Attitude - The impact on performance
Vice President - KYC Delivery Manager
Friday 5 April 2019
Banking and Financial Services in Northern Ireland is an industry which continues to thrive, and its subsequent growth and development is supported by a wealth of individuals who are well educated, highly-qualified, ambitious for success, and driven to perform.
In an environment of like-minded individuals with similar levels of education and ability, the differential factor in performance is attitude.
Performance = Attitude x Ability (P = A x A)
The specific aspect of attitude that can have the most detrimental impact on the performance of an individual if they are unable to navigate it effectively, is their attitude towards change.
The volume of change within this industry is vast and the frequency at which it can occur is significant. This is not an industry of robots, it is an industry of individual people with individual attitudes that, combined with ability, determine individual performance.
If the change is favourable or requires minimal adjustment, this will barely register with those impacted. The alternative is quite the opposite.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is ability? (1)
“An acquired or natural capacity or talent that enables an individual to perform a particular job or task successfully.”
Essentially, this is the skill of an individual, i.e. the initial assessment of what an individual can achieve at present based on factors such as their education and experience to date.
What is attitude? (2)
When you think of the word “attitude”, it is fair to say that most of us may initially think of it as being a criticism directed towards someone, e.g. “he has an attitude problem” or “I don’t like her attitude”. What is the problem being highlighted? Is the person in question too positive, too negative, or do they just not conform to the expectations of whoever is making the statement?
Attitude is more complex than it might initially appear so, let’s look at two perspectives:
Perspective 1 (3)
“A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual's choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).”
There are four major components of attitude:
(1) Affective: emotions or feelings.
(2) Cognitive: belief or opinions held consciously.
(3) Conative: inclination for action.
(4) Evaluative: positive or negative response to stimuli.
Perspective 2 (4)
Attitude = Feelings x Beliefs
Both perspectives indicate that attitude is the will of an individual, i.e. the assessment of what an individual is capable of achieving based on factors such as how they react to a specific situation (knowingly or unknowingly), what they perceive the situation to be, and how they feel about it. Essentially, the individual has sole control over this.
Why is attitude important when it comes to performance?
Individual performance is a combination of will and skill to deliver the task at hand.
The Will Skill versus Performance diagram below shows that each person will sit within one of the four categories relating to their individual performance.
High Will High Skill: denotes an individual who has both the attitude and the ability to successfully deliver the task. This would commonly be visible in an individual who has more experience in the role and has continued to successfully overcome challenges, maintain their knowledge and competence throughout.
High Skill Low Will: denotes an individual who has the ability but lacks the attitude to successfully deliver the task. This would commonly be visible in an individual who has experience and/or ability to succeed in the role but lacks the willingness or desire to continue to overcome challenges, maintain their knowledge or competence. This could be the result of an unsuccessful relationship with their manager or mentor subsequently having an adverse effect on the individual; the need for the individual to take on a new challenge; or indeed, the individual never having the aspirations or personal ambition to succeed in the first place.
High Will Low Skill: denotes an individual who has the required attitude to successfully deliver the task but who currently lacks the necessary ability to do so. This would commonly be visible in an individual who is inexperienced in the task or is new to the role but who displays the willingness and desire to overcome challenges and is working to build their knowledge and competence.
Low Will Low Skill: denotes an individual who lacks both the attitude and the ability to successfully deliver the task. This would commonly be visible in an individual who is inexperienced in the task or is new to the role but who also lacks the willingness or desire to overcome challenges or build their knowledge and competence. This could be the result of an ineffective relationship with their manager or mentor whilst being new to the role, causing an adverse effect on the confidence or self-belief of the individual; the individual being selected to deliver a task beyond their maximum capability; or the individual never having the aspirations or personal ambition to succeed in the first place.
When conducting a performance review, it is important for an individual to make an honest self-assessment of the category which best describes them at that moment in time, compared to the category in which they would aspire to be.
What happens when change occurs? (5)
The Kübler-Ross model (otherwise known as ‘The Change Curve’) shows the emotional roller coaster that we can end up travelling on when change occurs, versus the impact it has on our morale and competence:
The reactions in this model are categorised into the five stages of change:
Shock or denial: this is the initial response to the change, normally just a temporary reaction, whereby some time is needed to understand what is going on; to bury the head in the sand; or maybe even to hope that it is not true.
Anger: realisation has hit home and the individual is no longer in denial of what is happening but, it is fair to say, they are far from happy about it.
Bargaining: attempts are made to put the change off, or to find another solution or alternative that may seem more favourable.
Depression: realisation that there is no alternative and that the change will happen, resulting in an all-time low at this point (but little do they know they are already at the midway point of the curve).
Acceptance: awareness of what has to be done. The individual might not be totally clear on how it will be achieved but discussions are taking place and ideas are being shared. There may be some individuals in the group still at an earlier stage of the process who may need to be carried for a while until they reach the same level of awareness. At the acceptance stage, the individual just wants to make it happen.
There is a well-known phrase that time is a healer and what this model show is the direct correlation between how you feel, the impact of each stage and how human nature will cause you to react.
People will travel on this emotional roller coaster at some point, and some will do so more frequently than others. Some individuals will move through specific stages more quickly, and some may require help and support at a particular time that others may not.
This industry is fast moving and ever changing, where people do not always have the luxury of time on their side, or who react to change differently with some skipping stages 2, 3 and 4 and going straight to stage 5. For these reasons, it is important to be aware that these are natural reactions and, with this awareness, that it is possible to learn how to self-manage reactions and responses when it comes to change and the overall attitude towards it.
In summary, Your performance = Your attitude x Your ability.
Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi-award winning financial services company that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on a global stage with the largest international investment banks. FinTrU provides its clients with high quality, cost-effective, near-shore resourcing solutions. FinTrU’s products are: Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations and Consultancy. Its clients are all Tier 1 Investment Banks based in London, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Paris. FinTrU currently employs 330 staff at its two Belfast city centre offices and Derry/Londonderry.