Before I delve into this article, I would like to share this experience with you. An employee of one rural bank in the Ashanti Region was transferred from his branch to another branch and, unfortunately, he resigned. Why did he resign from the job? The branch manager he had been working with had a good relationship with the entire staff.
However, the young man envisaged that the situation in the new branch would be different. He was going to work with a bossy manager. This experience underscores the importance of better management-employee relationships in rural banking.
Good relationships among employees is vitally important in order to fulfil the mission and vision of an organization. Management of every organization is required to foster relationships with employees so as to motivate them to give their unflinching support toward achievement of the overall objectives.
For management of rural banks to achieve their objectives and vision, the need for good relationships with staff is critical. Rural banks have top management, and the personnel of top management constitutes the management team. The management team is headed by the General Manager or CEO. The management team is in charge of the day to day operations of a rural bank. Rural banks also have staff who constitute the middle-level management. As already mentioned, for a rural bank to fulfil its mission and also realize its vision, there is need for good relationships between management and other employees such as Tellers, Credit Officers, Clerks, Customer Service Personnel, Mobile Bankers, Microfinance Officers among others.
It is worth mentioning that every employee in an organization such as rural bank is important and therefore cannot be marginalized. A rural bank can be likened to the human body with different and various organs. Each organ is important for proper function of the human body.
Some parts of the human body might seem to play a more important role than others, but they need the support and coordination of others to survive. In this view, this article will discuss how management of RCBs can strengthen their relationships with other employees. In the context of this article, management will apply to top-management and middle-level management such as branch managers.
Techniques of management-employee relations
There are a number of techniques which could be adopted to ensure better management employee-relationships in rural banking. Some of these techniques are discussed below.
- Effective and open communication
Communication has been described as the lifeblood of every relationship, be it the marriage cycle or organization set up. There is a saying that plans fail when there is no consultation but there is accomplishment through many advisors. In view of this, management of RCBs should communicate issues that affect employees to them.
Employees should not be kept in darkness of what matters to them. Employees should also get the opportunity to communicate their concerns to management. In effect, there should be upward and downward communication. Management should endeavour to inform employees what is expected from them and also give them feedback about their performance and other issues.
- Management should be accessible
For better management-employee relations, management should be accessible to employees. When a manager is accessible it will afford subordinates the opportunity to approach him/her with problems affecting their work so as to be addressed. Hence, management should remove invisible walls that keep subordinates away. Among these invisible walls are being arrogant, always portraying to be too busy; moody, unfriendly attitudes among others.
General Managers of RCBs should be accessible to their colleagues, management team members and branch managers. They should listen to suggestions that can help to move the bank forward. The General Manager should not think he is superior to others by virtue of his position. As management wants to be accessible, there should be a limit so that subordinates will not abuse that privilege of accessibility.
- Respect for each other
Respect for each other is an essential ingredient for every strong relationship. Hence, employees of RCBs should have deep respect for superiors such as the G.M., Branch Managers among others. It is possible for a subordinate to have more impressive academic credentials than a superior, but this should not warrant disrespect.
In similar vein, management members should respect employees under them. There is a saying that respect is earned and not commanded. When there is mutual respect in any organization, it serves as a motivation for individuals to offer their best. If you are a General Manager or branch manager reading this article, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I respect my subordinates and colleagues managers?
Am I egotistic because of my position of authority?
Do I impose my opinions on others, etc.?
- Provide support
Management should provide physical and emotional support for their staff. The physical support entails the resources needed to achieve their targets. They should also offer emotional and moral support to subordinates. Occasionally, an employee might be struggling to achieve his/her target and should not be viewed as a failure. There is need to encourage such a person to bring him/her up to the level of others who are doing well. If you are branch manager of a rural bank, do you encourage staff who are not living up to expectations or do you criticize them to the extent that they become demoralized?
Another aspect of support that can strengthen relationships is commendation. There is a need for management to commend staff for their hard work. For example, during peak-periods tellers tend to be stressed-out and there is a need for branch managers to commend them for their hard work. The role of Mobile Bankers is very stressful because they have to deal with difficult clients, walking under the scorching sun among others. Hence, managers or superiors have to commend them for the effort they make rather than condemning them.
Staff should also find ways to encourage their superiors when they are downhearted because of stressful situations they find themselves in. It is worth mentioning that everybody needs encouragement to move on in life. Staff should also commend their managers for their good performance. I have realized that in Ghana most people find it difficult to give verbal commendations. However, commendation is a form of intrinsic motivation.
- Offer recognition
In organizational set up, employees want to be recognized for their good performance. Hence, management should recognize outstanding employees through promotion, awards etc.
In many rural banks, the General Manager or Human Resource manager has to recommend staff promotion. This should be done without favouritism. There are instances when some staff of RCBs who were not qualified have been given certain positions they do not deserve at the expense of staff who were superbly qualified. This can have adverse effects on the good relationships which should be prevailing in the organization.
- Treating staff as internal customers
Managers of RCBs should treat their staff as internal customers. This implies that they should treat employees like how they treat their best customers. This will go a long way to foster good relationships.
According to Mr. Evans Aidoo, the immediate past-General Manager of Fiaseman Rural Bank: “In the service sector, especially banking, employees matter most”. Therefore, General Managers/CEOs and other managers should not lose sight of the importance of building better relationships with staff.
When there are good management employee-relationships, not only will staff work harder but also willingly, enthusiastically and efficiently. This will lead to low staff turnover. Better management-employee relationships will also motivate staff of RCBs to improve service quality to customers. This is true because employees who are motivated will find it easy to motivate customers through excellent customer service delivery.
The Author is the head of Proven Trusted Solutions, an employee-training and development, and marketing research firm.
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