H.R.D. POLICIES AND PRACTICES IN PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS

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H.R.D. POLICIES AND PRACTICES IN PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS

H.R.D. POLICIES AND PRACTICES IN PUBLIC  SECTOR BANKS
PREFACE

With great pain, agony and distress, I write this. The public sector banks have of late
turned into unfair, exploitative, hostile and unhealthy organizations to their own personnel
and this development has taken place especially during the last 7 years. Most of the staff
members have begun to feel it is no longer safe to continue in the bank’s service. Many staff
are driven to the decision of putting in their papers under VRS or otherwise. It is a pity that
many officers are laying down their lives while in service due to the unbearable stress and the
ill-treatment at the hands of the management. Where are the public sector banks heading to?

RECRUITMENT AND DEPLOYMENT

There is no scientific manpower planning done in accordance with the business growth,
expansion of branch network and the additional types of businesses acquired, products
introduced, technological changes taking place, market competition and other factors like
superannuation and resignation of staff etc. Again, whatever little done on this front is only
an ad hoc measure, meeting the short term needs of the organization. There must be
proper vision for the long term which must be followed by meticulous planning and execution
of such plans in stages without losing continuity, thereby ensuring smooth transition
from one phase to the next one. Most importantly, there is lack of transparency
in this vital area, leading to loss of credibility. This puts a question mark on the future of the
public sector banks themselves. How pathetic!

PLACEMENTS

Placement is one area the meaning of which is not known to the managements at present. Personnel
are given placements haphazardly, solely at the whims and fancies of those at the helm of affairs.
Unfortunately, the managements in various banks have not learnt enough lessons from their past
mistakes in this regard. Proximity to those in power and the personal
equations based on caste, language, region, religion and reciprocal favours given/received
decide such issues. On the other extreme, those who remain in remote corners or in the loop do
not have any kind of access even to bring their achievements to the notice of their superiors,
leave alone developing healthy personal relationships with them. This deprives them of
their due share in the institution. This is another injustice being witnessed for ages.
Job rotation is a must not only within a unit but also across all units – Branches, Zonal Offices, Head
Office etc. Not a single person must be retained at one place or one post for more than 3 years. Even
before a person completes 2 years in a place/post, another person must be identified and suitably
groomed to take his/her seat, after the former completes 3 years. This will ensure that nobody is
indispensable in the organization and everybody gets equal opportunity to reach any place and
occupy any position, subject to one’s willingness and aptitude.
Personnel working at administrative offices
(Zonal Office/Head Office/STC/IIB etc.) must be
deputed to busy branches for at least 45 days in
a year, with not less than 15 days at a stretch.

This will achieve four objectives.

1. They will be exposed to the ground realities and understand the practical
problems faced by the branches in all areas.
2. They will develop a pragmatic outlook while dealing with the branches.
3. They will not exhibit rude and arrogant behavior and will learn to be polite and
courteous to their own colleagues working on the field.
4. Most importantly, they will realize and remember that they will also be posted to
branches one day and this makes them behave sensibly and responsibly.

