Sometimes it’s the painful, annoying and ridiculous things that happen to you at work that turn out to be positively important ingredients in your personal development.
New joiners beware
I can tell you that for me and all of my former colleagues in ibanking, and I’d say many people who work for a large powerhouse investment bank, there was no instruction manual to refer to when, on our first day and not long after we seated ourselves comfortably on what was to become an extension of our rears, some senior banker appeared unannounced and barked an order to have this or that done “NOW!”
You were nearly always approached with everything but a gentle or friendly “hello”, “excuse me”, “would you mind”, “can you please” or any of that fluffy, time-wasting nonsense. There were exceptions of course, when someone put their hand on your shoulder, smiled and kindly asked you to do something for them. But those events which were few and far in between occurred when you daydreamed for a few seconds at your desk as a coping mechanism before another urgent deadline landed on your desk like a meteor.
Generally, someone just commanded you to “get X done in 10 minutes”. And trust me when a managing director stares right at you with bloodshot eyes, a threatening open mouth and bulging neck veins you begin to stress very quickly. And as soon as he’s done giving his request and turns around you get to work and you call on every single cell in your brain to get their shit together and perform at 100%.
There’s a saying that goes, work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. That’s Parkinson’s law. The time pressure and urgency to complete a task of epic propotions in 10 minutes leads you to become more efficient than you’ve ever thought imaginable.
But it’s not just about a 10-minute deadline which normally takes five people working together an hour to complete. What makes the situation highly challenging and significantly more stressful, is that you’re not given directions on how to do the task. Nothing.
No directions? Isn’t that counterintuitive? Given ibankers work on such important deals wouldn’t it make sense to be instructed properly on what to do? You may ask yourself plenty questions like these. The reason why instructions are not given will be the subject of another article. However, for the purposes of this post, I’d like to highlight how much of a good thing it can be for you not to receive any direction.
If you look past the momentary hell it puts you through and the spike in stress levels your body must adjust to, not to mention the greying of two or three additional hairs on your scalp or the probable onset of an ulcer, it can actually be a very good thing for you in the long run. Before things get good there will be pain. More often than not, lots of it.
Does anyone really think that the superior skills and abilities an ibanker comes to possess through years of experience on the job are intangibles acquired by way of a comfortable and soothing journey? Perhaps similar to a lovely evening stroll along the beach somewhere in North Goa? If only.
One could fill thousands upon thousands of pages with incidences of tasks assigned with no direction or instruction. As I am in Portugal at present, I am reminded of the time Adam, a senior investment banker covering Portugese banks, appeared at my desk one fine Wednesday morning. [READ MORE…]