Thoughts & Ideas

Friday, August 29, 2014

Some Not Very Random Thoughts – I

Transfer & Postings in PSU Banks

One evening, last week, I was sitting with some friends, all of whom are either working with or had earlier put in longish stints at PSU banks in India. As is normal in such gatherings the discussion veered on-and-off to our professional experiences and one of the issues which came up has been occupying my mind and I thought that it might be worthwhile to write it down so as to crystallize my thoughts. This is regarding the role of the Association (of Officers).

There seemed to be a near unanimous feeling that the Association has played, at best, a very nefarious and destructive role with the Association bosses being a law to themselves. Some unpleasant incidents were mentioned and a couple of friends very proudly declared that they had by choice decided not to become Association members.

Now where does the Association (or the Clerical staff union) draw their strength from? From my personal experience I am aware that some officer’s Associations have done wonderful constructive work. The SBI Bhopal Association Manual is legendary in terms of depth of coverage in helping understand basic banking. I am told that the SBI Officer’s Association runs schools for staff in some of the centers. I have personally had the benefit of help from the Association on at least two occasions. The first time was when a colleague suffered life threatening gunshot wounds, the Association rallied in helping him with proper medical attention. Support from the organization was non-existent. The second time was when I faced a medical emergency in the family and was able to raise funds at short notice from the cooperative credit society run by the Association.     

However, the Association’s main strength seems to be from their using their muscle for influencing transfer & postings, other than getting suspended and charge sheeted officials off the hook. I remember at one of the branches where I worked there was a clear-cut direction to deposit a certain sum of money in the Union Account by clerical staff seeking transfers. It was not so blatant with regards to officer staff, but even here Association members were expected to make a “voluntary” contribution to the Association at the time arrears on account of periodical wage revision was received. I am aware that few Association members dared not comply with this expectation.  

Nepotism due to lack of transparency in transfers and postings was rampant and I have reasons to believe continues to remain so. While one person would get posting at a rural branch in Dipatoli (well within Ranchi) another person with equal standing in the bank, could get posted in another rural branch in the middle of nowhere, say at Sonaili Bazar or Mirza Chowki. Technically, the person getting posted at Sonaili Bazar had no reasons to complain vis a vis not being posted to Dipatoli, both were technically rural branches. It was even more insidious when it came to prized postings, such as, posting to foreign centres. The basis for selection in such cases is extremely opaque and we have numerous instances of the same person “managing” repeated postings to foreign offices while for numerous others, their candidature is not even considered!

The effect of choice of postings has an insidious effect not only on an employee’s career but more importantly on his / her morale which in turn directly affects productivity. If one did not get “good” postings, one did not have the requisite experience for the next promotion and so on and so forth. So your career is destined to be stymied.  

Apart from the physical discomfort of living in way out places, choice of posting also affects aspects of one’s life in terms of availability of proper accommodation, security of life and limb, children’s education, medical facilities etc. The worst aspect of getting a difficult posting is that there is no certainty of by when one can expect to get posted to a better location or that the next transfer would not be another hell-hole.  

Unless, clear and transparent policies on transfer and postings are laid down and seen to be implemented there is little possibility of either decrease in the malafide tendencies of the Association or improvement in the morale and productivity in our PSU banks.  

A related issue is that professionalism and work ethics of Personnel Departments of banks. Invariably it is staffed not by people with professional qualification in Personnel or Human Resources Management but by people who are from the general management cadres and expect to go back to do general banking. There is little incentive for such people to spend time and effort in acquiring deeper knowledge of dynamics of human interactions and behavior in organisations. A posting in Personnel Department is just an opportunity to play God vis a vis fellow employees.    


  • At 3:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Clear and transparent policies" and completely, or largely objective methods of evaluation are needed for selection, appraisal, increments, promotions, transfers, etc..

    Whenever human 'discretion' plays a significant role in any process, malpractices can and do happen.


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