Commercial Bank Recent changes have reformed the banking sector worldwide. The economic, political and social transformations have obliged several banks all over the world to emphasize on retail banking. Commercial Bank answers to those challenges by implementing a change program called PEGASUS. Pegasus has under its umbrella five main programs: 1) CRM implementation, 2) Business Process Reengineering, 3) Development of alternative distribution channels such as e-banking, 4) New roles, new work and managerial practices and finally 5) Corporate identity and Culture change.
In this context many important change models are included in this analysis, in order to rationalize the change efforts of Commercial Bank. Till now, the implementation of PEGASUS is more than satisfactory in terms of change processes. But the same does not stand for the culture. Therefore, the future change initiatives of Commercial Bank should focus more on “soft” issues and less on processes. The adaptation of a Performance Management and Career Planning Program is crucial for the final success of PEGASUS.
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In the same sense, the implementation of the intranet should be completed and the rewards system should be aligned with the change objectives. The dilemma faced by many businesses today is managing strategic change initiatives efficiently and effectively. Arguably, managing changes simultaneously poses great challenges to organisational success in terms of the desired change. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the driving and resisting forces that occurred during a transitional programme in a Malaysian bank. Issues in the implementation process include change initiatives and the challenges that were faced.
Qualitative data indicated that while the implementation process and efforts were genuine, they were fraught with various technical and HR problems, and it was found that change efforts lacked integration and attention to human issues. Change efforts mainly focused on business and cost driven initiatives. This observation suggests that organisational leaders should give careful attention to how each activity can be designed and well integrated when planning and implementing organisational change. The paper discusses the implications ofthese finding on HR policies and practices in financial institutions. Change is inevitable and ubiquitous in a rapidly expanding world. These landscapes of many external forces make it most difficult for organisational survival and prosperity. Indeed, the major dilemma faced by businesses today is managing strategic change initiatives efficiently and effectively (Graetz, Rimmer, Lawrence & Smith 2002). And according to Ulrich (1997), a primary difference between organisations that succeed and those that fail is the ability to respond to the pace of change.
In other words, organisations need to monitor and scan their external environments, anticipate, and adapt timely to continual change (Marquardt 1996). A salient contention by Pettigrew, Woodman and Cameron (2001), is the relative lateness of anticipation and adaptation ability of firms, and their inability to recognise the change in bases of competition that may have changed in their business environment can be a key attribute explaining a loss of competitive performance. In addition to the inability to recognise change, it is no longer sufficient to adjust one change to compensate another.
Arguably, organisations will have to handle all the challenges of change simultaneously (Brown & Harvey 2006). These challenges of changes, at the organisational level, have elevated the importance of managing change and in particular, the managing of employees’ change experiences. This is because massive change has an impact on all facets of organisational members as it can create new dimensions of greater uncertainty (Brown & Harvey 2006). Hence, it is very important to ensure good coordination, strong leadership, and clear communication while managing various changes simultaneously.
There are three major trends that shape change. Specifically, the three trends are (a) the heightened competition brought about by globalisation, (b) information technology, and (c) managerial innovation. Globalisation is changing the economy and markets in which organisations operate. And there has been an increase in the e-business sector that is changing how work is distributed and performed with the use of information and communication technology (ICT). Moreover, managerial innovation becomes more important as a form of response to both competition and information technology trends (Brown & Harvey 2006).
A significant example of how the reshaping of managerial values, work practices and business notions onset with less domestic restrictions and trade barriers to embrace international competition is afforded by the accession of Malaysia as a member of the World Trade Organisation in the 1990s. The exposure to the competitive edge of foreign organisations compelled Malaysian domestic organisations to evolve a new corporate strategy in response to changes in the cross national managerial work related values (Baron & Besanko 2001).
Many articles and books have been written about how change management can be approached. Nevertheless, the field of organisational change is far from mature in understanding the dynamics and effects of time, process, discontinuity, and context (Pettigrew, et al. 2001). Moreover, little is written about implementation process and issues in highly regulated contexts such as the banking context (Nightingale & Poll 2000, Baron & Besanko 2001). Technical change in service industries is an underrepresented area, despite its importance in employment and innovation (Nightingale & Poll 2000).
