Training Methods and Practices in Oceanic Bank International PLC

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INTRODUCTION

The importance of training in the human resource management efforts of any organisation cannot be overemphasised. That is why training is key to the survival of every human resource strategy of any given organisation. Employee training is becoming a necessity to every organization nowadays as training enables them to carryout roles and responsibilities efficiently and also learn new things, which will prepare them to take up higher responsibilities in the future (Karthikeyan, Karthi & Graf 2010).

Human relations management training, broadly conceived, is a popular means by which numerous public organizations seek to enhance productivity. Public managers consume prodigious quantities of management training and should be seriously concerned with the effectiveness and success of such intake (Gerald, 1989). Traditionally, training and development was not seen as actively that could help, organizations create value and successfully deal with competitive challenges (Oludairo, 2006). According to Cascio (2003), many organizations both small and large shy away from training their employed because they think that by improving the skills of their workforce, their employees will be more marketable to competitors. And where there are well training programmes, there are poorly implemented, like too much fine wine, may actually impede rather than invigorate a robust organizational health (Gerald, 1989).

Operational definitions of key concepts

The Concept of Training

Training's focus has broadened in the past few years (Bernadin, 2003). Training used to focus mostly on teaching technical skills, such as training assemblers to solder wires or teachers to device lesson plans. However, technical training like that is no longer sufficient (Oludairo, 2006). In recent time, organization has had to adapt to rapid technological changes, provide quality goods and services, and increase revenue to stay competitive. Improving quality required remedial education training. Similarly, employees today need skills in team building, decision making, and communication as well as technological and computer skills (Oludairo, 2006).

According to Fajana (2002), training is the process that involves developing skills and learning concepts, rules or attitudes in order to increase effectiveness on a particular job. Casco (2003) sees training consisting of planned programme designed to improve performance at the individual, group and/or organizational level. Ubeku (1975) in his own contribution, defines management training as the process of developing managers' knowledge, skills and attitude through instruction, demonstration, practice, and planned experience to meet the present and future needs of the business. This management training is the same as development or management development. Development refers to the process of teaching managers and professional employees that knowledge, skills needed for present and future task accomplishment.

Considering the above definitions, one can conclude that training and development involve the systematic and continuous developing skills, learning concepts, attitudes and knowledge needed by employees to perform effectively and efficiently at work.

Oceanic Bank International PLC

Oceanic Bank International Plc is regarded as one of banks that brought new revolution in the banking sector to Africa. Incorporated in on March 26, 1990, the bank commenced business on June 12, 1990. The bank has been growing from strength to strength since then. Its shares were listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on June 25, 2004, having achieved a public liability company status.

The bank is second to none in excellent deliveries and world class banking technologies in Africa. According to the bank's website, the bank has a strong presence in asset management, commercial banking, health management, insurance, investment banking, pensions, registrar services, savings & loans and trustee services, as well as over 370 business offices spread across Nigeria, Cameroun, the Gambia and São Tomé & Príncipe, Oceanic Bank is one of the most recognized financial services brands in West Africa.

The rational for choosing Oceanic Bank for this essay is hinged on the fact that the author is an insider who has been working with the bank for years and have undergone series of training within the bank. Currently on the bank's study leave, the author has unfettered access to the training methods and practices of the organisation and is able to specifically assess and examined the bank's training methods and practices as demanded by the question at hand.

Brief review of literature

Various scholars and researchers have contributed to training especially in the banking sector. Among them is Richards (1997) who posits that during a management trainee programme, the real objective is to focus on the individual manager and not the position in the company. Richard contributed to training needs analysis, vis-a-vis; about core competencies, job profiling and identification of competencies gaps-either against core competencies for individuals or against job profiles for generic roles.

Another important work that focuses on training in the banking industry is that of Niki Glaveli and Stella Kufidu (2005). The authors jointly analyzed the changes that took place in the Greek banking industry in three good years. The author also looks at the impact of the changes on the role of employees training and development for strategic implementation and success, using four case studies to investigate the effect of the environmental changes on these particular banks and the role of their training and development strategies in adjusting themselves to the changing industry environment (Glaveli & Kufidu 2005).

In a more related work to this study, Rainaye (2004) empirically examined the training policy in two commercial banks. The banks are the State Bank of India and Jammu & Kashmir Bank Limited. The aim was to study some kind of training styles including Management's attitude towards training, training inputs, quality of training programmes and transfer of training to the job. The study found out that the training scenario is to a large extent satisfactory. The study also evaluates the opinions of the employees of two cadres of both banks and in particular that it can be made fully effective only when the training needs assessment and transfer of training to the job are considerably improved, besides bringing in finer improvements in other dimensions (Rainaye 2004).

