Keep changing and growing

21 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views
Keep changing and growing

The Sunday Mail

Hunt for Greatness

Milton Kamwendo

ON April 19, 1994, I reported for work at the Barclays Bank head office. There were some papers to sign and start the on-boarding. The papers included medical aid, pension and staff bank account forms. After meeting the necessary officials, I was sent to the Robert Mugabe Branch, where I was to commence my graduate traineeship.

It was all excitement. I had finally joined the real world of work. I was no longer a university student. At the time, banking in Zimbabwe was done at branch level. Your relationship was with a bank branch and not just the financial institution’s brand. The branch manager was as important as the other personal professional you cannot do without.

All the day’s work was captured on stand-alone computers, then saved on floppy disks and sent for central processing. The data capture work, code-named waste, was done at branch level. The internet was not yet for everyone. The staff complement at the branch was more than 50 people. The whole bank was said to employ 1,500 people in Zimbabwe. It was a big bank, doing important things and listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Computers were only used by tellers. They used them for cash registry and capturing the day’s transactions. Big cheques for encashment needed to be recorded in a book and sent to the manager for authorisation. Letter writing and filing were important and critical skills.

Email was not in wide usage. Social media was not yet born. Cell phones were a speculation of the future.

The internet was only whispered about among technology geeks. The rest of us handled and processed manual vouchers and documents. Bank managers were royalty and you had to dress up in a suit and tie to see them. Then change started.

The bank initiated a change programme that had many promises. It was revolutionary, stressful and fearful. New banking systems started being rolled out and new ways of working began.

The new systems were going to link all the branches via satellite. The game was going to be a sea change. Processes were going to be re-engineered and things were going to be different. The business was going to be right-sized and change champions were identified.

We all sang and filed along, waiting for change. We watched as transformation happened and wondered what next would change. At times, you wished you could stop the momentum of change. Staff members complained that the bank was changing too many things too fast.

The executives advised that it was no longer about the comfort of remaining the same; it was a matter of survival and competing for the future. This was the time when books like Andy Grove’s “Only the Paranoid Survive” were hitting bestseller lists. They advised that complacency kills and the only thing that was constant was change. In the momentum of change, the bank was going to right-size its staff and a number of people were offered redundancy packages. Everything seemed to be happening in fast-forward mode. Change was on steroids and both work and minds were being re-engineered.

The world of work was changing and it was necessary to recalibrate my own dreams, capacity to keep learning, aspirations and goals. Keeping an old mindset when everything was changing was going to be a great liability. The world of work continues to change and evolve.

Welcome change

Change happens everywhere but it is a human tendency to remain wedded to the past. Change is always like a double-edged sword and those who think like victims suffer the most. Change is natural and the best way to survive it is to help create it.

Clock watching

Work has changed from being a clock-watching affair to being about the value and performance you deliver. Ticking off items that do not mean anything from a to-do list is not real work, it is rote working. If there are no results from work, no amount of clocking can atone for a failure to deliver results. Tasks should contribute to the strategic goal. The mindless clock watcher in the emerging world of work may soon have the luxury of watching the clock without interruption.

Work is action

Work was a place you went to. Your pride, ego and status were tied to your office. The size of your office and its trimmings spoke of your social status. Work is no longer a place you go to but something you do. Your status is no longer based on the size of the office but the efficiency of your internet link and the quality of your thinking and decisions.

Keep learning

Failure comes from learned arrogance. In the past, school could be finished with pride. Once one graduated, one could afford to throw all books away and commit to working faithfully and attending an occasional conference. That is no longer enough. Learning is a life-long venture.

Do not succumb to the trap of the Dunning-Kruger (DK) effect. This effect suggests that unknowledgeable people lack the very expertise they need to recognise their lack of expertise. They, thus, overrate their knowledge and performance. The DK effect makes people who know little about something to make the most noise about it. The best cure for this effect is the humility to keep learning.

Using old knowledge to navigate new territory is like using outdated maps. Those who do not learn daily are saboteurs of progress. Outdated knowledge, like outdated maps, is misleading and gives people a false and dangerous comfort. Your learning gradient must always be ever steep. When the learning gradient starts dropping, trouble is near.

Work is changing and so is everything else. To survive change is to be an ever-curious learner. Armed with a cause, working with passion and learning all the time, change will never scratch your name from the line-up of doing worthy work and delivering results.


Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author and a virtual, hybrid and in-person workshop facilitator. He is a cutting-edge strategy, team-building and organisation development facilitator and consultant. His life purpose is to inspire and promote greatness. He can be reached at: [email protected] and his website is:


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