Reduction of internal costs and increasing customer revenue were the main objectives of the Canadian National Bank. The realization of such objectives called for the implementation of a strategic plan. Among the strategies to be implemented included the expansion of distribution channels and ensuring that customer representatives became acquainted with the wide range of products and services of the bank. The bank had its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in its external environment. However, the bank faced confrontations from customers and needed a plan to provide a solution to the problem. The action plan had to include a strategic objective that required all employees to play their role and be cooperative while working towards achieving the goals.
Overview of the bank
The two main objectives of the bank were to reduce internal cost and to increase revenue per customer. Achieving these two goals required that the bank puts in place some strategic action plan. For instance, the bank introduced various distribution channels to make its services and products readily available to its customers. Another action plan that was put in place required that the customer service representatives familiarize themselves with the bank’s entire range of products and services. Because the customer service representatives make direct contact with the customers, being familiar with the entire range of services and products will enable them to refer customers towards other services offered by the bank. As a way to measure the effectiveness of the action plan, customer representatives were required to make referrals to the branch manager for reporting purposes. The bank regarded the referrals to be essential for its growth.
Generating more revenue was not the only important objective for increasing profits. The bank also had to ensure that its internal cost is controlled effectively. As a way to control internal cost, the bank introduced the customer service capacity management initiative which sought to improve service scheduling. This initiative implied that the customer service representatives would sometimes have shared jobs but their work would improve by having flexible schedules and reduced hours.
Strength and weaknesses
The major strength of the bank was the fact that it controls a huge asset base and is considered one of the largest chattered banks in Canada with a network that runs across the country. This huge asset base and nationwide network made it easy for the bank to venture into cross ownership of the four main pillars in the financial sector. This means that in addition to banking services, the bank could also venture into security, trust, and insurance. The new initiatives taken by the bank can also be considered as strength. The initiatives would make it easier for customers to access a wide range of products offered by the bank. Major weakness of the bank however, is the fact that it will have to incur cost in training staff to be able to venture in cross ownership of the four pillars in the Canadian financial sector. As demonstrated in the case study, Pam, one of the employees in the customer service department was resistance to the new initiatives. Rolling out the initiatives required cooperation from all the staff ensuring that all the customer service representatives familiarize with the new services and products.
Opportunity and threats
However, the cross ownership of the four pillars is a huge opportunity for the bank to expand and increase its services. Most clients would appreciate the idea of getting into a bank and being able to access a wide range of financial services including insurance services, investments opportunities in the stock and bond market, trust, and banking services. At the same time, technological innovations and increase in customer expectation offers perfect opportunity for the bank to venture into other non banking financial services. For instance, technology that support online trading has made its simpler to buy and sell shares, bonds, and other securities. But, with this opportunity comes the threat of new entrants. Other well established financial institutions will get the opportunity to venture into banking services and offer stiff competition to the bank.
The main customers of the bank are people seeking financial banking services. However, since the Canadian parliament made it possible to consolidate financial services and allow a single institution to offer diverse services, potential customers for the bank would include people in need of insurance policies, retirement investment plans, and people with interest to invest in securities and trust.
The problem statement
Lesley, the branch manager of Chatham branch, has had numerous confrontations one of the customer service representations, Pam. The confrontations are not the main problem in the case, however they lead to the main problem that Lesley has to deal with. Pam had made a formal complaint to the National committee for employee concerns. The complaint was in regards to the failure of Lesley, the branch manager, to allow Pam to develop professionally and as an individual. The allegations made against Lesley had the potential to cost her the position of manager since the rights of employees are protected by law. Pam wanted to take an accounting course which was somehow not related to her work or profession. She expected that Lesley would allow her not to work as she goes for classes on Thursdays. The conflict arises because Lesley made an agreement with Pam that after a brief discussion in her office. After the meeting, it was clear to Lesley that the issue had been resolved amicably. Two day later, Lesley learns from her immediate boss that Pam had secretly visited him to complain about mistreatment from Lesley. At the same time, Pam had had launched a formal complaint in form of a written statement to the National Committee for Employee Concerns with fresh allegations against Lesley. As a manager, such allegations are very serious concerns to her and she needs to know how to respond.
Relevant facts to the solution
The main relevant fact to the solution is the strategic objective of the bank which required all employees to play their role and be cooperative while working towards achieving the goals. The bank relied heavily on customer service representatives to make referrals to the customers on the other services and products offered by the bank. The referrals were therefore very important for the growth and future plans of the bank. As a customer representative, Pam did not want to make any referrals and thought that doing that kind of job would make her a sales person instead of a customer service representative. This fact is important for the solution because it would prove that Pam has not been uncooperative and did not want to work towards achieving the bank’s goals.
Another important fact is that it was hard to dismiss Pam because she was a very experienced employee and reliable in her work. She has also been appraised and the result showed that she performed above average in her work. This is an important fact for the solution because it raises questions as why Pam would not want to make the referrals all of a sudden while according to her job description, 35% of what she is required to do involves making referrals. It raises questions whether or not she knows how to make referrals. It further brings concerns as to why she received high rating in her performance evaluation while she it seemed she did not know how to make referrals.
