thrives on office scandals whether true or not.
- THE OVERLY AMBITIOUS SUMMER INTERN: Seemed great at first but becomes a chore.
- THE DEBBIE-DOWNER: Always complaining about colleagues, work, management and policies.
- THE EMAIL OVERLOADER: Floods your email with irrelevant material.
- THE TMI SHARER: Shares unwanted and unprofessional emails on health, relationships, etc
- THE NOISEMAKER: Oblivious to other’s feelings, loud conversations, singing, humming, etc,
The above traits found among people in offices show an interesting set.
Managers however needs to maximize the strengths and minimize their inadequacies. Can you imagine that there is information that the gossiper can give which can lead to an arrest of a fraudster, both internal or external! A Teller was able to hint a branch manager of a potential money launderer as well as a customer who was wanted by other competitor banks for fraud! When an office target needs to be met, it is the workaholics who often help meet the target, with minimum errors. In the branch, when new products and services are introduced, staff with certain traits such as sanguine, outgoing, pleasant looking and proactivity are used to implement them. When certain regulations and controls are needed to be implemented, it is the studious, meticulous and “no-nonsense” types are selected to enforce it. There are certain personalities recommended for front-office functions and likewise for back-office functions. However, a mixture of both is also used for certain environments and situations.
Dear manager, whatever style you use to manage diversity of personality in your office, make sure there is a good balance of risk management as well as people management. This will surely lead to teamwork and collaboration. Enjoy a spicy work environment and not a toxic one!
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, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations ethics and fraud.