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How can Banks make their employees future ready

The world as we know is changing. Thanks to the development technology at a break neck speed. The industries have realised that and have started changing their strategies and operations. The Banking & Financial Services (BFS) industry is no exceptions. However this industry faces unique challenges as it is an eclectic mixture of regulatory, risk-associated, security-related concerns. May be due to these factors, BFS has taken a cautious approach towards the future. This industry wide uncertainty puts the Talent Managers of the BFS industry in a spot. What should they focus on to make their talent future ready?

Two things are clear: technology is becoming obsolete very quickly and the functional contours of the banking industry are being redrawn, given the impact of globalization. Thus planning a long term strategy for these two is challenging. However, talent transformation experts should now focus on enabling the workforce to become change ready, so that they can embrace change when it comes. It will ensure that your workforce is ready to make the most out of a changing world. Here are the four possible enablers (4Es) that banks could focus to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment:

1. Enhance the Learning Agility of your organization:

Even the giants of the banking industry, are intrigued by what is now called as the SMAC revolution (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud). Today going the social/mobile way gives an organization immense reach into the psyche of the customer. It enables collection of a huge amount of data which can be used to perfect your strategy. This is possible only by using big data analytics.  Though banks have woken up to it, they aren’t ready to leverage it fully.Given this trend of technological evolution, today’s banker should not only be a quick learner, he should be able to learn, unlearn and relearn very quickly. In other words he has to be agile in learning. This applies to people across levels in the organization. The L & D team should design programs that improve this agility, so that when a new trend emerges, your workforce can be the innovators – there by giving your bank a first mover advantage.

Every bank can define this learning agility as per its own requirements, but what is important is that, banks recognize the need for this skill and tweak their trainings based on this. They should make their workforce problems solvers.

2. Enable your employees to build deep relationship with the customer

In the previous point we discussed the potential of analytics, which dives into the treasure trove of information that flow to the banks. But the insights developed by using this data would go futile if it is not translated by your front ending team. This new found reach into social networks has given banks an opportunity to customize your offerings to a specific customer, may it be an individual or a corporate. Bank can now be a differentiator in terms of offering, instead of selling similar products or services.

But there are a few questions: would your customer trust you with his data? Will he let you influence his decisions? This will be possible only when your workforce is able to build and inspire the trust of your customers. So, they key focus area for delivering enhanced value is the ability to build trust based customer relationships. The L&D team has to ensure that your team is high on client centricity, consultative selling skills, and building trust based relationships. This is one competency that is never going to be out-dated.

3. Encourage Collaborative Learning

The changes in the environment may seem daunting and of course, they are if looked at from an individual’s perspective. Every small change out there, is having a domino effect, hence it is no longer possible for an individual or a department to stay abreast of the developments. Organizations have no option but to create a collaborative environment for learning and information sharing. The old assembly line approach of processing information before passing on to the next department is not valid anymore.

The L&D heads of banks should start internal social media for learning and sharing information. This will start virtual & voluntary coaching of the freshers by the experienced folks. The information will cut across channels and will become accessible to call. More importantly, it will help you crowd source ideas to solve tough problems. A collaborative attitude is essential for this scheme to work and hence banks should train the workforce to become collaborative not just with the clients but also with each other.

4. Engage the diverse, multi generation workforce

As usual the best is saved for the last. This enabler is a high risk high return one. The banks have no choice but embrace this trend. The workforce composition is changing; the Gen Y people are breaking age old dogmas. There is a need to more inclusive today as the Gen Y appreciates it. This means a diverse organization in terms of nationality, race, gender, age, beliefs and sexual preference. This diversity is a blessing in disguise, as it holds a variety of experience. If handled properly it will deliver great value.

The L&D team should enable everyone in the organization to leverage this diversity. This is the key skill upon which all other skills will rest. The banks should also relook on how they are going to retain the talent. A one size fits all retention program will not work with them. The skills enhancements should be timely, so that everyone is able to realise their aspiration. There by staying with the same organization.

These four enablers will not solve all your problems, but surely will help you build an army of problem solvers who will help you tide over an ever changing, competitive industry that banking is.


Madan Panathula,

Senior Learning Consultant at KNOLSKAPE

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