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The futility of targets without sustainable process and strategy

Dede, in my bank, we have all been given a target. My own target is bring in N15m before end of December 2009. Our manager says he doesn’t care how we do it.

All he wants is the result. He goes further to say, if you are a Christian, you can fast, pray or go to camp, ..if you prefer the native way, then go to a native doctor or herbalist, anything you like, go ahead, so long as you get the result. Kachi, my nephew who got a new job in an established first generation Nigerian bank complaining to me on the target given to him.

IS there anything wrong with productivity and sales goals to employees?
The simple answer is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with issuing targets for the workforce. In fact, a workplace without targets will soon result in total complacency and indolence given the proclivity for the easier option in human behavioural dynamics.

Managers and business owners have targets derived by their positions and not necessarily out of greed. Business owners and executives know they have the responsibility to pay not only the salaries and benefits for employees; they also have to foot the bills for rents, telephone, logistics, marketing, advertising, customer service, stationeries, legal services and lots more. Considerations for pension funding, growth and expansion must also be made. These bills are real and cannot be wished away. While the individual employee is focused only on his or her benefits, many rarely consider the financial pressures on the business owners.

Many employees in Nigeria do not even realize that although their specific salaries may be small in comparison to the company revenue, the continuity of their employment and salaries is tied to the company’s profits.

The pressure to meet the financial demands of maintaining a healthy workforce, network, marketing and other overheads when combined with the investor/shareholder expectations for huge profits can sometimes be overwhelming for even the toughest of leaders and executives.

Our bank directors are very much under these pressure loads. It may have been easier to deal with these pressures but there are other issues that have significantly increased the burden on the bank executives leading to the shameful situation where directors and Managers demand extreme levels of productivity without respect for process and procedures. We’ll briefly examine some of these.

Failure of a national value system: In the way that I have always argued, just as our government officials are products of our environment, our bank executives are also members of our society. Consequently, the collapse of a noble value system has resulted in a prevalent culture that elevates and recognizes quick riches and wealth at the expense of due process.

Invariably, we find ourselves pursuing results using all sorts of “smart” moves that by-pass processes and strategies, content with the saying “the end justifies the means.” As a result, we experience sporadic, disjointed and illusionary results or profits that are not repeatable because they were not based on any clear strategy, process or procedure.

The bank executives add enormous pressure on themselves in this regard by pursuing the hollow and vain agenda of being seen as the biggest bank and in the process violate all known expectations of sound risk management and corporate governance.

Desire to reap only and not sow: For those who have been unfortunate to lose valuable man-hours listening to bank marketers, you’ll recognize this aspect very well. Because we are all in hurry to make it, there is little patience to relate with anybody who is aspiring to make it or still in the gestation stages.

All the speech made by the marketers focus on helping the customer keep the money he has already made. False promises such as loan, banking support or other misleading innuendoes are made to lure you to deposit with them. When asked what differentiates their bank from another, you draw a blank. Some confess and plead with you to just make a deposit and that you can withdraw it the next day.

I’ve told some that if I was so into charity, I’d prefer to give them N100,000 cash than deposit N200m and lose N1m in COT and other charges in such transactions. The marketers simply have no training or background on adding value to prospective customers in a way that would encourage patronage.

For this reason, the senior executives can take up all sorts of odd roles at functions organized by the few multibillionaires in the country as “proactive marketing” to get a drop of business (deposit/loans) from them. Absolutely disgraceful. The same set of people get all the syndicated loans and credit facilities because nobody is interested in helping the creation of tomorrow’s multimillionaires.

This desperation has led to the banks using
promos with lure of winning cars, motorcycles, tv sets etc to attract deposits. Soon, promos will come with promise of winning a wife, free bride price or free US visa. Another avenue now being explored is to help state and Federal Government to collect revenues.

Home truth:As the banks go for another round of consolidation including the surreptitious issuing of bonds (some as high as N500b), if they do not change their get-rich-overnight mentality and start to invest in strategies that will add value to a wider range of customers, all funds acquired will go the same way as previous funds. Setting targets for staff is normal and expected. Setting targets without regard to the application of sustainable processes and strategies is simply incompetence.

The results will always bear this fact out.  The solution for the bank problem is simple but until they realize that process is superior to result, the groping in the dark will continue.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.