The N25billion Human Resources department

Human-Resources deptWhat will the Human Resources department look like as the New banking emerges with the N25billion capitalisation being requested of banks by the CBN. Which people management strategies will be employed from day one? What competencies and structures will we need to manage our chief resource (people) in the consolidated organisations that will emerge when the dust of the capitalisation exercise finally settles?

Basil Onugu in his piece to Atedo Peterside on this same issue loaned us the phrase ‘New banking’. It would seem that this capitalisation/consolidation exercise portends the birth of banking as we haven’t known it. Likely from the stable of CBN will come other policy changes that are aimed at protecting, preserving, and promoting these N 25billion institutions. Naturally the way financial services are provided will be significantly impacted. This humongous tide is also about to affect the management of human resources. Its impact will be seen even in the way the HR department is structured, managed and funded.

Obviously, the consolidation will result in larger banks with more staff, more branches, bigger branches, larger HR units and more strata in the organisational structure. Some obvious developments arising from these changes will be stronger regional offices, regional HR unit’s presence, more devolution of decision-making authority from head office, more outsourcing issues …

The New HR in the ‘New banking’

These obvious changes and resultant developments will require that people management practices and structures be considered a bit differently. The following changes represents probable, but not exhaustive, restructuring options that the consolidated bodies may defer to.

1.  The structure of Human Resources department.

The overall structuring of the current HR will be affected in a number of ways; strata, divisions, devolution of HR capabilities, decentralization of the unit, executive management membership, outsourced functions…

Strata. As with the bigger organisations we’ll begin to have HR practitioners in more senior and executive positions. We’ll likely see the emergence of titles such as Group HR Director, HR Director, etc.

Divisions. In order to effectively and efficiently manage our people, there’ll be more sub-divisions within the New HR unit. Whereas currently in some HR departments there are no sub-divisions, in some the subs are not clear-cut, and in others there are a maximum of three subs. We may begin to have sub-units such as; Training & development, Performance Management, HR services, Benefits & Compensation, Recruitment, Employee Relations & Communications, etc

Decentralisation of the HR department. Since we’ll see stronger regional operations, the HR unit may also move into these regional action zones. This is why we may see such offices as HR Manager – East. Also foreseeable is functional decentralisation – where some functions are farmed out to different locations. For example we may have regional training departments; one to cater for up-country and the other for Head Office and its environs.

Outsourcing. Already most banks have cadres of staff outsourced. Outsourcing will become a top-burner option for long standing HR functions. Entire functions – such as performance management or training – could be outsourced to other specialist firms to handle (the author advises against this though).

Devolution of human resources management capabilities. Another inevitable development is that line managers will need to share more and more in the delivery of HR solutions. Employees are directly responsible to their managers. Additionally, managers’ performance is now much more dependent on the performance of their team mates. Gone (or going !) are the days when the manger performs well but her subordinates are adjudged to have done badly. Together we sail or swim. So we’ll see line mangers acting more as ‘pseudo-HR managers’ – they’ll be responsible for coaching, developing, training and equipping their reports for high performance.

2.    Human Resource processes.

The processes through which these organisations channel their people management policies will be impacted in the New banking. More than ever before HR processes will now be judged by: ease-of-use, objectivity, transparency, and level of employee-ownership. We wouldn’t be able to afford processes that are ambiguous, complex, subjective and HR department-owned. Too much damage has already been done by those procedures that employees feel are only for the good of the HR unit. Valuable man-hours have also been lost by HR having to explain and re-explain procedures. The potential loss or damage will be higher with our consolidated sizes.

A Performance Management System that is simple, goal-driven, transparent, and employee-owned. The performance management process more than many others is one that requires a rework on most of our banks. As most people may have observed that this is one process that serves as the hub of all HR activities. It is here that people management policies (mouthed by executive management) either rise or fall.

This N25 billion consolidation is one initiative that will require more objectivity and transparency in the management of our chief resource. It will task executive management’s commitment to people been their principal resource. We’re going to getter bigger and more widespread, so we’ll need performance management processes that are clear and actually owned by employees. Employees must be able to say that this process is for my benefit.

E-enabled HR processes. To achieve real time management of our people we would have to maximise IT platforms that enable us transmit information online. A number of banks are already ahead in this regard but most have only developed IT solutions for customer transactions. We need to deploy these telecommunications capabilities for internal use.

3.    Training & Development.

Thank God for those institutions all over the world that have helped to show the impact of training and development on the employee and also on the bottom line. In the New banking, we would be constrained to pay much more than lip service to employee and organisational learning.

Leadership & management skill development. There are now stronger reasons for us to impart managers and supervisors with people management skills. People management will be the platform where a lot of managers will be tested in these consolidated banks. Remember managers get to become so largely from delivering on targets. It cannot just be left to chance that now that they are managers they’ll intuitively know how to lead others. This skill must be taught and entrenched in the organisation.

Culture creation/integration. Individual units of the consolidating entities will come on board with own culture or ‘no culture’. Training and development will serve as the vehicle for integrating several cultures and also the means for creating whole new cultures.

4.    HR professional development.

The HR profession will definitely face more challenging times. There will therefore be need for conscious career development for HR practitioners. Competencies required to manage and champion positive people management practices will have to be developed and continuously honed. We welcome the day of the ‘HR Specialist’