Another important fact was the first meeting which Lesley held with all the employees immediately after taking over as branch manager. This meeting turned out well with all the employees except for Pam. Lesley noted Pam’s behavior and filed it in the personnel files. Apparently, Lesley was a little bit shocked to find Pam’s files empty. It might have occurred to her that Pam might have used intimidation as a way to have performance appraisal highly rated. This fact would indicate a symptom to Pam’s problem which was never addressed. Pam clearly said to Lesley on the first day that “we have gotten rid of other managers before and we will also get rid of you”.
It is also a fact that Pam was going through a hard time in her personal life and family. This might be a cause of her negative attitude and uncooperative behavior at work. As noted by one her personal friends and colleague, Sarah, Pam was having a hard time taking care of her teenage daughter’s baby. The family issues might have been stressing her and allowing the stress to spill over to her work. On learning about these facts, Lesley decided to be lenient on Pam. As earlier mentioned, she was very dependable making it hard to replace her.
It can be noted that when Pam had gone on leave, the work environment at the Chatham branch was very cooperative. All employees worked well and supported each other despite making a few complaints about having an extra workload. Clearly the atmosphere was different. This fact helps to demonstrate that despite being very dependable, may be Pam created an atmosphere that intimidated the other employees.
Another notable fact is that there was an agreement between Pam and Lesley which meant that she did not have to seek the counsel of Robert or launch the formal complaint to the National committee for employee concerns. Clearly, Lesley explained to Pam how important she meant o the bank and it would be hard to substitute her while she attends the lessons. Besides, the course she intended to do had little relevance to her work and there was no way in which it could contribute to her personal and professional development.
According to the complaint procedure within the bank, an employee was first to approach a supervisor or a manager. However, this did not apply if the employee felt uncomfortable talking to the supervisor or immediate manager. It also did not apply if the conversation with the manager failed to resolve the issue. Therefore, in these two cases where approaching a manager or supervisor failed to apply, the employee was required to approach the manager’s manager. If it the problem persisted, the employee was required to approach the human resource department and if the nature of the problem was too serious, the employee was free to approach the National committee for employee concerns. Complaining to the National committee for employee concerns, required one to write a confidential complaint form and send it to the committee.
Pam had followed all the procedures required to launch a complaint for any mistreatment at work. It may appear that the reason why she nodded her head in agreement with Lesley during the meeting that led to final confrontation is because she did not feel comfortable talking to Lesley. It then forced her to approach Robert for counsel however the meeting may not have resolved any issue. As a result, she therefore had to launch a formal complaint to the National committee for employee concerns. However, this was a breach of employee rules which required them to uphold confidentiality of inside information. In addition, Pam was required to “tell the truth and not mislead directly or indirectly”. Considering the fact that Pam’s problems were not that large to warranty the extent she had to go to, Pam was simply going against the employee rules. Such inside information was not supposed to be spilled to outside committees.
Criteria for making a decision
The bank had its own internal guidelines for taking action against an employee who misbehaves. It is expected from all the employees to be self motivated and conduct them in a manner to conduct their jobs satisfactorily. Punitive actions are however not taken on employees for performing unsatisfactory work. This means that if Pam was behaving in a manner that made her not perform, then the management should approach the issue in a positive progressive way. This is precisely the nature of approach taken by Lesley in handling the situation with Pam. She showed a lot of leniency and willingness to support her where she needed help. The objective of the approach is to correct the causes of such unsatisfactory behavior in a positive way through encouraging the employee to improve and helping the employee to realize his or her responsibilities. Verbal warning is normally used for first breaches of rules. If the violation recurs, a written warning is used and the employee is placed on probation to show improvement in performance. If the violation persist, the employee is sent on a decision making leave which determines the fate of the employee. However, in cases of gross misconduct, the employee is supposed to be dismissed immediately.
Alternatives: pros and cons
The alternatives involved in this case include either letting Pam go on a decision making leave or immediate dismissal. However, this has to be done only after establishing that the information she gave to the National committee for employee concerns was incorrect and created a wrongful impression of the atmosphere at her work. Suspension or decision making leave is important since the employee is still very dependable at the bank and her absence would be very costly to the bank. At the same time, suspension would give the management an opportunity to think of how they would replace her if her behaviors do not profit the bank.
Action plan and expected results
Pam was in breach of several employee rules some of which were considered to be a gross misconduct. She lied about the situation making serious allegations against Lesley. She mentioned things that meant otherwise and created a wrongful impression that she was being harassed by the boss. The actions could mainly be considered a persistent breach of employee rules because she has been in unnecessary confrontation with her boss. However, since the causes of her behavior at work could be attributed to personal and family problems, it was only prudent to address the cause of the problem and not dismissing her from work. She needed the support of her colleagues as well as the management in as much as she needed her job. As the branch manager, the best alternative based on the decision criteria is to suspend her after establishing that the information she gave to the National committee for employee concerns is inaccurate. The suspension should be done in written form.
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