OJSC Gazprombank is one of Russia’s largest universal financial institutions, which provides a wide range of banking, financial, investment products and services to corporate and individual clients, financial institutions, institutional and private investors. The bank is one of the top three Russian banks and ranks fourth in the list of Central and Eastern European banks.
TASKS AND SOLUTIONS
This story started when management of Gazprombank was confronted with the task of assessing the Bank’s employees who interact with clients, in order to answer two questions:
- Assess the readiness of the bank’s employees to master products (including investment products) for subsequent effective sales.
- Determine the extent to which the bank’s client-facing employees have developed negotiating skills.
At this stage we knew that the sale of new products was one of the key business objectives for Gazprombank. Consequently, we started modeling competencies that focused on this strategic objective.
We should clarify now why we started developing the competency model even though we had already been given the assessment criteria, and answer the question whether it would have been possible to proceed without modeling. The fact is that these criteria were extremely blurred. While the second point on negotiating skills was more or less understandable, the first point clearly required clarifications. We needed to clarify the specific role that the client-facing specialist would pay in promoting new banking products, namely:
- the specific types of new products, who develops them and how the client-facing specialist knows about them;
- how client-facing specialists behave now, the scope of their responsibilities, and whether any changes to their functions had been proposed in connection with the bank’s development;
- what the management’s expectations of client-facing specialists are, what makes them happy and what they don’t like about their current work.
Consequently, in order to implement this project, we needed to analyze the work of client-facing specialists, which naturally led us to the competencies.
Another circumstance also favored the competencies. The bank planned over time to introduce a performance management system, including regular assessments of employee goals and also their competencies. In other words, the competencies were to be implemented in the bank in the foreseeable future, and this project represented the first pilot for the assessment.
The specifics of the development project were that based on Gazprombank’s structure, client-facing specialist – for the sake of simplicity we will call them client facers – worked in different divisions: Department of Strategic Clients, Department for the Development of the Client Base, Department of Capital Markets, Trust Management Department of Client Assets and Department of Operations on Financial Markets. Even if you have a poor understanding of the bank’s activities, you can surmise from the department names that the work of the client facers differed significantly, depending on the functional specifics of the division’s work. At the same time, the directors maintained that there were no significant differences in their activities. And this is what we had to work out by meeting the heads of all these departments.
The HR function of the bank was extremely coordinated – all the meetings were organized as soon as possible. During two weeks in August 2006 Detech consultants conducted a series of interviews with the Bank’s managers for the purpose of drafting the competency model for client-facing specialists.
However, this speed also had its drawbacks. In order to save time, some of the interviews were performed with two or three department heads at once, instead of individually. On the one hand, we had an opportunity to communicate with all the key executives. On the other hand, the holding of interviews simultaneously with several people complicated significantly the consultant’s task of collecting information.
Firstly, as the departments had different objectives, department managers had their own individual views as to how client-facing specialists should work. Even if on closer inspection their views did not differ fundamentally, they would use different words to describe similar concepts, thereby providing the impression that they were talking about different issues. It is only natural that they could not reach agreement during the interviews and also stressed that everything was performed in a slightly different way in their departments.
Secondly, they found it very hard to admit in each other’s presence that their departments had any problems and that their client facers did not always perform effectively.
Thirdly, in such circumstances we could not use the repertory grid method, which could have been very effective in this project.
In this situation, the decision to apply the attribute hierarchy method was a success. This made it possible to include the division heads in the active work. After notifying the heads of the rules on working with competency cards, the consultant only had to do one thing – keep detailed records of the comments of the heads when discussing various competencies. In addition, this method made it possible to obtain additional advantages:
- As the managers had been offered a set of standard competencies, they named the same behavior using identical words.
- During the group discussion the managers had to reach consensus on the specific competencies that are most important. Therefore they had to cite specific examples in order to convince colleagues of their choice, including negative examples.
Analysis of the collected information demonstrated that there were no material differences in the work of the client-facers of different departments in competency terminology. As a result we were able to compile a uniform list of eight competencies for this category of employees.
The readiness of the bank’s employees to master and promote new products was expressed in the following three competencies:
- Systematic thinking;
Meanwhile, in order to assess negotiating skills, it was necessary to assess such competencies as:
- Client Focus;
- Persuasive Communication;
- Building Relations.
КIn addition, two competencies of particular importance for work were highlighted: Corporate Attitude and Persistence. Here we would like to talk in particular about corporate attitude. Many companies often state that this competency is extremely important even though analysis of work shows that it is not. An exception to the rule is provided by the positions of client-facing specialist and sometimes other positions at banks, investment and insurance companies. Furthermore this competency, although it is also named at times in the same way, is defined in different ways, where the common feature is compliance with the company’s norms and work rules. In this Gazprombank model, corporate attitude is not only compliance with the norms, but also teamwork.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Within half a year of the successful implementation of the assessment project of client-facing specialists, the HR department, using its own resources and the competency model for client-facing specialists, the standard 20 dimensions competency model, created a list of competencies applicable to all the bank’s employees. A performance management system was developed, within the framework of which all the bank’s employees are assessed annually. The managers set goals for their subordinates and assess them at the end of the year, and also assess the development level of the competencies of their employees. These assessments serve as the basis for employee career development plans and the corporate training plan for the next year.