TREATING STAFF WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT

Nowadays, banks always talk about customers’ delight. But what about the delight of their
own personnel? They shall not be treated like inanimate objects, with no family and social
responsibilities. It shall never be forgotten that regardless of the
type of leadership, staff in public sector banks have always strived hard and contributed their
best to take our banking industry to its present position. Staff of public sector banks are no
way inferior to the staff of the private sector banks (old generation or new generation ones)
and it has been proved beyond doubt on many occasions. Even our political masters have
publicly acknowledged that only because of the public sector characteristic of major Indian
Banks, our economy has withstood the turbulence and turmoil witnessed by the
American and European banks. We were not affected by the South East Asian crisis (late
1990s) and the Global recession caused by sub- prime crisis originated from USA during the
period 2007-09. Most of the officers in the public sector banks
are now performing clerical and sub-staff duties, thereby losing respect in the eyes of the
general public. We can see even the branch heads in MMGS III or SMGS IV doing clerical
work or counter work every now and then. They have lost their pride of place enjoyed by
them, a few decades ago. Even within their families, because of their inability to live up to
the expectations and fulfill the demands of other members, they have fallen down from the high
pedestal. Managers are unable to concentrate fully on
business. Lot of their time is wasted on resolving customer complaints and on house-
keeping. True, computerization has addressed many problems of the customers and increased
the customer satisfaction. But, the risks and responsibilities and the working hours of the
bank officers have kept on increasing each year. Officer staff are abused, ill-treated and humiliated at
various places, on various occasions. This has now become the order of the day and also an inseparable part of the organizational culture. It is difficult to believe that this phenomenon is not brought to the knowledge of the top management of the individual
banks or IBA or RBI or Ministry of Finance by anyone. Leave for valid and genuine reasons is often denied, even for shorter duration. At many places, staff are compelled to attend office on Sundays and other holidays on the pretext of some urgent work. Recovery Drives and Road Shows are deliberately
conducted on Sundays and other holidays. Managers’ Conferences and Review meetings are
conducted on Saturday afternoons. All such things not only deprive the officers of their valuable time,
but does grave injustice to the other members of the
officer’s family who look up to the officer for some help, care and physical support at least on such
designated holidays. Thus, the whole family gets frustrated and anguished. This is another area
where the managements of the public sector banks have earned the displeasure and wrath of their own staff and their families. On working days too, taking well-deserved breaks
for 5 or 10 minutes after every 2 hours of hectic and serious work is viewed with disdain and
disapproval. Personnel having conversation with neighbours (colleagues occupying the adjacent
seats) in the office are frowned upon, as though they shirk their responsibility, idle away their time in the office and just loiter around, disturbing other serious workers too. But this kind of thinking will
develop only in the minds of perverted persons who are ignorant of group dynamics and who consider
human beings also as any other machine without any feeling, emotional needs or social pressure.
Personnel are unable to take their lunch or supper at the scheduled time, because of the work pressure, continuous nagging by their bosses and long hours of work. This affects their morale and motivation and it gets reflected in the quality of their output. As another consequence, these officers lose their emotional balance, ruining and shattering their self- confidence and stability. They lose their
concentration in the work and commit mistakes also, without their being aware of it.
It is a big tragedy that the physical and mental health of the officer personnel today has been
greatly affected, as compared to their counterparts a few decades ago. Hypertension, Diabetes,
Neurological disorders, Displaced aggression, Impaired vision (eye-sight) and Shortened life span
are all the gifts of the present day’s work culture. People are required to come to the office even when
they are ill or someone in their family is seriously ill. They are expected to perform their regular and
special duties, without any break. No consideration or leniency is shown to people with personal
problems (except physical handicap). Thus, people are treated on a par with senseless machines and
domestic animals. The managements have never attempted to analyze as
to why so many officers take pre-mature retirement (VRS) or what are the causes that result in so many officers’ death, while in service. Answers to these questions require deeper and impartial probe with an open mind and once the answers are found, they will truly be an eye-opener for the managements of the public sector banks. Then, it is hoped, the bank
managements will redraw their policies and practices so as to function as a fair and responsible
employer in the banking industry. Now there seems to be a disconnect between the
actual performance and reward in the form of promotion. Several other extraneous factors
like relationship with the boss, external influences, caste factor, regionalism, religious
affinity, nepotism, political connections etc. greatly decide the promotions given.
Sycophants and ‘Yes men’ move up faster in the organizational hierarchy than others. This
seriously undermines the promotion process and it adversely affects the credibility of the
system itself. Some of the other lacunae and instances of
unfairness and injustice found are: Some people are retained at critical places or
given sensitive and important assignments. Yet, they are not given promotions in time.
