The other side of HR in PSBs
In recent days, there have been lots of talking and write-ups taking place on HR.
So far, all these happenings are centered upon on one side of HRD ie how to develop skills of personnel and how personnel to develop themselves qualities of skills etc. Beyond these routine activities, an important aspect has been hiding – practical problems of personnel which are mixture of both individual and executive. Let us look at these as practically as possible to have momentous glance over the issues involved.
While a great change has taken place during the past decade, a strong need is felt for updated training to keep in touch with developments that have been taking place globally and for developing skills in areas where the personnel felt they are lacking expertise. The need for being associated in training programmes in specialization areas come up as they have to keep in touch with changes for present day tasks as well as future anticipatory needs. Written circulars and web-classes alone are not a complete information sharing or training system and personnel would like to get the ‘feel’ of discussions. Otherwise, employees may feel ‘professional loneliness’ and also their proficiency in various banking activities would be much below the level of expectation.
Rejection of promotion:
The increasing number of persons declining promotions and quitting banks voluntarily is a sign of alarm to an organization and the incentives of career path may require reviewing. One reason adduced has been the transfer policy but even this would be acceptable if the rewards of promotions are significant. Movement of the family is a cause for problem from both the housing situation and the education requirements. To counter this perhaps, a system of retaining residence at one centre could be extended to them. This would leave staff in the younger and in the older age groups where family problems are slightly less to move to other centres more easily.
Decision making skills
The decline in this is attributed by many to lack of support by the Management/Senior/Organisation to individuals acting in all sincerity and good faith. Verbal instructions and verbal discussions are sometimes not supported at a later stage if they happen to take a turn for the worse. This has resulted in a higher clerical mentality and reduced drive and initiative.
These officials have the highest job satisfaction as well as the highest level of frustration. The former results because their independence, budget achievements and other personal initiatives taken by them on individual capacity. The latter results because they work in a situation where unions and associations appear to have a larger say than they themselves even including the controlling authorities. While accepting that, one has to work in the present industrial climate and take into account views of others, they feel that once a decision is taken, it should be maintained. The frustration from having to reverse actions taken is more detrimental than lack of promotional avenues and leads to an attitude of playing safe. Glaring example was the decision of a chairman of a bank in revoking suspension of the officials involved in a scam.
The department and officials are seen to have the maximum ‘power’ in an organization with promotions and postings used as indicators of that power. Industrial relation is a highly specialized area and therefore, when administration and industrial relations are clubbed, fairness is expected. Discrimination, delays and lack of free communication of an official’s entitlements and reasons for refusals are cited as the basic reasons for officials having to take the help of unions/associations, spend time on personal matters at the cost of official performance; and feel hurt, angry. Handling of postings and promotions should, therefore, be undertaken with utmost honesty and as per laid down norms.
Delay in announcing promotion results leads to awkward situations of officials not being considered for certain jobs which they would have been eligible for, had the results come in time. Missing the bus for no fault of their own leads the officials concerned to unhappiness which stays with the officials for all time.
In earlier days, seniors had time to counsel officials and advise them on their short-comings or educate them to improve their performance. In contrast, today’s senior management appears to have very little time for individuals. A few selected people could act as counselors and play the role that is perhaps partly played by the system nowadays. Even if the individual is wrong in his perception, a correction would come in time and without prolonged misunderstanding between supervisor and lineman.
Senior officials either do not appear to have time or have willingness to assess officials directly for purposes of their confidential reports, promotions, assignments etc. The reliance placed on third party reports is increasing and has set in chain a way of propaganda and ‘showing off’ which leave a quiet and introverted people at a disadvantage. The treatment in the system for HR appears to be different. That is for the same short-coming an official is probably more strongly berated and this is not only for reason of his being an officer and therefore, with different responsibilities but also because he does not normally have a strong retort.
The ‘earners’ on profit centres have a strong professional loyalty, a great strength for the organization. Personal loyalty rather than a professional one is seen in administrative offices or ‘spenders’. Professional loyalty would result in better team work, projects going through without setbacks, a sense of honesty or purpose pervading the organization. Examples would be projects approved and started would continue as per original plan even if there is a change in the man at the helm, whose power/ego needs often prompt a change or shelving of the project. Personal loyalty is also expressed in choice of personnel for specific jobs or extension of perquisites or interpretation of rules.
The pressure of population, urban transport etc leaves individuals with very little personal time. Respect for another official’s time is a courtesy which would increase productivity. At Corporate/Head/Regional Offices, frequent disturbance for discussions, clarifications and waiting in corridors diminish productivity. A block of time of 2/3 hours could easily be frozen for individual officials to pursue their own plan of work leaving consultations, meetings for the other half of the day.
The benevolent elderly advisor found earlier in almost every office would moderate behaviour patterns to conform to a civilized way of life and this took care of frustrations on account of jealousy. The cause of these jealousies is usually ‘unfair’ allotment of perquisites or postings or promotions. A generosity in spirit percolating down from above could take care of this frustration and perhaps even instill perception of ‘fairness’.
Officials judged on the basis of last three or five reports felt their overall contribution over a period of say 20 years was not taken into account. Various factors could have distorted the last few reports – domestic problems, reporting authority (one man’s excellent is another’s average) and placement mismatch.
The authorities at the appropriate levels should keep in their mind the above casual but seriously sensitive issues while dealing so that efficient output could be generated from the personnel.
The above mentioned HR related frustrations are transparent and need to be looked into by the responsible managers at all levels to improve industrial relations in the banking industry.
S.R.Rajagopal, State Bank of India, Zonal Inspection Office, Hariram Building, 37, College Road, Chennai 600006