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To Get Ahead, Be Agile And Adaptable

Posted on 2020-05-13 07:00:00

RHB’s Group Chief Human Resource Officer Jamaluddin Bakri tells us why being agile is important in the changing landscape of banking.

When was the last time you actually walked to your bank physically and spoke to the teller? Chances are it’s been a while and you don’t foresee yourself doing this very often these days. That’s because banking in the 21st century has taken on a different meaning and turn altogether, thanks to the introduction of digitalisation. Like with almost every area of our lives, technology has had a very big effect and has altered almost everything – including the way we bank. And there’s no saying how else technology will structure the way the banking sector operates as some financial experts claim there’s more to come and we are merely at the beginning of this revolution.

"We need to be able to respond to this changing customer landscape."

With the changing dynamics of what people expect when it comes to banking now, it has become Jamaluddin Bakri’s mission, Group Chief Human Resource Officer at RHB, to turn the financial institution into an agile and adaptable entity while still holding true to its core values. “Customers today have different expectations: They want to bank less. They want a very simple way to do their banking, and we need to be able to respond to this changing customer landscape,” says Jamal.

In other words, the bank will need to be quick and swift with its response to how technology is impacting its industry. To prepare for this new landscape, it ultimately falls onto the people in the bank to anticipate, understand and adapt to these changes. In fact, it is crucial for bankers to be one step ahead of their customers, always innovating so that it is continuously improving its services and at the same time, taking advantage of the new ideas birthed from technology. This way, banks like RHB will remain relevant and in the same stride as its customers.

For this to happen, human capital productivity is key. To lead its talent towards this direction where they are able to quickly respond to changes and not be left behind in the name of disruption, RHB has implemented several productivity initiatives including AGILE@Scale. While it may seem a radical move from how banks historically operate, such initiatives are necessary given the current dynamics. “The important thing is how we develop our people to have the skill in terms of managing the customer’s expectations,” says Jamal.

For an idea of what AGILE@Scale is: The initiative encourages RHB employees to think swiftly and conclude efficiently using different processes for faster speed-to-market products and services and increased productivity with a closer focus on customer needs. It is fundamentally about instilling customer-centricity, becoming output-oriented, adapting amidst uncertainty and empowering teams so that RHB is able to retain its competitive edge as a leading bank in this new banking landscape.

Since being implemented in 2018, RHB’s AGILE@Scale has reaped productivity and efficiency benefits across the Group and it continues to do so. “More than 2,000 employees have been flipped to date. In fact, RHB’s Group HR has flipped into AGILE in March 2020. To prepare them for the AGILE way of working, our HR leaders have been participating in the Strategic and AGILE HR Leaders Workshops,” says Jamal.

This has also influenced how the bank treats its own employees and the talent they hire. Says Jamal, “As we plan to be a fully AGILE organisation by end of 2021, RHBians are expected to live the AGILE Leap values in their day-to-day work, which of course are the traits of candidates that we look for in our hiring efforts. We need to listen to them and understand their needs. From then on, we can design suitable programmes that fit those needs.” Some of the programmes include augmenting the new hire eligibility criteria with agility and inductive reasoning to bring in the right talent, and enhancing the pre-employment experience with the use of video interviews for a more immersive digital experience and faster turnaround time.

The bank is also focused on nurturing and developing talent so that employees can look forward to long-term job satisfaction. “We invested a lot to train leaders. Some are born with it but it’s something that we can develop in people. You can train people to become leaders and I really believe in this,” says Jamal. This is on top of the other agile-based training to help its talent have the competency and skills to weather the coming changes.

Personal development is also top of Jamal’s list on how to encourage agile as a work culture. Traits such as creativity, judgment and decision making, service orientation, cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence are all competencies that are very relevant in this era to thrive. Additionally, he’s intent on giving RHB talent the opportunities they need to excel, which will indirectly benefit the company. “Some people look at outside opportunities so they need to be given the opportunity to develop and learn new things internally. Once we are able to continue to give them that, they will stay with the organisation,” says Jamal.

By Hadi Azmi


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