Every body else had left for lunch but Imran did not feel like eating anything today. His mind was totally occupied with his predicament at the bank’s agricultural finance division.
I think I am going to resign from this job. Yes I know fully well that the job market is very tight, but I can’t stand it any more. They are exploiting me, I am lagging behind all my peers in other departments, I’ll never make it to a branch banking position however much I try. It is so unfair that no one is concerned about my ailing and blind father who lives alone while I am working 35 kilometres away. To hell with job security and the fixed monthly take home salary. My sense of self worth and mental balance needs to be protected at all costs!
Agricultural Finance (AF) Division had done reasonably well over the past few years. Its credit portfolio had expanded from Rs.500 Million to Rs.4 Billion within three years. Its Central office, where Imran was working as Officer Incharge MIS, consisted of seven people, including the GM, his deputy and his secretary. A total of 45 Agricultural Finance Officers (AFOs) were deputed in major branches across the country to generate AF business and monitor outstanding portfolio.
ABC Bank, within 15 years of its inception, had become the sixth largest bank out of 45 banks operating in the country. Its rapid growth was the result of visionary leadership, large branch network and its entry in consumer finance in a big way. Agricultural finance was a relatively depressed business segment and its growth was mainly due to governmental pressure to achieve challenging growth targets assigned to all banks through the Central Bank.
Imran, 32, was feeling stuck in a routine job for three years. He was concerned about bleak growth prospects if he stayed in his present job, which was a drab daily affair of maintaining records of business figures reported by all centres on a daily basis. His job was of a mechanical nature – consolidate figures received from various offices, prepare spread sheet analysis and graphs, submit the whole package to the head of division and brief him face to face. His office was far from where he lived, involving about three hours of commute time, both ways. It made extremely difficult for him to help his ageing father who had lost his eyesight a few years ago.
Imran wanted to be a ‘Banker’ in the real sense of the word. His sights were set on moving to fast progressing positions in the branch network, where rapid promotions and salary increases were customary for branch bankers who produced outstanding business results. Imran had asked his boss a few times for a recommendation to HR that he be transferred out to branch banking, but the boss had flatly refused. In branch banking Imran hoped for a placement near to where he lived.
Imran was a well read, outspoken and forward looking banking professional. He often delivered lectures to agricultural finance officers, who were occasionally invited for in-house training events at their central office. His boss was happy with his knowledge and speaking ability and appreciated his participation in the training activities.
The Opportunity and the Decision
One day a note from Regional Head of Training arrived on the desk of the GM Agricultural Finance Division, asking him to identify a knowledgeable officer who was well versed in agricultural finance, to be transferred to the Training Centre for a period of two years. This would directly benefit the AFD as their entire staff then could become a part of the mainstream training system and would be able to attend a variety of training programmes every year. The GM casually talked about this letter during the informal lunch that all Central Office staff used to have together. This information ignited Imran’s imagination. He saw light at the end of the tunnel – getting out of this position! But was training centre really where he wanted to go? Training didn’t really excite him, although he had a flair for it. He wanted to become a branch banker.
He was sleepless that night, and the next. How to make this major decision, which could liberate him form his predicament – or land him in an even bigger mess. He remembered that at a social gathering he had met a senior executive, who was a certified coach and talked about starting in-house coaching in the bank – anyone could apply for coaching. Imran picked up the phone.
The in-house coach remembered Imran as a high potential officer and was delighted to receive his phone call. He set up the first meeting with Imran a couple of days later.
Questions arising out of the case:
(Please read these questions and frame your responses before reading on.)
- What does Imran’s willingness to apply for coaching indicate?
- It being in-house coaching, will Imran be able to open up and be honest?
- What values and beliefs does Imran have that are visible?
- If Imran finally decides to ask for and succeed in getting a transfer to the training centre, does it solve his problem? If he gets stuck in training, will he get even more frustrated? What if Imran asks the coach for advice about whether he should apply for this transfer?
- How would a systematic goal setting process help Imran?
- Is there a risk of the in-house coach getting caught in departmental politics?
- The training job was for a period of two years, meaning that Imran’s boss could ask for his transfer back to Agricultural Finance after this period. Right?
- What Power Tools can be employed to help Imran make forward movement in his journey?
Imran seemed to be stuck in a dis-empowering state, one of being a victim, blaming his bosses and his organization for his predicament. He urgently needed to shift perspectives and open up to taking responsibility for managing his career.
During the first meeting, the coach helped Imran make an inventory of his strengths and areas for further development. He was clear that in his present job, he was not utilizing his strengths and was not learning and growing. The coach also supported him in clarifying his goals, assessing the strength of his desire to move into branch banking, and to clarify his longer term vision.
Imran was also quite clear that a move to the Training Centre as a faculty member would be much better than his present assignments. In response to the question why he thought so, he came up with seven plausible reasons – including learning by teaching, rubbing shoulders with senior field executives on speaking visits to the training centre, learning branch banking, and opportunity to meet the CEO.
The coach made note of the need to explore how Imran can get out of a blaming state towards taking responsibility of his life and career. An inspiring vision and motivating goals would certainly help. During weekly coaching sessions opportunities would arise for developing strategies and structures to move Imran forward. ‘Active listening’ would be of great value.
A transfer to training became Imran’s first goal with a timeline of two months. His medium term career goal (two to three years) was to move into active branch banking positions. His long-term goal was to become CEO of the bank (20 years). Guided by the coach, Imran devised strategies and actions to move systematically towards his goals.