Public sector bank officers avoid promotions, even as banks are on strike nationwide
Of late, there is a disturbing trend where vacancies for officers in public sector banks are plenty but there are no takers, says an editorial in Officers’ Voice, Journal of Corporation Bank Officers’ Organisation
Corporation Bank (and other public sector banks alike) faces a new set of human resources problems, which include serious questions such as why clerical staff, who satisfy eligibility do not opt for promotion; why officers are not coming forward to take up promotion to Scale II and Scale III; are they afraid to take up higher responsibilities? These questions are raised in the editorial of Officers’ Voice, August 2012, the journal of Corporation Bank Officers’ Organisation.
The editorial underlines the observation that the “Post of branch manager has become a bed of thorns”, as public sector banks’ officers are frequently dodging promotions and are satisfied with status quo in their individual careers. The editorial adds that the branch manager has to have the mental preparedness to bear the abuses from the superiors over the phone and in open meetings for his failure to achieve targets accepted by him voluntarily. This leads to low self-esteem.
The branch manager cannot expect full support from his staff either. According to the editorial, “Today, no branch manager can dream of a branch with full complement of staff, thanks to our ‘professional manpower planning’ over the years and ‘soft opening’ of branches.”
The journal sums up the problem with branch managers’ posts as one that needs an immediate solution: “Any delay in this regard will have a devastating effect on the future growth of this great institution—Corporation Bank.” Human resources are the assets, which are not reflected in the bank’s balance sheet but it determines its size and the efficiency.
The Officers’ Voice also has a section for members’ reactions and the current issue has sharp reactions on performance appraisal of officers in Corporation Bank and their promotions. According to a member, “Out of the many stipulations in the new policy of the finance ministry, the main contentious issue is minimum marks of 75% in APAR (Annual Performance Appraisal Report) each year.” Since the target was steep, the member adds that the Corporation Bank management had to take up with the finance ministry to reduce the minimum APAR marks to 60%, as sufficient eligible candidates were not available. Also, the member has made the observation, “Many reporting officers have a wrong notion that their higher-ups will question their assessing capability if they award more marks in APAR.” The member jokes that the assessment is not of the appraisee officer’s performance but is an assessment of the reporting officer’s attitude.
Apart from APAR, interview is also a part of the promotion process, and it has a major influence on the outcome of the final result. According to the member, “There are complaints from promotion aspirants that the interview process is also used to eliminate the candidate against whom there is a bias.”
The member’s reaction in the Officers’ Voice concludes that the finance ministry’s guidelines, instead of clarifying the issues in performance appraisals and promotions, have created large scale confusion and demoralisation of officers.
The comments in the Officers’ Voice also include those of TR Bhat in his column ‘Plainspeak,’ where he remarks that the finance ministry has now attempted to reduce autonomy for the public sector banks, and that it is neither good for the banks nor to the banks’ customers. The reduction in autonomy is also in the area of human resources management for the banks.
According to Mr Bhat, “Between October/ November last year and June this year, the finance ministry issued a series of guidelines regarding internal promotions, performance appraisal, rural service, business strategies and conduct of Board meetings.”
He observes that the implications of the ministry’s approach are far reaching. In Corporation Bank, the waitlisted Scale VI officers could not get promoted to Scale VII (general manager cadre), as the posts were reduced. They became ineligible to participate on account of the increase in APAR marks with retrospective effect. Mr Bhat adds that the average performance of an officer over the years being considered would be more appropriate for this purpose.
Also, Mr Bhat points out that the ministry’s guidelines regarding the time frame for completion of transfer process are impractical in Corporation Bank.
Thus, Mr Bhat is clear that the earlier trend towards autonomy in public sector banks was more favourable for human resource management in Corporation Bank.
Corporation Bank has evolved over the years and faced many challenges with respect to officers’ careers and growth within the bank. The current challenge is also a big one and needs to be crossed effectively.