To me, character in a person is judged by the decisions that are made under pressure.
Dear Readers, last week I examined some aspects of pressure being given to various staff who handle loans. Pressure can come from both internal and external sources. In this final edition of advocating the importance of love and spirituality, or the God-factor in our workplaces – specifically the financial services industry, we will look at how staff can manage these various forms of pressure.
Modern banking is now survival of the fittest, sometimes almost akin to jungle warfare. As a profit-driven venture, every staff is under pressure to ‘perform’. The word ‘performance’ to bank staff is like a father looking at you with a third eye, counting the number of sins you are committing which are likely to result in you not receiving a Christmas present. In the case of banking, it can end up in a staff receiving a warning letter, reduced salary or allowances, no bonus or promotion. It is very disheartening to see your colleagues get lifted higher in ranking while you remain at the same grade. However, since it a common occurrence in life, one must not lose hope. Once the God factor continues to be at play in your life, you will surely get there. Before we look at how we can get there, let us look at some of the transformational shifts occurring in our present world of business.
The 21st Century Transformational Shift
Every generation faces its own share of problems, with the dilemma of what to do to be on top of the game. Every activity is seriously time-bound, and combining speed and accuracy is not a job for the faint-hearted. We are in an ‘e-generation’, where every activity is done with the touch of a button.
On the banking front, we have ATMs, e-banking, skype, e-mail, video-calls and e-transactions that make banking easy. E-relationship banking is good, but the pressure here is that in reality many customers expect the e-transactions to be mixed with real- time banker-customer relationships.
Let’s not forget the numerous daily relationships that are now in the E-Zone. We sing from e-hymn books, read from e-bibles; our daily prayers are now on e-motivational messages and scriptures; and we now want e-miracles (no time for waiting on God). All this ‘e-wahala’ business has its pros and cons.
New meaning in life and work
People are most certainly now seeking more meaning from their work and from their lives. People everywhere now have a voice, a stage, and an audience – largely enabled by technology and the worldwide web. Customers, informed by the increasing transparency and availability of information, are demanding that banks behave more responsibly and sensitively. The growing transparency of corporate behaviour in the modern world is creating new and real accountability. Leaders need now to care properly for people as well as the business, not just to make a profit and extract personal gain.
The concept of love and spirituality in business is not new
Love, compassion, spirituality, and real ethical principles actually provided the platform for the formation and success of many very large and famous corporations.
High finance and loving principles rarely appear in the same sentence now, but many banks now have a list of values and are run on caring principles. Being loving and spiritual is not dependent on being religious or believing in a god of any sort. Love and Spirituality are already relevant and applicable concepts in business and work. This is already happening.
Applying the God-factor in our work: Spiritual Intelligence
Whether we get promoted at work or not, I believe that one must learn to love the job and all other things will be added to it. Perhaps your star will not shine at your current place of work, but rather you are being prepared to be on your own or even become an influential person somewhere else…and that is where your shining star will be noticed.
In an age when speed is the modern god, wherein many organisations are, by necessity, almost continuously renewing themselves, and where choice and flexibility rule in a healthy job market, it seems a new and deeper intelligence is necessary to help a manager manage better and a leader to lead more effectively.
Kalhil Gibran, one of the best-known poet philosophers of the 19th century said: “Work is love made visible”. He actually foresaw a time when spirituality would meet business, and spiritual intelligence would find its way into the workplace and onto the curriculum of the modern manager.
To leaders who tend to see work only as a functional process and the workplace as a place just to ‘get the job’ done, applying the God-factor is unlikely to register on their radar. To the more enlightened manager/leader who seeks to generate a cohesive team and release the deepest potential of each individual, it makes perfect sense. Good leaders should know that the true meaning of love in a workplace context is the energy of enthusiasm that lives in the heart of every human being; but they also know that this energy only starts to flow into the process of ‘doing’ when certain conditions are prevalent.
Spiritual intelligence is something everyone has, but only a few learn to develop, while our academic education was focused around rational intelligence. Rational intelligence manages facts and information by using logic and analysis to make decisions, whereas emotional intelligence is necessary to understand and control one’s emotions and feelings, while being sensitive to the feelings of others.
According to Mike George in his article “Practical Application of Spiritual Intelligence in the Workplace” in the Sept 3, 2014 edition of Business Cool:
“Spiritual intelligence on the other hand, is necessary:
- to find and utilise the deepest, inner resources from which comes the capacity to care and the power to tolerate and adapt.
- to develop a clear and stable sense of identity as an individual in the context of shifting workplace relationships.
- to be able to discern the real meaning of events and circumstances, and be able to make work meaningful.
- to identify and align personal values with a clear sense of purpose.
- to live those values without compromise, and thereby demonstrate integrity by example”.
Some of the outcomes from the development and practice of spiritual intelligence include an ability to stay calm and focused in the face of crisis and chaos; a more selfless and altruistic attitude toward others; and a more enlightened and relaxed perspective on life.
While many people think there is nothing spiritual about work and the workplace, there are many areas of working life in which spiritual intelligence can/should be applied.
Managing the Pressure: My Final Words
Dear young bank executives, whatever role you are playing in your organisation, the deciding factor for your success may not be your accolades and titles but rather how you apply the God-factor in your work, which ultimately reflects in your ethical behaviour.
It is hard to work for God, but posterity will judge you in whatever decisions you take as you face the pressures of work. The pressures, both internal and external, are meant to polish you to withstand the shocks from the nature of the banking business.
- Decline any unhealthy advances from customers and seniors with professionalism. It is commonly human but must be handled with diplomacy and tact, and you will always be friends. Don’t take it personally.
- If you have to review a loan application, think twice. Are you working for the customer or for the bank, or even for your boss? Sometimes a few words of prayer can bring the magic. In five years’ time, will you be blamed for obeying your boss instead of the bank’s policy?
- If you start witnessing your customer’s diversion of funds meant for his business into other events, will you pull the trigger or look the other way quietly because you are related to him or her?
- If you are a Teller or Vault or ATM Custodian in financial distress, will you fiddle with the bank’s money and give yourself a ‘temporary loan’? Don’t forget that auditors can spring a surprise cash-count on your branch. Ask for a loan from the right places and pay honourably.
- Are the PEPs demanding too many favours from your bank to help this and that person with a loan, at whatever cost? Use your spiritual intelligence on them. Work harder…genuine customers will come as you make service delivery your priority.
Above all this, do you think the pressure will kill you? Of course not. It’s part of the journey of life.
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.