This conveys a bad message that while their services are so important to the bank, they are
not important to the bank. There is total secrecy with regard to the marks
secured by the candidates in various areas like performance appraisal, written test and interview.
Absence of transparency in this regard puts the
entire promotion process under a cloud. We often
hear of manipulations at various stages and by
various persons/agencies in the promotion process.
If one observes the number of persons promoted
from various places, usually the Head Office
personnel take a major slice of the cake
followed by people at administrative offices and
metros. The poor, disadvantaged sections are
from rural and semi-urban centres.
Number of promotions at various levels/grades must
be in specific proportion to the growth in volume of
business, profitability and branch network/number
of delivery channels. If we study the past trend, the
ratio/percentage of growth in the number of
vacancies in the SMGS V and above has been far
higher than the ratio/percentage of increase in the
number of vacancies in other ranks/grades up to
SMGS IV. This has resulted in skewed, lopsided staff
disposition leading to frustration and despondency
of staff at the lower levels of the banks. It is an
unhealthy trend and is certainly not in the larger
interests of the state owned banks.
If one looks at the number of promotions made
to SMGS V and above during the last 20 years,
in relation to the total business growth, they
far outweigh the proportionate promotions
received by the lower level staff. Even during
the worst period of 2001 to 2011 in the annals
of the public sector banks, promotions to top
slots were never stopped and there is no clear
cut road map for the career progression of
lower level staff. But, who bothered?
The usual time taken for anyone to get promotion
must be 3 to 7 years. It means no one shall be
promoted before the completion of 3 years tenure in
one particular grade and no one shall be denied
promotion beyond 7 years in that grade. Of course,
there may be exceptions as far as the maximum
period is concerned. But, they shall not constitute
more than 10% of the eligible population and they
must be for valid and well known reasons only.
Where there is openness and transparency, chances
of foul play will be very less.
After 10 years in a particular grade/scale,
automatic promotion must be given, unless
there is prima facie a serious charge of fraud,
malpractice, cheating or embezzlement against
the staff concerned.
It will be apt to recall the words of Dr. White
who said “A badly planned promotion system
harms an organization not merely by pushing
ahead unqualified persons but also by
undermining the morale of the whole group”.
YOUNG VERSUS OLD
It does not fit into any logic or rationale as to
why young people with or without professional
qualifications are given royal treatment in
training, transfers and promotions. They are
given prime postings in urban and metro
centers and offered prestigious assignments.
This makes them derive undue and unfair
advantage over others with considerable
experience in various spheres of banking.
Moreover, young persons without any
knowledge of banking – both at macro and
micro levels – are directly absorbed at MMGS II
level by means of campus recruitment or
through routine recruitment process.
Unfortunately, candidates from less known or
unknown institutions with lower pedagogic
standards and popularity rating in their arena
are also employed under this so called
‘professional’ category, without the banks
verifying the value of their degrees in the
market place.
In contrast, the experienced officers are given a
raw deal in every aspect. While their services
are requisitioned for all problem-solving
activities and crisis management, they are
always discriminated against. They are taken
for granted and are made to sit late hours
almost every day to complete all the routine and
critical jobs. They are over-burdened with a lot
of responsibilities but an impression is sought
to be created in the minds of others that these
senior officers are slow, inefficient and
irresponsible.
At the same time, no one ever bothers to see
youngsters who receive almost equal
(sometimes better) pay than their seniors,
leaving the office early in the evenings.
Similarly, no one ever questions the youngsters
when they flatly refuse to work on Sundays and
other holidays, whereas the seniors are
compelled to work on Sundays and other
holidays now and then without any reward or
recognition for their extra services. It is often
noticed that these young officers argue with
their seniors and superiors without any regard
for their age, position and seniority. Even many
legitimate instructions given by their immediate
superiors are given scant regard and rejected
outright by these youngsters. It is not
uncommon to see the seniors taking up and
successfully completing the jobs rejected and
disowned by their juniors. Yet, the young
officers concerned are neither punished nor
admonished. This gives such young officers
more courage to repeat what they did.
There is another mistaken notion about the
experienced officers. They are viewed as
obsolete by the management, whereas their
juniors below the age of 32 years are presumed
to be tech-savvy, but it is not true in all the
cases. There are a good number of tech-savvy
people amongst the senior officers, with
professional qualifications like MBA, MCA, ACA,
ICWA, CFA, LLB, ACS, CAIIB etc. and rich and
varied exposure in Credit, Foreign Exchange,
Marketing, Public Relations and Branch
Management. No importance is being given to
them and most of them are neglected when it
comes to promotion. They remain a frustrated
lot, cursing their fate, because they are on the
wrong side of their age.
Though the management is aware of the high
rate of attrition amongst such young officers
(direct recruits), it shuts its eyes and goes on to
pamper them with quicker promotions. What
such officers do in return for such favours
received? They merrily enjoy all the privileges
extended during their stay in the bank, accept
quicker promotions and leave the bank after a
short period say, 3 to 7 years, availing