Badhu and Saxena (1999), in their work titled 'Role of Training in Developing Human Resources' proved that an organization should have well-defined training policy as well as training manual and training should be made an ongoing process. The duo also proved that the executive development programmes have been found to be useful in improving the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of managers.

In their research, Karthikeyan ,Karthi & Graf evaluated the effectiveness of training in six banks and how training contributes for growth of the banks. The study which carefully focussed on three public sector banks and three private sector banks has core objectives of analyzing the effectiveness of Training in selected banks in Tiruchirappalli District, South India and also to find the association between effectiveness of training and growth and result of banks.

Assessing Training Needs

Organisations spend over $200 billion annually on employee training and development (Wexley and Latham, 1991). They rely upon this training to help develop employee skills that are critical for success in today's fast-changing, competitive environment (Guthrie and Schwoerer, 1994). There training programs are a dubious investment, however, unless they are based upon a sound training needs assessment TNA (Goldstein, 1993). According to Burton and Thakur (2003), a good training program should identify: (i) the specific skill areas that are to be strengthened as a result of the training; and (ii) the resources that is available to support the training. They posit that an effective training process must begin with a thorough need analysis to clearly identify the learning to be achieved, and it must end with an objective training program evaluation.

A comprehensive training needs assessment provides information on organization needs- the organizational units in need of training; task needs- the knowledge and skills trainees must acquire for effective job performance; and person needs-the individuals in need of specific types of training (Wexley and Latham, 1991 Guthrie and Schwoerer, 1994). As shown in the figure below, the first step of training process is the assessing of training needs and providing answers to the following questions: (i)Who needs the training?(ii) Exactly what do they need to know or be able to do? (iii)What do they already know or are now able to do? (Burton and Thakur,2003). The other steps deal with identification of training objective which should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound, implementation of training program, evaluation, and adjustment if necessary.

Assess training needs

-Who need to be trained?

-What do they need to know?

-What do they already know?Set training objectives (specific, measurable etc.)

Plan training evaluation

-Did trainees like the training?

-Can they meet the training objectives?

-Do they perform better on the job?

Develop training program: content, location, methods, trainers, duration

Conduct Training

Evaluate Training

Modify training program based on evaluation

Figure: The Training Process (Source: Griffin, 1990)

Training methods and practices at Oceanic Bank International PLC

Oceanic bank places great importance on its training and that's why the bank is known as a workplace where staff can really learn and work at the same time. Training at oceanic bank int'l plc has been an important task or function to be completed by the human resources department. Whichever level an employee enters the organization; it is mandatory for such new employee to go through series of training both on- the- job and off- the- job.

The Oceanic Leadership Academy

The oceanic Leadership Academy is the training school for the bank. It is the first port of call for every new staff of the bank. The new staff members resume rigorous academic studies in the Academy for five weeks where their success is chiefly determined by written and oral examinations. The Academy goes a long way to determine whether a new staff will be retained in the bank or sent packing as staff who failed the short course will be asked to leave the employment of the bank. The Academy has very reach curriculum and work modules, most of which are packaged to deliver the peculiar nature and businesses of the bank.

The Oceanic Academy, being the learning arm of the bank is run by the Human Resource department. According to the Bank's websites, the department is responsible for all capacity building and training interventions aimed at developing the skills and capabilities of employees, thus improving their competencies on the job, their overall productivity and the competitiveness of Oceanic Bank Group.

Induction courses

After the graduating from the Academy, the induction processes of the bank follows. Induction training is conducted to newly employed staffs of oceanic bank within the branches of the bank. The programme is intended to improve the financial literacy of participants whilst strengthening their knowledge and competencies. This is carried out both on-the -job and off- the-job which enables the new entry level officers to understand the business and development of skills needed to carry out their job functions required by the organisations standard and practise. A one-week induction course for experienced new hires and a three-day induction course are available to certain grade levels. In addition, desk-to-desk induction is structured specifically for senior management staff.

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Off -the -job training in Oceanic Bank

This is a training programme outside the organization which is encouraged by the bank. The bank usually sponsors and support their staffs for specialised training in various fields especially in the area of the modern day technology, credit and mortgage. Staffs are been sent on training in different training programmes such as (core banking application) finacle training in Indian and other European countries. Such staffs have come back more enlighten and are able to pass done such knowledge to subordinate and co- workers.

On-the-job training in Oceanic bank

Oceanic bank make most use of on-the-job training by assigning a trainer to the newly employee to put such employee through by learning the practical aspect of the job on-the-job.

Job rotation is also an important training method employed by the bank where staff members are been moved from different department to gain more experience and familiarise themselves with all areas of banking, from marketing, credit, operations and application of core banking software. Oceanic bank staff members gain a lot through job rotation as given employees opportunity to work in different department of the bank is helpful. This initiative also helps staff members to move round different department which enable them bring in new ideas to other departments to enhance employee performance.

