INTRODUCTION Ever wonder why some persons you deem unfit make it to the management positions in your bank? You would have expected a member of an executive management of a bank to be razor-sharp in banking and relationship skills, versatile and inspirational. Actually, many of them are very good but the skills you desire to see in them are not the qualification for the positions they occupy. There is a reason for any Management promotion or action. It is left for the the perceptible staff to seek to know the uncommunicated reasons for such actions. This piece is written for the guidance of young ambitious bank officers aiming to make it to the top management cadre. It will also be useful to those at the middle management (AM-SM) with ambitions. I shall attempt to reveal why many staff are stagnated or exited upon attainment of the post of a manager or senior manager. THE CEILING CONCEPT Every staff in any organisation has a unique personality and capabilities. The combination of skills set, qualities and management perception determines how far up a staff can go in an organisation. There are staff who are only good as subordinates and will never be assigned supervisory roles. They are eased out of the organisation once their mates are being made supervisors. If they are not sacked, they will constitute problem in the organisation. Also, there are supervisors who might be popular with the junior colleagues but are programmed not to progress beyond middle management level no matter how hard they work. They are adjudged to have reached their career ceiling. Popularity among colleagues is never a qualification to make it to the top. Rather, managers notorious for meanness make it faster to the top. They are viewed by management as protective of owners' interests and should be made permanent slave masters and enforcers. KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR SENIOR MANAGEMENT PROMOTION Performance is not enough a criterion for promotion to the senior management cadre. There are a lot of other qualities the owners of the business look out for. 1. CAN WE TRUST THE CANDIDATE? A performing staff with questionable alliances or doubtful loyalty is never considered for top management appointment. The staff may meet other criteria for upliftment but would be "parked" if his or her role is still essential. He/she may get huge profit bonus or salary notch increment as a balm or decoy. Untrusted staff is never brought near where highly confidential and sensitive issues of the bank are discussed. He/she may sell out and the bank is dammed. Over the years, banks' management watch the middle management staff and take notes on their non-performance related attributes. The readiness of the staff to take up assigned tasks, to work longer hours, to sacrifice leave and other personal comfort for the organisation don't pass unnoticed. 2. A NEED-TO -HAVE REASON Smart middle management staff should learn presentation and internal customer relationship skills. The way you present issues at meetings like credit committee, profitability review and all bank's official functions matter a lot. The way and manner you manage your business units, resolve conflicts and interpret management's policies in such a way that you are always seen to be on the side of the management is key and indicative of how far up you can go. Owners of the business need confident and courteous people to drive the management policies. 3. FIRMNESS Management elevates those that they believe can whip people into line even at the cost of being deemed wicked. The right candidate would've to demonstrate ability to recommend people considered undesirables for sack. He/she should be ready to do management's dirty jobs which may be interpreted as wickedness to an ordinary eye. You should have the ability to sack close friends or deal with staff designated for humiliation out of the system and those on the management's watch list without emotion. Not all enforcers make it to the top management as many of them are consumed by their own nemesis. 4. CONSANGUINITY Many ordinary staff who are close relatives or townsmen of the promoters of the banks are given an expedited promotion to the executive management. This, to the owners, is self preservative. Many in this class may look "not skilled" to the undiscerning onlooker. 5. INGENUITY There are staff who due to their specialisation, mastery of their roles and performance make the owners of the bank invite them to the management cadre. They may not become CEOs because the owners may be afraid to hand over their banks to a stranger. This class are mostly in the minority. They are usually seen in IT, Financial Control and Bankwide Operations. 6. EYE SERVICE There are examples of ordinary staff that made it to the board of companies through eye service. The banks are not left behind. These guys usually meet minimum requirements for their elevation but they know how to garnish it with eye-service. Smart informants to the owners at manager/senior manager levels have a good chance of making it to executive management. This class of candidates are used to checkmate the activities of other executive members of the banks. 7. PERFORMANCE EXTRACTORS Owners of a bank look out for hard man-managers who know how to extract performance from fellow staff; people who can squeeze out results or eggs from a confirmed cock. They may not by themselves do much but they know how to push people to achieve excellent performance through well measured application of carrot and stick methods. Some use pure threat and divide and rule application to achieve what they want from staff. I laugh when I hear junior colleagues ask " which business did this oga bring to warrant his promotion? We are the ones working and he is taking the glory." SENIOR MANAGEMENT CODE OF CONDUCT Once you cross over to senior management side you are required to drop the garb of the oppressed and put on the robe of the oppressor or the slave master, stated in plain terms. In addition to being gagged, you must also display the following disposition: 1. You are not expected to criticise any management policy before other ranks even though the policy is against your personal conviction. It is called Collective Responsibility. 2. You are required to live the brand of the bank and should be mindful of your lifestyle in and outside the bank in order not to put the bank to disrepute. 3. You are expected not to divulge management secret to juniors or to outsiders because you have been initiated and have become a member of the inner chamber. The near total change in behaviour of an elevated executive is usually shocking to junior colleagues as they observe the transition of their hitherto accessible senior colleague to a character they had collectively despised and condemned. CONCLUSION Note that there are other factors like vacancies, readiness, ethnic perception, mandatory gender balancing and regulatory concerns that inform senior management promotions. But, all things being equal, the factors I enumerated and discussed above, amongst others, play major roles in determining who goes to the top. It behoves on the current bankers to do a self appraisal and determine whether they are in the trajectory that is in line with their ambitions. You may ask someone to help you analyze your journey so far. I advise you start planning your exit immediately you realize that you are being stagnated. You should use the remaining useful years of your youth to set up something for yourself before you are thrown out unprepared. Some bankers don't survive impromptu sack especially those that let the job define their essence. Start saving most of your earnings now and think of what else you can do. Oba Otudeko and Uche Ogar wouldn't have achieved Honeywell and Masters Energy if they had remained in banking. If you are on a privileged track following your assessment or that you are young, kudos to you. You now know the game and the minefield. You can achieve it if you focus and work for it. All I have written above is still subject to Time and Chance. We are all pencils in the hands of the Creator. However, knowledge is power. Now, you have it. They are applicable to other professions in Nigeria. By Anayo Nwosu.