themselves of the offers they get from the
market rivals. They never feel guilty of their
behavior.
They do not realize the value of the promotions
received without the much needed banking
knowledge and requisite experience and they
never undergo the travails of the whole
promotion process, as compared to their
seniors. The banks that went out of the way to
give them speedy promotion are used as a
ladder or a stepping stone or a launching pad
by them. The managements are not put to
shame by their sheer, unforgivable disloyalty
and betrayal.
The thrust of the arguments put forward here
is the managements must learn to recognize
and accord proper weightage to those senior
officers with rich and varied experience in
different spheres of banking and also possessing
good knowledge regarding the latest
technological trends and developments and
having hands on experience in the latest
technological tools, systems and processes to a
fair measure. Dynamism and lateral thinking
are also not lacking in many senior officers. In
fact, they are the people who are first sent to
places of serious problems like frauds, burglary,
customers’ complaints, public protests and any
other serious problems. They have successfully
faced any explosive situation and solved such
organizational problems with their domain
knowledge, rich experience, strong emotional
stability and sharp acumen.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Branch Heads and Officers must be protected
against genuine commercial risks. For no fault
of theirs, they are now being victimized if at all
there is a willful default on the part of the
borrowers. They are held accountable for
certain lapses of their colleagues and also
unintentional errors and some small mistakes
of their own.
Vigilance tag is unnecessarily attached to many
staff accountability studies now, even though no
fraud, malpractice, malfeasance, complicity,
collusion, connivance and corruption of the staff
concerned are found. This is openly acknowledged
by the representatives of the management
themselves, albeit orally and informally.
But, there appears to be a wrong perception on the
part of the managements that any staff
accountability study must necessarily result in
conviction and punishment of at least one or a few
staff members and then only the relative case file
can be allowed to be closed even for certain alleged
procedural lapses. This sadistic outlook must
change.
Systems and Practices in place in different public
sector banks must be studied, compared and
analyzed and the best positive reforms are to be
identified and introduced in each bank, to restore
the confidence of the officer community and to
boost their sagging morale. The innocent officers
are to be shielded and saved by the management like
a mother protecting her young ones even when her
own life is in peril.
Now let’s us see what happens in the domestic
enquiry proceedings.
With the selection of the entire team of
Presenting Officer, Enquiry Officer and
Management Witnesses in the hands of the
management, their findings/deposition are not
taken into account and given due consideration,
while arriving at the final decision especially
when such findings/deposition do not match the
‘anticipated outcome’ of the management. All
the bank records, duly authenticated by
responsible managers and taken as ‘defence
exhibits’ are not at all given due importance by
the management. The management
conveniently disregards and brushes aside all
such concrete documentary evidences, if they
are on the side of the accused officials. The facts
are given a bizarre twist to suit the capricious
ideas of those who have a final say.
While awarding punishment too, the issues of
favouritism and discrimination are amply present
due to extraneous factors. Even where the likely
loss is small, stringent punishment is awarded
knowing fully well the staff concerned is an honest,
efficient and otherwise successful officer/manager.
Similarly, even where the account in question is closed
under ‘OTS’ despite the bank having sufficient
securities to fall upon, deterrent punishment is meted
out to the manager/officer. What kind of justice is it?
Next at the appeal stage, it is invariably turned
down without assigning any cogent and
convincing reasons and the penalty once
decided and communicated is always upheld.
Fair, objective and independent examination of
all materials on hand is not undertaken and
unbiased decisions are not made.
Thus it is evident there is no place for fair-play
and it is nothing but a mockery and subversion
of justice.
‘Vicarious responsibility’ is fixed on the
managers/officers at the branches for whatever
mistakes/blunders/financial impropriety of their
sub-ordinates/colleagues, but the same
yardstick is not applied to Zonal Managers and
above. If the advances under GM/ED/CMD/
Board powers fail, no one is held accountable.
Similarly, if any decision (indecision too) or
action (inaction too) of GM and above results in
substantial loss to the bank, no one is ever
booked. To add insult to the injury, the branch
managers are sacrificed for the mistakes and
lapses of officials at Zonal Office and Head
Office, as seen in many cases. Is this not a clear
case of arbitrariness, selective targeting and
discrimination? Is that not quite atrocious?
Are the officers working at the branches mere
sacrificial lambs at the sacred altar of the
management?
The prevailing climate at the branches is too
harsh, unfavourable and rough for a good
manager to function freely in the today’s
context. If this is continued for a few more
years, it will definitely spell doom for all public
sector banks in future. Before it happens, the
respective managements, Trade Unions, IBA,
RBI and Ministry of Finance must take some
concrete measures to restore the confidence of
the field staff and give them some kind of
reassurance to work fearlessly while expanding
the public sector banks’ business.
The only motto of the the public sector banks
must be “Live and let live; grow and let grow
and prosper and let prosper”, because the paths
of the organization and the whole time
personnel working in it cannot be any different.
And the pace of growth of both shall be even
and parallel.

