When the Bank introduced its new branch management structure, which will see the introduction of managers supporting groups of branches, one could be forgiven for thinking that would be the end of the reorganisation. But it’s just the beginning.
We have been saying for a long time that the management structures that sit behind the Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland branch networks will be integrated at some stage in the future. Prior to the current restructuring some Local Directors had 11 Senior Bank Manager and Bank Manager direct reports and now following the latest reorganisation that’s being reduced to 5. That can’t continue indefinitely. In fact, in a number of the management structures we have seen, Senior Bank Managers will have more direct reports than their Local Director. Following a period of bedding down, probably for the rest of this year, we expect the Bank will move quickly to reduce the number of Local Directors and increase the spans of control of those that are left to cover all the branch networks. It would not surprise us if the Bank renamed the role and called it Area Director for example. There is absolutely nothing new in banking these days and we have been here before. The number of regions will also be reduced to reflect the new reality of bigger areas. And it’s at that new ‘Area Director’ level, or whatever new name the Bank’s dream up, that Senior Managers across the different branch networks will be managed. So the ‘Area Director’ covering Bedford and Milton Keynes, for example, will have direct reports that manage Lloyds and Halifax branches. It makes sense, doesn’t have an impact on the different brand vales and will save the Bank a lot of money. Looking further forward we can see a time when the different brands will operate from the same premises. So in a large Lloyds branch, it might be that you’ll find located a much smaller Halifax micro or pop-up branch and vice versa. The staff implications of that new set up would be clear to everyone. We are not there yet but it will come.
The role selection outcomes of the latest reorganisation will be announced on 5th June. Members who are not placed in a role or are given a role they didn’t ask for in their one-to-one meetings should contact the Union’s Bedford Office immediately on 01234 262868.
Managing The Future
Once again the Bank is looking at its performance management system and is undertaking a number of pilots. The Bank has also produced a survey for staff to complete. It’s clear from the wording of the questions in that survey, what kind of performance management system the Bank wants in the future.
We can understand the need to change the current system. It’s time consuming, subjective, demotivating for most staff and the rating and reward shenanigans at the end of the year breed cynicism. Many companies have dropped ratings, rankings, and annual reviews. According to a recent McKinsey report: “What these companies want to build—objectives that are more fluid and changeable than annual goals, frequent feedback discussions rather than annual or semiannual ones, forward-looking coaching for development rather than backward-focused rating and ranking, a greater emphasis on teams than on individuals—looks like the exact opposite of what they are abandoning.”
However, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. We think the ability of staff to collect more objective performance data using systems that automate real-time analysis is a major step in the right direction. That’s going to be much more relevant in an agile world. And more frequent feedback discussions are also a move in the right direction, as long as they don’t become too cumbersome and overbearing. But there will still need to be a mechanism for categorising performance and reward. The legal implications of not having such a system could leave the Bank wide open to claims for discrimination. Equally, it’s difficult to see how the Bank is going to close the pay gaps between men and women with such an informal system. A system of year-end informal chats is not going to work and puts too much power in the hand of line managers, a small proportion of whom have shown a marked propensity to behave unreasonably and in some cases dishonestly when trying to justify lower ratings. No system in the world can prevent abuse entirely and whatever system the Bank moves to, issues of fairness will still arise.
The Union will be conducting its own online survey and that will be going out to a representative sample of members shortly. In the meantime members with any questions can contact the Union’s Bedford Office on 01234 262868.