Job rotation of staff also reduces boredom on the job because of diverse task to be carried out by employees. This also enables the staff to understand all the core aspect of banking as well as working with different people and senior managers across the business.

Knowledge sharing section: This is a training programme designed by oceanic bank to be conducted by each branch on weekly basis. It is anchored by designated staff of the bank on a rotation basis. The aim is to bridge learning gaps on the operations of the bank. This is done specifically to update each staff of the bank on operations of the bank, the position of the bank, introduction of new products as well as knowledge outside the banking operations

Short courses in Oceanic bank

The bank periodically organizes Open Courses which cover diverse areas of development including Leadership, Communication, Health and Wellness, Credit Skills, Marketing Skills and Soft Skills. Mostly the bank sends mails to staffs to indicate there interest whenever the organisation organises open courses for staff

The bank encourages the staff to register and monitors their progress for professional courses. In line with this the Oceanic Academy partners with various organisations like the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN) in the area of Continuous Professional Development Programmes.

They also encourage personal development of each staffs by allowing staffs to go on study leave for further studies, and opportunity the writer of this essay is currently enjoying.

E- learning: This is the bank internet training facilities provided to the employees of the bank for training purpose. There are various materials on this site which employees can read and download to enable them broaden their knowledge on the core banking subjects as well as non-banking related areas of study.

Effectiveness of Oceanic Bank Training programmes

The oceanic bank training scheme is by far one of the best in the banking sector as attested to by staff of other banks. The programme is well structured in such a way that it makes it easy for every member of staff to undergo it without any stress. This is desirable as it makes the staff to love and appreciate their work. This in turn encourages efficiency and increased productivity. Because staff had gone through certain training processes, they are confident in doing their job and they build up work ego and pride in delivering stated task.

Shortcomings of the Oceanic Bank Training programmes

While it is good to have a formal training school for staff training like the Oceanic bank leadership academy, it is somewhat unfair to based performance of new staff on classroom examinations, worstill, that those who failed the examination are shown the way out of the employment. This is hinged on the commonly known assertion that examination is never the best way of testing human knowledge. A very good staff that has sound practical knowledge of the banking system might be unable to successfully pass written examination for one reason or the other. For this reason, the mode of determining whoever successfully passed through the academy is put to question.

Another shortcoming observed from the Oceanic Bank Training programmes is the management of the delivery of the on-the-job training. More often than not in the department where this author work, the pressure of work and overwhelming customer demands and queries do not allow room for teaching someone else on the job. The implication is that most new staff spend longer than usual in learning new skills while working.

Often, those doing the training may have no experience in training, no time to do it, and no desire to participate in it. Under such conditions, learners essentially are on their own, and training likely will not be effective. Another problem is that on-the-job training can disrupt the flow of regular work. Unfortunately, on-the-job training can amount to no training at all in some circumstances, especially if trainers simply abandon the trainees to learn the job alone. Also bad habits or incorrect information from supervisor or manager can be transferred to the trainees.

Conclusions and Recommendations for Improvement

Owing to the complex nature of jobs in the banking sector, the importance of employee training has increased. In a rapidly changing society, employee training is not only an activity that is desirable but also an activity that an organization must commit resources to, if it is to maintain a viable and knowledgeable workforce Karthikeyan ,Karthi & Graf (2010)

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Because of the enormous advantages of training to an organisation, the amount spent should be seen as an investment rather as a cost to the organisation. Training has been a very formidable part of every organisation. In fact it is a prerequisite for effective employees' performance and growth on their jobs. Logically speaking, the higher the quality of training an employee receives, the higher the quality of productivity and vice versa.

It must be stressed therefore, that training and development improve quality, customer satisfaction, morale, profitability, business expansion and development i.e. overall organizational productivity. Hence, it gives organizations competitive advantage.

This essay recommends an informal approach to accessing staff performance in the training school, vis-avis, the Oceanic Bank Leadership Academy. In this way, emphasis should be laid on assessing the delivery of practical tasks assigned to the new staff rather than just asking them to write written examinations. Also, new staff should not be laid off for failing the written examinations in the academy.

It is also recommended that on-the-job training should be more formalise such that pressure and workload would be reduced from the shoulder of the trainer. Such trainer, as a matter of fact, should be allowed concentrate more on the trainee rather than the customers during the period of the induction.

It is also advisory that Oceanic bank introduces a kind of personality development programmes such as role play, group discussion and business games. By this, the senior, management and other lower staff can build synergy and the superior and subordinate relationship can be strengthened for the overall productivity of the bank.

In General, the Human Resources department should enhance their training programmes in line with latest demands in the banking sector, especially in this age of online bank and sophisticated fraud. This is because every organization that want to survive in this very dynamic world of banking needs to have well-trained and experienced people to perform the activities that have to be done.

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