H.R.D. POLICIES AND PRACTICES IN PUBLIC  SECTOR BANKS
PREFACE

With great pain, agony and distress, I write this. The public sector banks have of late
turned into unfair, exploitative, hostile and unhealthy organizations to their own personnel
and this development has taken place especially during the last 7 years. Most of the staff
members have begun to feel it is no longer safe to continue in the bank’s service. Many staff
are driven to the decision of putting in their papers under VRS or otherwise. It is a pity that
many officers are laying down their lives while in service due to the unbearable stress and the
ill-treatment at the hands of the management. Where are the public sector banks heading to?

RECRUITMENT AND DEPLOYMENT

There is no scientific manpower planning done in accordance with the business growth,
expansion of branch network and the additional types of businesses acquired, products
introduced, technological changes taking place, market competition and other factors like
superannuation and resignation of staff etc. Again, whatever little done on this front is only
an ad hoc measure, meeting the short term needs of the organization. There must be
proper vision for the long term which must be followed by meticulous planning and execution
of such plans in stages without losing continuity, thereby ensuring smooth transition
from one phase to the next one. Most importantly, there is lack of transparency
in this vital area, leading to loss of credibility. This puts a question mark on the future of the
public sector banks themselves. How pathetic!

PLACEMENTS

Placement is one area the meaning of which is not known to the managements at present. Personnel
are given placements haphazardly, solely at the whims and fancies of those at the helm of affairs.
Unfortunately, the managements in various banks have not learnt enough lessons from their past
mistakes in this regard. Proximity to those in power and the personal
equations based on caste, language, region, religion and reciprocal favours given/received
decide such issues. On the other extreme, those who remain in remote corners or in the loop do
not have any kind of access even to bring their achievements to the notice of their superiors,
leave alone developing healthy personal relationships with them. This deprives them of
their due share in the institution. This is another injustice being witnessed for ages.
Job rotation is a must not only within a unit but also across all units – Branches, Zonal Offices, Head
Office etc. Not a single person must be retained at one place or one post for more than 3 years. Even
before a person completes 2 years in a place/post, another person must be identified and suitably
groomed to take his/her seat, after the former completes 3 years. This will ensure that nobody is
indispensable in the organization and everybody gets equal opportunity to reach any place and
occupy any position, subject to one’s willingness and aptitude.
Personnel working at administrative offices
(Zonal Office/Head Office/STC/IIB etc.) must be
deputed to busy branches for at least 45 days in
a year, with not less than 15 days at a stretch.

This will achieve four objectives.

1. They will be exposed to the ground realities and understand the practical
problems faced by the branches in all areas.
2. They will develop a pragmatic outlook while dealing with the branches.
3. They will not exhibit rude and arrogant behavior and will learn to be polite and
courteous to their own colleagues working on the field.
4. Most importantly, they will realize and remember that they will also be posted to
branches one day and this makes them behave sensibly and responsibly.