Further, empirical studies seeking to link change to organisational performance are rare (Pettigrew, et al. 2001). Partly, the rarity is due to the difficulty in producing convincing evidence. This study contributes to change management by reinforcing existing literature that stress the significant human factor in change management. This study set out to study and analyse the change management and implementation process of a bank in Malaysia (hereinafter referred as Bank A) using the qualitative method.
The paper focuses on driving forces that prompted Bank A to change its corporate strategy, which in the late 1990s underwent major changes in its business approach. The Bank A corporate strategy shifted to a customer focused strategy with the transition to a more efficient technological system and business arrangements that underpinned a regime of competitive products and services. A primary aim of this study was to contribute to an understanding of organisational change and the effect of human factors on a change management programme in the context of the banking industry.
Firstly, the existing literature on organisational change is reviewed. Next, using a combination of frameworks for analysing change processes, this paper discusses the driving forces that created the pressures on Bank A to embrace a programme of change. The implementation and change efforts will be highlighted, and this is followed by an investigation into the challenges and resisting forces to change that were faced by Bank A in the implementation process. The findings are discussed with implications for
Human Resource (HR) policies and practices in financial institutions. Act II: Creating a new vision (diagnosing the problem, creating a motivating vision, mobilising commitment), and Act III: Institutionalising change. Another change model is the evolutionary model of variation-selection-retention (Hannan & Freeman 1989, Aldrich 1999). Change is approached using an evolutionary biology model. Organisations are perceived to have frequent variations that are usually local and short lived unless selected for investigation.
Hence, efforts to solve problems generate innovations with selective or limited spread because the selection regime signals out the various variations as shaped by systemic forces such as the general component of the external environment (i. e. economic, social, technological). Occasionally, a local innovation is retained after successful selection and testing elsewhere in the organisation. The evolutionary approach highlights the need for organisations to develop a capability for increasing the level of local initiative in problem solving and experimentation (increasing variations).
It is also to develop systems for identifying and disseminating the most successful initiatives (modifying the selection regime away from selecting) for stability toward selecting for innovation (Ancona, et al. 2005). Increasing levels of global competition as well as fervent changes in business environments have heightened organisational revitalisation. One institutional practice that has been adopted to improve competitive advantage is organisational learning.
Peter Senge (1992) introduces the concept of the learning organisation that translates the abstract models of evolutionary perspective into more specific organisational terms. In contrast to Lewin’s (1947) planned change model, the learning organisation approach is a change process aimed at assisting the development and use of knowledge to build capacity for continuous change and learning. This strategy is a form of collective learning that is necessary for sustainable change.
The learning organisation approach advocates ‘starting small’ with a small pilot team whose members share a recognition that a particular problem cannot be fixed easily because it is symptomatic of deeper issues. Senge and his colleagues (1999) organise formal change in three stages: initiating the change effort, sustaining it, and redesigning and rethinking the larger system so that the learning from the pilot project is diffused to the rest of the organisation. These social scientists assert that there should be continuous renewal efforts in a change strategy Change strategies have always proved to be a challenge for management.
To ascertain success of any change strategies, the management team must be open and alert to all forms of resistance as well as development, supported by an indepth understanding of the culture and operational processes of an organisation. Given that strategic change does not move in a logical sequence of event (Pettigrew & Whipp 1991), management will frequently face ambiguity, as they explore the amalgam of economic, personal and political imperatives. Table 1 shows the major similarities across different researchers in the stages of organisational change efforts.
Most of the researchers advocate that there are mainly three identifiable stages on change models. Lewin’s (1947) model shares close similarities with that of Tichy and Devanna (1986) in which the first stage represents a stage in which people or the organisation encounter forces that inform the need for change. The second stage is a transition period, while the third and last stage is the refreezing stage. However, the Tichy and Devanna (1986) change model primarily focuses on the role of individual leader and transformational leadership.
