“Adapt to change for growth” – rural bank managers advised

Mrs. Comfort Owusu, Executive Director-Association of Rural Banks, Ghana

Executive Director of the Association of Rural Banks-Ghana, Mrs. Comfort Owusu, has advised rural banks’ General Managers and CEOs to quickly adapt to change – particularly in the business environment.

According to her, the external business environment and government regulatory policies have direct impacts on their activities as bankers, and therefore they must always stand ready to confront the challenges and adapt to prevailing conditions in order to survive.

She mentioned that the financial clean-up coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the economy in many ways, especially the banking sector.

Mrs. Owusu made particular reference to being locked-down, having to socially distance from one another, and wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and change will continue because it is a natural phenomenon that cannot be avoided.

These changes, she said, have had direct impacts on how business is conducted as bankers, and she has a strong conviction that there is need to talk about how to successfully run institutions in a fast-changing world.

Mrs. Owusu gave this advice at the 19th Apex and Rural Bank Managers’ conference held recently at Ho, on the theme ‘The Speed of Change’.

In surmounting the challenges that usually come with change, the executive director of ARB Ghana told managers to constantly acquire knowledge on current trends – particularly in the areas of technology and ways of conducting business in the banking sector, as well as staying abreast with the needs of people in their catchment areas during the prevailing circumstances.

This, according to her, will enable RCB managers to know what products and services are needed by their target market; how to make those products and services available; and how to efficiently deliver them in order to not only stay in business but also make profits and thrive.

“Most managers are typically drawn to the tangible, analytical and concrete elements that keep our banks moving forward; sadly, forgetting people-management,” she stressed.

Mrs. Owusu is of the view that workforces in institutions need to be moving in the same direction as changes we want to see happen in the banks, in order to keep them thriving.

Several studies have reported that the top reason for resistance from employees is that they are not aware of the organisation’s need for change. The first step toward addressing this obstacle when it arises, Mrs. Owusu believes, is helping employees understand the root-cause of the need for change through employee communications and training managers and supervisors to share developing core issues with workers regularly.

She drew managers’ attention to the fact that employee-resistance is a natural reaction to the fear and uncertainty related to an unknown future state.

The ARB Executive Director further advised that when resistance occurs, there is still hope for change if managers can pay attention to the stakeholders resisting the change; because there may be elements of the change that should be reconsidered, and to understand the interests of those who resist.

Mrs. Owusu added that managers should develop strategies for change which address those interests and find external validation and evidence for change, because people are more likely to be positively disposed toward change when they can see it reflected into their profession or society as a whole.

Managers must also dedicate themselves to the tough and unpleasant conversations; and instead of surrounding themselves with people they are comfortable with, there is a need to take time to talk with people who are inclined to resist the anticipated change.

“If we are able to do these things, our staff will become motivated to work as change-agents who work toward the organisational transformations we so badly need to have in order for us to keep up with our fast-changing world,” she added

Mrs. Comfort Owusu finally said it has become evident that market needs, escalating market competition and fluctuations have become the order of the day in our world of banking – and this requires that rural bank managers re-focus continuously, necessitating a solid means for swiftly implementing and accepting more frequent changes. 

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