TREATING STAFF WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT

Nowadays, banks always talk about customers’ delight. But what about the delight of their
own personnel? They shall not be treated like inanimate objects, with no family and social
responsibilities. It shall never be forgotten that regardless of the
type of leadership, staff in public sector banks have always strived hard and contributed their
best to take our banking industry to its present position. Staff of public sector banks are no
way inferior to the staff of the private sector banks (old generation or new generation ones)
and it has been proved beyond doubt on many occasions. Even our political masters have
publicly acknowledged that only because of the public sector characteristic of major Indian
Banks, our economy has withstood the turbulence and turmoil witnessed by the
American and European banks. We were not affected by the South East Asian crisis (late
1990s) and the Global recession caused by sub- prime crisis originated from USA during the
period 2007-09. Most of the officers in the public sector banks
are now performing clerical and sub-staff duties, thereby losing respect in the eyes of the
general public. We can see even the branch heads in MMGS III or SMGS IV doing clerical
work or counter work every now and then. They have lost their pride of place enjoyed by
them, a few decades ago. Even within their families, because of their inability to live up to
the expectations and fulfill the demands of other members, they have fallen down from the high
pedestal. Managers are unable to concentrate fully on
business. Lot of their time is wasted on resolving customer complaints and on house-
keeping. True, computerization has addressed many problems of the customers and increased
the customer satisfaction. But, the risks and responsibilities and the working hours of the
bank officers have kept on increasing each year. Officer staff are abused, ill-treated and humiliated at
various places, on various occasions. This has now become the order of the day and also an inseparable part of the organizational culture. It is difficult to believe that this phenomenon is not brought to the knowledge of the top management of the individual
banks or IBA or RBI or Ministry of Finance by anyone. Leave for valid and genuine reasons is often denied, even for shorter duration. At many places, staff are compelled to attend office on Sundays and other holidays on the pretext of some urgent work. Recovery Drives and Road Shows are deliberately
conducted on Sundays and other holidays. Managers’ Conferences and Review meetings are
conducted on Saturday afternoons. All such things not only deprive the officers of their valuable time,
but does grave injustice to the other members of the
officer’s family who look up to the officer for some help, care and physical support at least on such
designated holidays. Thus, the whole family gets frustrated and anguished. This is another area
where the managements of the public sector banks have earned the displeasure and wrath of their own staff and their families. On working days too, taking well-deserved breaks
for 5 or 10 minutes after every 2 hours of hectic and serious work is viewed with disdain and
disapproval. Personnel having conversation with neighbours (colleagues occupying the adjacent
seats) in the office are frowned upon, as though they shirk their responsibility, idle away their time in the office and just loiter around, disturbing other serious workers too. But this kind of thinking will
develop only in the minds of perverted persons who are ignorant of group dynamics and who consider
human beings also as any other machine without any feeling, emotional needs or social pressure.
Personnel are unable to take their lunch or supper at the scheduled time, because of the work pressure, continuous nagging by their bosses and long hours of work. This affects their morale and motivation and it gets reflected in the quality of their output. As another consequence, these officers lose their emotional balance, ruining and shattering their self- confidence and stability. They lose their
concentration in the work and commit mistakes also, without their being aware of it.
It is a big tragedy that the physical and mental health of the officer personnel today has been
greatly affected, as compared to their counterparts a few decades ago. Hypertension, Diabetes,
Neurological disorders, Displaced aggression, Impaired vision (eye-sight) and Shortened life span
are all the gifts of the present day’s work culture. People are required to come to the office even when
they are ill or someone in their family is seriously ill. They are expected to perform their regular and
special duties, without any break. No consideration or leniency is shown to people with personal
problems (except physical handicap). Thus, people are treated on a par with senseless machines and
domestic animals. The managements have never attempted to analyze as
to why so many officers take pre-mature retirement (VRS) or what are the causes that result in so many officers’ death, while in service. Answers to these questions require deeper and impartial probe with an open mind and once the answers are found, they will truly be an eye-opener for the managements of the public sector banks. Then, it is hoped, the bank
managements will redraw their policies and practices so as to function as a fair and responsible
employer in the banking industry. Now there seems to be a disconnect between the
actual performance and reward in the form of promotion. Several other extraneous factors
like relationship with the boss, external influences, caste factor, regionalism, religious
affinity, nepotism, political connections etc. greatly decide the promotions given.
Sycophants and ‘Yes men’ move up faster in the organizational hierarchy than others. This
seriously undermines the promotion process and it adversely affects the credibility of the
system itself. Some of the other lacunae and instances of
unfairness and injustice found are: Some people are retained at critical places or
given sensitive and important assignments. Yet, they are not given promotions in time.