Aldrich’s (1999) model is consistent with Lewin’s (1947) in the second and third stage of change model. Unlike Lewin’s (1947) model of change, the Senge and colleagues (1999) three stage model starts with the second stage of Lewin’s (1947) model and focuses primarily on the development and use of knowledge for continuous change and learning. Table 1 Stage models of organisational change Author Focus areas of change Change models Lewin (1947) Process Unfreezing Change Refreezing Tichy and Devanna (1986) Role of individual leader Act I Act II Act III Transformational leadership
Awakening Mobilising Reinforcing Aldrich (1999) Role of systemic forces Variation Selection Retention Senge, et al. (1999) Process Initiating Sustaining Redesigning and rethinking Role of pilot teams According to Wiebe and Gordon-Biddle (2002) almost all of the varying approaches to organisational change have been developed along Lewin’s basic, temporal logic of change process. The model of change by Lewin (1947) has been widely employed by a large number of researchers (Judson 1991, Kotter 1995, Galpin 1996, Armenakis, et al. 1999) to build and describe new models of change.
Given the focus of the current study is a change management process that attempts to investigate the driving forces, implementation process and resistance to change, Lewin’s (1947) model of change is deemed most appropriate. This model of change focuses on implementing change as a process, and it discusses a relative more complete process of change as compared to the other models reviewed in this study. Moreover, Lewin (1947) has developed force field analysis to complement his three step model of change, which has also been widely adopted by researchers. Given thesimilarities, different focus and shortcomings of various models of change, it was decided that Lewin’s three stage model is a highly appropriate conceptual framework for research analysis in qualitative studies on change management. Methodology Site and Participants Bank A is the site of the current study under a three year change exercise administered by an external consulting firm. Bank A, a locally owned bank in Malaysia has extensive market coverage and a strong local presence. The bank was driven by heightened competition as a consequence of globalisation, information technology and managerial innovation trends to pursue change.
It has been operating in the Malaysian financial sector since the 1970s, and has a network of approximately 82 branches nationwide, with total assets of approximately RM26. 23 million in 2007. The bank serves both retail and corporate customers and provides credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and deposit services (current, savings and fixed deposits) in retail banking whilst offering corporations, institutional clients and small, medium sized enterprises services in corporate banking. The study of Bank A was based on the change management programme that was undertaken at headquarter and local banking outlets.
Approximately 20 per cent of employees that were involved and affected in the change management were randomly selected as respondents in the three year period. These 200 respondents represented employees at the branch level, training sessions and the newly created centralised unit. The majority of the pool of respondents represented middle management employees (80 per cent). Specifically, they were from user acceptance test team, product users, project leaders, as well as trainers from branches and centralised unit. Some of them actively participated in technical and weekly review meetings.
A total of 60 per cent of the respondents have worked in the bank between five and 15 years at the point of the study. A total of 30 per cent of the respondents have more than 15 years of tenure while the remaining 10 per cent of the respondents have less than five years of tenure. Procedure The primary sources of data comprised semi structured interviews, a feedback survey and observations. The source of data came from the interviews held with randomly selected lower and middle level employees of Bank A in technical and weekly review meetings. The data gathered through a feedback survey was also partly utilised for this study.
Five external consultants who were directly engaged in the change management programme administered the interviews and feedback survey. Weekly observation by five external consultants was also considered in understanding and analysing the change programme in Bank A. The consultants were also engaged in the centralised unit and skill training at the operational level when requested to introduce ICT. Measures Semi structured interviews that were mainly designed for the assessment of Bank A’s change programme, were employed to capture perceived operational changes of employees.
The interviews start with general questions that then lead to more specific research issues (Zikmund 2000). The questionnaire is presented as Appendix 1. The interviews were designed to inquire about the motivation of Bank A underlying the change management programme, namely, the internal and external driving forces. Such inquiry at the initial and intermediary stages of change programme specifically, stages of testing and implementation of system, assisted the study to assess the understanding level among lower and middle managers of the need for the change in Bank A.
