Changing Bank Environment Calls for New Management Style; Bank of America's Revised Human Resources Strategy Focuses on Flexibility and People Rather Than Procedures
Beck, Robert N., American Banker
The financial services industry is undergoing radical change. The passage from a highly regulated to a deregulated -- but competitive -- environment has forced us to rethink such fundamental issues as what we stand for, who we serve, and what the principles are by which we will operate our business in the future.
The nature and magnitude of this change means the future will continue to be ambiguous and we must respond with a strategy that is flexible and a management team whose style is based on people rather than procedures.
BankAmerica Corporation's (BAC) human resource strategy is changing to better support our business strategy. Our goals are to build flexibility into the organization, to provide a climate that unleashes the creativity and innovativeness in our people, and to ensure that these qualities are reinforced and rewarded at all levels of the business.
Risk-taking must replace rule-following, and the rewards for success must clearly outweight the penalties of failure. To meet this challenge, all human resource systems have been reviewed, modified, and/or strengthened accordingly and are tday in a state of considerable change.
In early 1983, our senior management evaluated its current culture to determineif the vision of what we stand for and intend to achieve was sufficiently clear and well understood. It also analyzed the values motivating the daily behavior of our employees to see if they were sufficiently in tandem with our heritage and future goals.
The results of this exercise were revealing. Some very fundamental issues had become blurred during a period of regulation and compliance, and the principles by which we wanted to manage our businesses were not uniforly understood. It was recognized, therefore, that in order to move an organization of our size in the right direction, our vision, values, and strategies needed to be much more clearly understood by all employees, customers, and communities.
As a result, senior management -- drawing heavily on employee input -- committed itself to clarifying our vision, values, and strategies and presenting them in a way that could be widely understood. The process helped bring back into focus a philosophy for the future that drew heavily on the tenets of the past.
In early 1984, the corporation's vision, values, and strategies were published in the form that could be widely distrubuted. The challenge now facing us is to integrate these concepts into the daily actions of our managers and employees.
From a human resource perspective, this process of integration involves: communication; the development of managers who embody the values of the organization; and recognition and reward systems that ensure that people are considered the organization's primary resource for meeting its business objectives. Even though achieving this goal will take several years -- or be ongoing -- significant progress has already been made in just six months.
Many of the management policies and practices here were based on a culture of compliance during years of heavy government regulation. The rigid bureaucracy created during this period developed in many managers a fear of risk taking. The result was a rule book orientation that no longer worked for managers in today's highly ambiguous, deregulated environment.
Managers still need guidance, but must also have the flexibility to take risks and make their own decisions within the context of clearly understood vision and values. Development of these managers now focuses on building skills they can use to help their employees cope with rapid organizational changes; to help them understand the mission of their organization; and to help them define their role an the contribution they can make toward the realization of that mission.
Training System Adapted
Increasingly, managers are concentrating departmental effort on the bank's success and inspiring employee goals that complement this thrust. …