This conveys a bad message that while their services are so important to the bank, they are
not important to the bank. There is total secrecy with regard to the marks
secured by the candidates in various areas like performance appraisal, written test and interview.
Absence of transparency in this regard puts the
entire promotion process under a cloud. We often
hear of manipulations at various stages and by
various persons/agencies in the promotion process.
If one observes the number of persons promoted
from various places, usually the Head Office
personnel take a major slice of the cake
followed by people at administrative offices and
metros. The poor, disadvantaged sections are
from rural and semi-urban centres.
Number of promotions at various levels/grades must
be in specific proportion to the growth in volume of
business, profitability and branch network/number
of delivery channels. If we study the past trend, the
ratio/percentage of growth in the number of
vacancies in the SMGS V and above has been far
higher than the ratio/percentage of increase in the
number of vacancies in other ranks/grades up to
SMGS IV. This has resulted in skewed, lopsided staff
disposition leading to frustration and despondency
of staff at the lower levels of the banks. It is an
unhealthy trend and is certainly not in the larger
interests of the state owned banks.
If one looks at the number of promotions made
to SMGS V and above during the last 20 years,
in relation to the total business growth, they
far outweigh the proportionate promotions
received by the lower level staff. Even during
the worst period of 2001 to 2011 in the annals
of the public sector banks, promotions to top
slots were never stopped and there is no clear
cut road map for the career progression of
lower level staff. But, who bothered?
The usual time taken for anyone to get promotion
must be 3 to 7 years. It means no one shall be
promoted before the completion of 3 years tenure in
one particular grade and no one shall be denied
promotion beyond 7 years in that grade. Of course,
there may be exceptions as far as the maximum
period is concerned. But, they shall not constitute
more than 10% of the eligible population and they
must be for valid and well known reasons only.
Where there is openness and transparency, chances
of foul play will be very less.
After 10 years in a particular grade/scale,
automatic promotion must be given, unless
there is prima facie a serious charge of fraud,
malpractice, cheating or embezzlement against
the staff concerned.
It will be apt to recall the words of Dr. White
who said “A badly planned promotion system
harms an organization not merely by pushing
ahead unqualified persons but also by
undermining the morale of the whole group”.
YOUNG VERSUS OLD
It does not fit into any logic or rationale as to
why young people with or without professional
qualifications are given royal treatment in
training, transfers and promotions. They are
given prime postings in urban and metro
centers and offered prestigious assignments.
This makes them derive undue and unfair
advantage over others with considerable
experience in various spheres of banking.
Moreover, young persons without any
knowledge of banking – both at macro and
micro levels – are directly absorbed at MMGS II
level by means of campus recruitment or
through routine recruitment process.
Unfortunately, candidates from less known or
unknown institutions with lower pedagogic
standards and popularity rating in their arena
are also employed under this so called
‘professional’ category, without the banks
verifying the value of their degrees in the
market place.
In contrast, the experienced officers are given a
raw deal in every aspect. While their services
are requisitioned for all problem-solving
activities and crisis management, they are
always discriminated against. They are taken
for granted and are made to sit late hours
almost every day to complete all the routine and
critical jobs. They are over-burdened with a lot
of responsibilities but an impression is sought
to be created in the minds of others that these
senior officers are slow, inefficient and
irresponsible.
At the same time, no one ever bothers to see
youngsters who receive almost equal
(sometimes better) pay than their seniors,
leaving the office early in the evenings.
Similarly, no one ever questions the youngsters
when they flatly refuse to work on Sundays and
other holidays, whereas the seniors are
compelled to work on Sundays and other
holidays now and then without any reward or
recognition for their extra services. It is often
noticed that these young officers argue with
their seniors and superiors without any regard
for their age, position and seniority. Even many
legitimate instructions given by their immediate
superiors are given scant regard and rejected
outright by these youngsters. It is not
uncommon to see the seniors taking up and
successfully completing the jobs rejected and
disowned by their juniors. Yet, the young
officers concerned are neither punished nor
admonished. This gives such young officers
more courage to repeat what they did.
There is another mistaken notion about the
experienced officers. They are viewed as
obsolete by the management, whereas their
juniors below the age of 32 years are presumed
to be tech-savvy, but it is not true in all the
cases. There are a good number of tech-savvy
people amongst the senior officers, with
professional qualifications like MBA, MCA, ACA,
ICWA, CFA, LLB, ACS, CAIIB etc. and rich and
varied exposure in Credit, Foreign Exchange,
Marketing, Public Relations and Branch
Management. No importance is being given to
them and most of them are neglected when it
comes to promotion. They remain a frustrated
lot, cursing their fate, because they are on the
wrong side of their age.
Though the management is aware of the high
rate of attrition amongst such young officers
(direct recruits), it shuts its eyes and goes on to
pamper them with quicker promotions. What
such officers do in return for such favours
received? They merrily enjoy all the privileges
extended during their stay in the bank, accept
quicker promotions and leave the bank after a
short period say, 3 to 7 years, availing
themselves of the offers they get from the