Respondents were also asked to elaborate on the change management programme and implementation process in these stages. The bulk of the interviews then focused on the participants’ perceptions of the challenges faced and resisting forces of change in the implementation process. Drawing respondents’ interpretations of positive and negative outcomes that had resulted from the implementation was useful. Respondents’ interpretations were then analysed together with observations from the external consultants. Analysis
The data collected by interviews is rich and sufficient for force field analysis of the current study, particularly in discussing external and internal driving forces of the change programme. Force field analysis is a method for analysing qualitative data in the study of organisational change. This method organises information pertaining to change management into forces for change and forces for resisting change (Cummings & Worley 2005). It is derived from Lewin’s (1947) three step model of change. The results from the interviews were manually recorded.
The verbatim expressions of the interviewed participants were analysed using content analytic procedures. This method attempts to summarise comments, issues or attitudes of respondents into meaningful categories or emerging themes (Cummings & Worley 2005). Information from the interviews was condensed and elucidated with relevant descriptive knowledge of the authors. In many cases the interviews helped illuminate, and clarify some of the recorded data and observations. Study data are presented in Table 2 to Table 5, inclusive in the results section to show the expected and actual outcomes.
The context of the Tables is structured according to specific and interrelated issues highlighted by the respondents in relation to the change implementation programme. For confidentiality reasons it is not possible to offer direct quotations from respondents in this paper. The primary data were also supplemented by a range of documentation including financial reports, memos, minutes of meetings, internal reports, newsletters, and information circulation to employees involved in the change management programme. Results Change Programme and Initiatives
In response to the social change and economic and trade development, Bank A began to undertake proactive measures to strengthen its corporate credibility. One of the early change attempts was process reorganisation of its internal operations via ICT (Bank Negara Malaysia 2004) within one year. Bank A’s consumer banking activities evolved from a highly decentralised set of operations within individual branches to a more tightly focused operation supported by process reorganisation that involved centralisation of common processing activities. Bank A identified core and non core business processes for streamlining.
A part of the change initiatives was the elimination of non core processes or outsourcing of back office activities to create a leaner operation at the branch level. An integrated banking solution (henceforth referred to as Financial Information System or FIS) was deployed to replace the old system, which was an elaborate software system that offered enhanced features and functionality that enabled users to respond more effectively to market demands. The system enabled users to design more flexible customer oriented products and services. FIS enabled automation of operational work process of Bank A at the branch level.
Moreover, selected loan processing and operational activities could be centralised. The shift away form administrative work and processes via automation and centralisation enabled branch employees to exert concerted efforts on personalised services, which appeared to be more rewarding market segments. The expansion of personalised services was further facilitated by the integrated customer profile system under FIS. Such technological change would hopefully enable Bank A to compete more effectively in terms of customer service, cross selling and development of innovative products and services.
Some examples of customer service included combined account statements, sweep facilities and automated service charging. These potential benefits of FIS were communicated to organisational members via bulletin. A total change of the system use in any organisation would also demand changes in processes, procedures and policies (Hall 2002). The adoption of FIS, which integrates information within Bank A and across functional boundaries, had significant implications for the redesign of organisational work processes, and hence, required a change in many activities.
Bank A redesigned work to account for the task interdependencies required to fit FIS. Beckhard and Harris (1977) stressed the importance of temporary structural means in facilitating a transition exercise to the desired future state to ensure effective change initiatives. Bank A set up a team to outline all the changes required in hardware and software, and introduced an integrated user acceptance test plan to examine the capabilities of the various functions of FIS to meet both current requirements and future needs of the bank.
With the centralisation and automation of selected core activities, Bank A restructured its HR by introducing training and work relocation or transfer for affected employees to undertake new duties in the centralised unit. Besides facilitating transition to new work, these change initiatives were also intended to reduce employees’ perceived insecurity of their employment. Employees in the centralised unit were expected to acquire data entry skills to ‘feed’ FIS with customer profiles in the system conversion exercise. Bank A provided training for the conversion of manual databases of depositors and borrowers into an electronic database.
Other training sessions were to equip ‘front liners’ and technical support employees with the ability to troubleshoot minor impending problems that may arise. In addition, bank wide exercises were initiated where all branches and divisions (i. e. branches, centralised support groups, computer operations unit and management) participated in running simulation tests to identify any technical problem of new policies and procedures under the FIS operating environment. Such employee participation also helped to develop familiarity of systems before FIS was fully implemented across all branch operations.
