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7 tips for a great career

Career, banking

After graduating in Finance as my major, I received an offer to join a multinational bank as a Trainee collection officer. This was something close to my dream career. I knew my performance in the given key result areas can confirm me as a permanent employee of the bank also, make me eligible for promotion a year after.

My job was to telephone customers of the bank who had defaulted payments on their credit card and request them to make payment or sell the idea of how important it was for them to make payment, their to keep their card active. The role was quite demanding with benchmarks and targets to be achieved every day. Nevertheless I was determined to do the same for my career in the bank. After all, to be a permanent employee of a multinational, fortune 500 company was not going to be easy. I thought this experience would act as a springboard in my career.

The training lasted for a week. My first week on the job was more of learning. My targets were also relaxed. This, let me gain confidence. Gradually things changed and meeting benchmarks and targeted call rate became the order of the day. As a new joiner, my spirits were high and I kept pace with almost everything. At the end of the first month I achieved 90% or above in all the set parameters. My boss was happy and cheered me to keep up the effort.

My performance in the previous month gave me a great start the second month. A degree of confidence had set in as I thought my career has started soaring, and I did not look into the hourly reports of my call, contact and promise – to- pay numbers. I made a few friends at work and we shared frequent breaks together in the cafeteria. I justified these breaks as a relaxation and a necessary routine for the high-pressure levels on the shop floor. The idea of calling customers and reminding them about payments seemed laborious. I sometimes thought, "what a nasty way to start a career!" My call contact and conversion rates dropped to 85 %. I got a gentle reminder from my boss regarding my slipover and I promised to gain momentum in the following week. Week after week, I struggled to meet my minimum benchmarks and the variance to target widened in every MIS.

The fourth month brought more disaster. Along with me there were six new trainees with the same career aspirations, and my boss announced the end of the year would have only the top three as confirmed employees. I ranked 5th as on date. I knew my dream of a career in banking was far and difficult. I became desperate and had to chalk out a strategy and give my 100% to even think of a career in this bank.

That night was sleepless I thought of what went wrong and why I was in such a sorry state of affairs. I took a pen and paper and started writing down an action plan.

1.Identify and accept*: The wiser ones have always said Identify and accept the problem and half your problem is solved. * After my first month of success I developed a reckless attitude towards the daily routine. My first step towards reshaping was to identify and accept that I have a problem in delivering the required numbers. - I had completely lost track of the hourly MIS. This is the primary indicator of productivity and it was the mantra of callers invariable of their tenure. The non-tracking the hourly MIS flagged off my non-performance trail. A root cause of every problem is only the shift of focus from the fundamental procedure and the failure of Identification and acceptance.

2. Measure your goals and distances towards the same**: The gap built in my productivity numbers had to be measured and I had to tabulate the required run rate to deliver on all the quality and quantity parameters in order to patch the variance. The measuring of each parameter gave me an insight of the effort and time I needed to achieve the desired goal within the stipulated time. This would require working extra hours and sacrificing time with family and friends.

3. Keep Macro goals in mind: My goal was to become eligible for permanent employment first which would be the stepping stone of my banking career. This required me to perform month on month. Only the average performance was accounted, as the system is number based. Small victories should only work as a source of encouragement and raise the level of confidence. On the other hand, an over-confident attitude will only delay in reaching the long-term goal.

4. Keep watch on competition: As I completely indulged myself on meeting benchmarks, I became oblivious to fact – “Survival of the fittest.” The organization is constantly comparing you with your peers. It is evident in our everyday life “The best set the benchmark for the rest!” I started tracking the productivity of my peers on an hourly, weekly and monthly basis it helped me calculate my rank!

5. Accept challenges and drawbacks of the task and counter them: This reminded me of my first interaction with the regional head of the territory who said “The job is bound to get monotonous and can lead you to a complete breakdown at such high pressure levels”
Yes, this happened to me monotony set in and instead of accepting and countering the same, I tried to escape.

6.Implement: ** A well-drafted plan is devoured if not implemented. The challenge ahead was in the successful implementation of my chart every hour, every call and in every minute. I took a break only when I saw myself ahead of all my peers on the hourly MIS. This gave me confidence and the break helped me burn stress. I got closer to my goal as days inched by.

7.Seek assistance and Develop Skill:*** We had quite a few senior callers who would deliver their benchmarks day after day and manage the month with ease. I sought assistance and learnt that they had developed a skill for the job and it came naturally to them. I also heard that most of the seniors were promoted to become team leaders once they had acquired the skill. Learning and acquiring skill was necessary to grow and this helped me great deal.

I gave up on every practice and attitude that obstructed the path to my goal. It required constant thinking and implementation of the process I had chalked. Every time fatigue and tiredness wore me out, I would read my bible, or so I called it. At the end of the day I would go through the MIS once again and match them to the variance and strike off a good day’s work. This exercise was such a morale booster.

The end of the year was not a surprise to me I was there 2nd on the list! (would have been first if not for my slipover). This procedure of mine gave me everything for the rest of my career and I went on to become a Deputy Manager at the end of three years.
Shirley Shivkumar

End Note:

* a problem- Author- Peale Norman

** DMAIC GE’s DMAIC Approach

***Reference from Author – Elias Ajax
Published: 2009-08-21
Author: Shirley Shivkumar

About the author or the publisher
A Freelance Writer writing for and Writers

Over 2 years of Experience in writing business plans, marketing plans, dissertations, college essays and content.

A writer with creativity, strongly driven by ideology

Possess a keen intellect to research, analyze and provide the best consensus.

A natural ability to express unbiased views and opinions.

Strict adherence to deadlines with rich and strong original content.

Knowledge of Subjects

Economics – Macro-economy

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