market rivals. They never feel guilty of their
behavior.
They do not realize the value of the promotions
received without the much needed banking
knowledge and requisite experience and they
never undergo the travails of the whole
promotion process, as compared to their
seniors. The banks that went out of the way to
give them speedy promotion are used as a
ladder or a stepping stone or a launching pad
by them. The managements are not put to
shame by their sheer, unforgivable disloyalty
and betrayal.
The thrust of the arguments put forward here
is the managements must learn to recognize
and accord proper weightage to those senior
officers with rich and varied experience in
different spheres of banking and also possessing
good knowledge regarding the latest
technological trends and developments and
having hands on experience in the latest
technological tools, systems and processes to a
fair measure. Dynamism and lateral thinking
are also not lacking in many senior officers. In
fact, they are the people who are first sent to
places of serious problems like frauds, burglary,
customers’ complaints, public protests and any
other serious problems. They have successfully
faced any explosive situation and solved such
organizational problems with their domain
knowledge, rich experience, strong emotional
stability and sharp acumen.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Branch Heads and Officers must be protected
against genuine commercial risks. For no fault
of theirs, they are now being victimized if at all
there is a willful default on the part of the
borrowers. They are held accountable for
certain lapses of their colleagues and also
unintentional errors and some small mistakes
of their own.
Vigilance tag is unnecessarily attached to many
staff accountability studies now, even though no
fraud, malpractice, malfeasance, complicity,
collusion, connivance and corruption of the staff
concerned are found. This is openly acknowledged
by the representatives of the management
themselves, albeit orally and informally.
But, there appears to be a wrong perception on the
part of the managements that any staff
accountability study must necessarily result in
conviction and punishment of at least one or a few
staff members and then only the relative case file
can be allowed to be closed even for certain alleged
procedural lapses. This sadistic outlook must
change.
Systems and Practices in place in different public
sector banks must be studied, compared and
analyzed and the best positive reforms are to be
identified and introduced in each bank, to restore
the confidence of the officer community and to
boost their sagging morale. The innocent officers
are to be shielded and saved by the management like
a mother protecting her young ones even when her
own life is in peril.
Now let’s us see what happens in the domestic
enquiry proceedings.
With the selection of the entire team of
Presenting Officer, Enquiry Officer and
Management Witnesses in the hands of the
management, their findings/deposition are not
taken into account and given due consideration,
while arriving at the final decision especially
when such findings/deposition do not match the
‘anticipated outcome’ of the management. All
the bank records, duly authenticated by
responsible managers and taken as ‘defence
exhibits’ are not at all given due importance by
the management. The management
conveniently disregards and brushes aside all
such concrete documentary evidences, if they
are on the side of the accused officials. The facts
are given a bizarre twist to suit the capricious
ideas of those who have a final say.
While awarding punishment too, the issues of
favouritism and discrimination are amply present
due to extraneous factors. Even where the likely
loss is small, stringent punishment is awarded
knowing fully well the staff concerned is an honest,
efficient and otherwise successful officer/manager.
Similarly, even where the account in question is closed
under ‘OTS’ despite the bank having sufficient
securities to fall upon, deterrent punishment is meted
out to the manager/officer. What kind of justice is it?
Next at the appeal stage, it is invariably turned
down without assigning any cogent and
convincing reasons and the penalty once
decided and communicated is always upheld.
Fair, objective and independent examination of
all materials on hand is not undertaken and
unbiased decisions are not made.
Thus it is evident there is no place for fair-play
and it is nothing but a mockery and subversion
of justice.
‘Vicarious responsibility’ is fixed on the
managers/officers at the branches for whatever
mistakes/blunders/financial impropriety of their
sub-ordinates/colleagues, but the same
yardstick is not applied to Zonal Managers and
above. If the advances under GM/ED/CMD/
Board powers fail, no one is held accountable.
Similarly, if any decision (indecision too) or
action (inaction too) of GM and above results in
substantial loss to the bank, no one is ever
booked. To add insult to the injury, the branch
managers are sacrificed for the mistakes and
lapses of officials at Zonal Office and Head
Office, as seen in many cases. Is this not a clear
case of arbitrariness, selective targeting and
discrimination? Is that not quite atrocious?
Are the officers working at the branches mere
sacrificial lambs at the sacred altar of the
management?
The prevailing climate at the branches is too
harsh, unfavourable and rough for a good
manager to function freely in the today’s
context. If this is continued for a few more
years, it will definitely spell doom for all public
sector banks in future. Before it happens, the
respective managements, Trade Unions, IBA,
RBI and Ministry of Finance must take some
concrete measures to restore the confidence of
the field staff and give them some kind of
reassurance to work fearlessly while expanding
the public sector banks’ business.
The only motto of the the public sector banks
must be “Live and let live; grow and let grow
and prosper and let prosper”, because the paths
of the organization and the whole time
personnel working in it cannot be any different.
And the pace of growth of both shall be even
and parallel.



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