The various training sessions were part of Bank A’s plan to remove resisting forces. Organisations may convey credible positive expectations in generating motivation for the change (Eden 1986, Cooperrider 1990). When members expect success they are likely to develop greater commitment to the change process. Moreover, any proposed change would be more readily accepted if it promises to give benefits. The HR department of Bank A introduced employee participation to unfreeze and reduce resisting forces, with the belief the strategy would encourage employees to embrace change, and reduce their frustration and resistance to change.
The HR department involved employees in the redesign of job and tasks, and conducted interviews with employees to identify their areas of interest in work to enable a suitable match of employee skills and interests with future work possibilities. Force Field Analysis: External Driving Forces for Change Driving forces are anything that increases the inclination of an organisation and its people to implement a proposed change programme. They vary in intensity, ultimately creating the need for a change programme or energise its initiation (Bishop 2001, Covington 2002).
Like most of the organisations in the Asia Pacific region, Bank A was hard hit by the economic crisis in 1997 as many domestic businesses and organisations faced difficulties in repayment of loans in view of increasing interest rates and the unstable Ringgit – the currency denomination for Malaysia. Thus, the economic crisis had an adverse effect on Bank A’s issue of survival. A majority of the middle managers identified globalisation as one of the driving forces for change in Bank A.
The government intention to consolidate 58 financial institutions into 10 anchor banks had to be instituted (Kawai 2000). The liberalisation of the long protected financial market in Malaysia under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (Bank Negara Malaysia 2001) became the second driving force in the general environment. A review of corporate bulletins revealed that Bank A believed that this massive change brought about by globalisation was unavoidable. A further force driving the management of change of Bank A was the changing customer or market needs and lifestyles.
Almost all managers shared the same view that increasing customer complaints and customer demands for new products and services signalled a need for strategic action. The result of a 2003 national survey (Bank Negara Malaysia 2004) reinforced the urgent need for banks to improve customer relationships and particularly to address numerous changing needs of customers, and according to the survey results there was a reduced demand for conventional banking products and services. The survey findings showed customers expected efficient, innovative and value added financial products and services (e. g. , personalised advisory services) while young middle to high income individuals were a growing customer segment that preferred the convenience of ATMs and electronic banking. (Bank Negara Malaysia 2004). The survey results revealed that there was a growing urgency for financial institutions to skilfully manage knowledge centres and customer databases to ensure service excellence. The introduction of sophisticated online banking products and services by foreign banks that often were equipped with advanced technology brought new meaning to Malaysian banking activities.
The availability of one stop financial portals and the ease and convenience of electronic banking had enabled consumers to be connected online to manage their own transactions. Stiff competition from foreign banks was another driving force for change. The rapid advancement of technology of rivals also strongly highlighted the inefficiency and poor integration of the historical Malaysian banking system that relied heavily on labour intensive work processes. For instance, direct marketing, credit history, risk management, and segmentation based product pricing could now all be managed online for the first time.
Force Field Analysis: Internal Driving Forces for Change Besides the external driving forces internal driving forces were also creating increasing tension on Bank A. Recognised among the internal driving forces were flawed information systems, hierarchical and rigid work practices, less attractive products and services, and a call from within the organisation for a new organisational customer focused culture. According to the external consultants engaged in the change management, the old information systems of Bank A did not have sufficient storage to accommodate the current and the future needs of Bank A. The systems were technologically inferior to those deployed by foreign banking rivals. These limitations resulted in various non value added activities that consequently, created mass manual records to maintain, and resulted in ineffective and inefficient processing and turnaround times given the proneness of these outdated information systems to human error and fraud vulnerabilities.
All these negative impacts had caused Bank A to lose valuable customers. One of the internal restrictive driving forces in Bank A was its hierarchical and rigid work practices that included reporting structures and work processes. Bank A introduced reporting structures and organised work cogent with old information systems, but ideally, structural design should be designed to fit current technology, the external environment, organisation size and endorse a strategy to achieve organisational effectiveness (Waddell, et al. 2004).
