THE ILLUSION OF WORKING FOR BIG AND STRONG BANK IN NIGERIA

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Very earlier in my career, while working for one of the nation’s finest banks, I had a boss, a general manager, who held in contempt other banks ranked small or struggling and would advise us, his subordinates, to count ourselves lucky to be working for the best bank in country.

Also, the managing director of the bank would at any given opportunity, tell us, his employees that we were carefully chosen and were privileged bankers for the mere fact that we were staff of his bank.

Like controlled robots, almost all the staff were afflicted with this arrogance and a feeling of bigness of “our” bank. Some marketing people would take it to another level when they talk down on their mates in other banks during syndication meetings or in the market place.

With benefit of personal experience, I pity staff of today’s strong, efficient and well-paying banks who have been so brainwashed to share in the enthusiasm of their paymasters. They mistake being a “stakeholder” for being controlling “shareholder”.

Unbeknownst to disillusioned bank staff, their existential reality is being poisoned and their vision blurred by the vacuous deceit by bank owners. Some of the warped staff even dream of succeeding the owner managing director even when the handwriting on the wall is so visible.

I have been a victim of bank owner induced arrogance and have come to pity some of my professional colleagues who fail to realize that they are simply like old layers working in bank owners’ poultry.

The old layer has a tenured existence in its owner’s pen or poultry farm.

As a chicken, once your egg laying capacity drops by virtue of age, accident, economic twist or cheer dislike by a new poultry supervisor, you would be lucky if the poultry owner does not eat you by himself.

A smart bank worker should realize that he/she is only but a labour which is in the lower rung of the list of what the economists refer to as “factors of production”.

The owners of your bank are known as entrepreneurs. You work for them and are at their mercy.

This is irrespective of your position.

You may be a junior, senior or general old layer in your bank or poultry. At one point or the other, you must be laid off for new, vibrant and more productive chicks who will become the new performing egg layers.

As a labour or labourer that you are, you are only entitled to wages or salaries in the quantity that would make you stay and work for the owners. The allowances and the profit bonus are meant to make you forget that your are in prison.

The car, mortgage, dressing allowance and all those goodies you are given are carefully designed to enhance the corporate image of the bank and to attract the best of old layers or workers. It is called attracting, buying and keeping talent.

A foolish banker would be soaked in the illusion of a well paying job and would forget to save for the rainy day which will surely come.

Some bankers but keeping squandering the income from their glorious servitude.

There are numerous non-circumspective bankers, who in anticipation of next pay largesse would rent and live in expensive apartments, shop and do regular expensive vacations abroad, wear gold, diamonds and apparels Bill Gate or Mark Zuckerberg consider expensive. They think that the income tap would continue to run ad infinitum.

Start a conversation with senior management staff of banks that have just been disengaged and see how bitter they are about their former organization. Most aggrieved amongst them are those that worked in the operations departments, who were detached from interfacing with customers. These ones need to be debriefed and tutored about the real world.

While the younger ones adjust more easily, the senior ex-bankers sing like broken records enumerating how they were used by bank owners and dumped when they needed them most. They would narrate how they were not allowed to access their computer systems or their offices after being told that their services were no longer needed.

These seniors forget easily that they had in time past gleefully helped the bank’s Management they now blame to treat numerous juniors the same way. They were like hangmen dishing out sack letters to their junior colleagues the way Mama Put woman dishes out jolof rice.

My dear young banker, do not be deceived by the rhetorics and the deceitful feeling stoked by your management that you are a part-owner of the bank.

It is not true.

You are just an employee, a labour and a factor of production.

Your current pay package is your real worth and is a motivation or inducement to make you remain at your duty post. It serves to make you feel happy and deliver results at current your current position.

Your continued retention in a bank is as a result of the reality that you are either doing well or that your replacement who could do better than you have not been identified.

As an employee of a bank, you must always ensure that you package yourself to appear skilled, performing, useful and usable.

Get all the required skill sets needed for your role or job function and ensure that your are the best in your area. If you think that you are exceptionally good, find a way of planting in the mind of your management that you might be headhunted by competition.

That word “loyalty” means two things. One is “continued slavery to your employer without planning to leave until you are sacked” and the other is “being steadfast to your set goals in life”. In other words, be loyal to that plan that can optimize what you receive as rewards as a labourer before you can work no more.

But you must be very professional in staying in your current employment or and while leaving. Always observe the rule of engagement and obey your employment terms.

If your bank believes that you are so good, they will promote you and price you out of the market. They even would give you incentives as men do when they are fighting or competing for a beautiful girl they crave for.

Enjoy benefits you derive from a bank while it lasts knowing full well that like an old layer, you have an exit date with your employer.

If you feel that you are so good and that you are not being appreciated or promoted, float your skills in the market and move to another bank or industry.

The winner of a rat race is still a rat.

The best bank to you should be the one that meets your needs and expectations. Let the investors or bank customers worry about ratings.

Have you ever wondered why a general manager in a top bank would quickly accept an executive directorship post in a bank considered average?

It is for career progression.

You too need to change banks to attain your career advancement goals faster.

I hereby re-emphasize that the best bank in the world to a smart bank employee is that one that promotes him/her and rewards his/her efforts commensurately; not the one that is best in name and ratings but poor in enhancing his/her earnings and net worth.

My dear young banker, one of the methods to achieve greatness in banking known only to smart few is to be very mobile. Always attend interviews, change jobs and stay longest in the bank that offers you the best in terms of promotion and other conditions of service regarded as “hygiene factors”.

When I see some bankers complain about denial or delayed promotion or disproportionate pay considering the volume of work they do, I pity them. What they received now is their current value their employers placed on them.

Promotions, profit bonuses and salary increases are privileges and not a right.

In words of Jesus in Matthew 20:14-15 while justifying the act of an employer, reprimanded the expectant employees who thought that they should have earned higher than the contracted pay saying “take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

So, my banker friends, receive sense and evaluate your current position and wean yourself of the illusion of a partaker of the entitlement of the bank owners. Recognize the fact that you are a just labourer. Hone your skills, determine your worth, float your availability in the market and only work for a deserving entrepreneur.

Also, every banker should save most of what he/she earns.

As a banker, you should invest wisely because your fate is not different from that of the old layer in a poultry farm.

You may be asked to go earlier than you plan.

And at that time, it would be too late and you may never recover from the shock.

By Anayo M. Nwosu

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