However, the adjustment to the inferior technology generated inherent problems such as duplication of work and largely manual oriented processes. The recognition by Bank A of the importance of innovative products (Bank Negara Malaysia 2004) was another internal driving force for organisational development. The old information system limited product offering to conventional banking products and services and created unnecessary work processes that impeded the introduction of innovative products and services that were important for fostering a customer focused culture.
Challenges and Resisting Forces to Change The analysis of the change management process of the Bank A revealed that the challenging issues that represent resisting forces to change were often the soft issues such as social, cultural and human issues across different managerial levels and functional boundaries. These significant issues emerged in the implementation stage, in the centralised unit, within branch operations, during the new product launch, across technical training, and were embedded in the HR relocation, interview and organisational performance activities.
The change efforts in Bank A revamped the conventional banking system and operations by introducing FIS. A study of the weekly reports and memos in the third year of the project implementation revealed several inadequacies of the FIS. For instance, the implementation of FIS was delayed despite having undergone three years of rapid testing to perform at a level that was acceptable to Bank A and this led to budgetary issues, so it was not possible to fully customise FIS to the current and future needs of Bank A.
Testing of both existing and new services presented great challenges. For example, the stability of the system was erratic. The study of the change programme revealed that FIS failed to meet the ideal level of milestones (e. g. project completion in one year, excellent customer service, innovative products and services) that Bank A had set and many of the benefits from change lagged behind its implementation schedule by three to six months. Work processes in Bank A were reorganised as a direct outcome of information management provided by ICT.
However, Bank A set a tight timeline for such a massive exercise. Some interdependent activities encountered delay and did not meet the set phases and deadlines whilst other activities experienced technical failure. A large number of the middle managers perceived that the testing phase was optimistically short as the bank was business and cost driven. Table 2 illustrates key expectations and disbenefits of the introduced FIS. Table 2 Expected performance and problems encountered in the implementation stage of FIS Expected performance of FIS
Problems encountered Automation capabilities with less human error FIS was not customised successfully Customer focus, enhance profit Stability of system was erratic Efficient and effective Exceeded budget Enhanced features, functionality and capacity Centralisation to avoid duplication Did not meet the set phases and deadlines Branches can focus on customer service and cross selling Role of centralised unit were unclear Less operating layers, efficient and effective Additional paperwork Employees felt insecure
FIS was installed to create efficiency and effectiveness by reducing work processes and enabling the banking transactions to be processed with much lesser human intervention or interaction. Thus, the implementation of FIS implied that a large number of employees, particularly those who attended to paper filing and unnecessary work processes became redundant. In the effort to redesign work to fit the FIS, Bank A redistributed manpower by transferring redundant employees to a centralised unit, and these personnel had to embrace their new job designs that were very different from their skills.
Some respondents at the centralised unit commented that they experienced stress when newly hired staff who were inexperienced made data entry errors. A large number of them felt insecure about their future and difficult to adapt when the role of the centralised unit was seemingly ambiguous. Apparently, the role of the centralised unit was not clearly outlined or communicated. Indeed, efforts to communicate the role of centralised unit in the change programme were not visible from the newsletter, bulletin, and memos.
Review meetings revealed that the problems and delays at the centralised unit eventually led to more processing delays at the branch operations. Respondents from both lower and middle management experienced higher levels of anxiety because of the unintended inefficiencies that caused further administrative work and more manual ‘follow up’. Some commented that it was tiresome to manage the unexpected inefficiency. Observation by consultants informed that this confusing work environment had apparently affected employees’ work commitment and support to the change programme.
FIS was introduced to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Bank A’s banking operation and avoid duplication of work at branch level. This it was hoped would result in excellent customer service. However, operating branches received customer complaints ranging from inaccurate bank statements to long rectification period of such mistakes. According to some branch managers, these problems were frequently testing the capabilities and patience of operational staff in managing customer frustrations over many technical problems.
Operational staff voiced that they were overloaded with various tasks. In addition, operational staff frequently had to troubleshoot technical problems that surfaced and had to be managed through temporary solutions. Many of the staff have expressed that they experienced stress and burnout. A summary of the expected performance and problems encountered in branch operations is given. Expected performance of FIS Problems encountered Centralisation to avoid duplication of work Processing delay due to troubleshooting Excellent customer service
Additional paperwork Less operating layers Manual follow up Efficient and effective Increase anxieties, stress and burnout Internal transfer or relocation to support FIS at centralised unit Increase in customer complaint (e. g. long waiting period to resolve problem, inaccurate statements and balances) Operational staff were not trained on managing glitches Bank A planned to introduce innovative products and services with the added functionality and capability of FIS. Many new and innovative products and services were developed.
However, a large number of the new products and services were never launched in the market, which revolved around the failure of technical testing and functionality during the testing phase. The unsuccessful introduction of FIS at the branch level reinforced the interpretation among the Product Marketing and Development team that the FIS were not a good software solution. An account of these main issues is shown as Table 3. Table 3 Expected performance and problems encountered in new product launch Expected performance of FIS Problems encountered Flexible with many new features
Could not launch new products due to some failure at testing stage Ability to maintain a customer database to support cross selling and profiling Existing resources redirected to troubleshooting problems arose with existing problems Bank A recognised that in implementing FIS the existing workforce needed reskilling. Therefore, training programmes were incorporated as a large part of the change efforts, but from the data gathered in the review meetings and interviews, trainees perceived the technical training sessions (that were organised by the HR department) were relatively simple and insufficient.
The trainees interpreted the inability of the testing team to anticipate potential technical problems throughout the testing phase as a lack of experience of the trainers and the inability of trainers during the technical training to suggest solutions on how to manage the peculiarity of technical problems further reinforced the negative perceptions of the respondents.
Many of the trainees voiced that their confidence towards the functionality of FIS and the feasibility of the change programme were negatively affected while some of the trainees who were operational staff attributed their poor ‘trouble shooting skill’ at the operational level to the inability of trainers to envision and provide suggestion to some queries on the peculiarity and severity of rising technical problems. Such unresolved or unidentified technical problems eventually affected the quality of the system and the technical training.
Moreover, the technical problems still could not be resolved even when the system was operationalised bank wide at the branch level, which left branch operations in a state of confusion with increased anxieties. Consequently, operational staff frequently had to develop temporary solutions even though a minority of them was aware that some of these temporary solutions had negative impacts on the efficiency and effectiveness of the operational activities. Customer service suffered when the different temporary solutions across branches created inconsistencies.
For instance, different service requirements at individual branches rendered inconsistent service experience to customers. In Table 4 an account of these salient dimensions is shown to reveal the dysfunctional effects outweighed the intended benefits of the technological training. Table 4 Expected performance and problems encountered in technical training Expected performance Problems encountered Reskilling using ‘train the trainer’ approach Targeted at wrong groups for reskilling Coaching at bank wide level Testing team lacked sufficient experience to anticipate potential technical problems Cost effective
Unresolved queries and technical problems Operational staff were not trained on managing technical problems Operational staff lacked confidence in FIS Confusion and anxiety Inconsistency of temporary solutions Inconsistency in service experience Organisational change often implies a different allocation of already scarce resources (Brown & Harvey 2006). One of the training programmes in Bank A adopted a ‘train the trainer’ method to efficiently manage the massive training required in a cost effective manner.
In the ‘train the trainer’ approach, selected key managerial employees were to be trained to eventually assume the role of coaches to drive change at the operational level. However, when the FIS was run at branch level nation wide, it was realised that the HR could not manage the system at the branch level. The most serious challenge in change programmes today is that the constantly changing environment must deal with people’s resistance to change. Most advocates of change assume that support will be imminent because the objectives for change are worthwhile, but sometimes this does not happen (Brown & Harvey 2006).
As one of the group of stakeholders of the bank, a large number of the employees began to display their dissatisfaction and resistance towards the change programme. Various frustrations arose from the lack of clear guidelines, disappointment with the new job designs as well as the operational and system engineering problems. Data gathered from interviews revealed that the HR department was hardly involved and it seemed that respondents had little impression of the HR department’s participation in the change programme. A large number of the respondents expressed similar views that there was a lack of support in managing employee emotions and