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Standard Chartered Bank Managing Human Resources

Executive Summary

This report is a case study on Standard Chartered, and the strength-based approach in the bank has been discussed with its benefits and also disadvantages. Another case study of the bank with comments from an HR Manager regarding the benefits of the approach has been included. The talent management program shall help Standard Chartered to maintain a limited pool of talent and also develop a leadership capacity. This program is strategic to the success of banks in this financial turmoil since all banks of a credible decree have implemented an innovative approach to strategic talent management and also recruiting in order to strengthen their workforce. The recommended performance appraisal systems have been explained, and the reasons have also been given as to why they have been recommended and how they will help the bank. Being an employer of choice has always proved to be profitable for an organisation in terms of credibility and productivity in the market. This program shall help the bank understand the importance of a successful recruiting program like “Right Start” in the case of Standard Chartered. A successful recruiting program can help adopt certain approaches such as data mining, customer relationship management, competitive intelligence, assessment metrics from other functions of the business and niche marketing. The report assesses the strengths-based approach in the bank and how it has benefited the bank or can create issues.

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The world has evolved dramatically with automobiles, steel, tire, and various other industries had erupted during the industrial revolution. A number of countries came into the limelight, like Japan, Germany, and Taiwan, against the European Union. Organisations make up a nation because they provide jobs, earnings, the standard of living; they influence lifestyles and, at times, culture. Without organisations, a country can never grow. Some developing nations are dependant on imported stuff, and that has adversely affected their domestic market, which is the main reason why these countries never develop and are either taken over by an influential culture or vanish from the face of the earth. On the other hand, who makes the organisations? It’s the people who make an organisation, and without people, the organisation is just a still building with equipment which is useless because it’s the human mind that commands control over these still things and turns them into gold for nations.

Human resources refer to the people of an organisation. Human resource managers seek to facilitate the contribution people make to achieve an organisations goals and strategies. As a slogan at a Union Carbide Plant puts it, “Assets make things possible, people make things happen.” It is important that human resource strategies support organisations objectives because they play a significant role in helping companies to achieve their objectives and goals (William &Davis, 2004).

The central challenge facing organisations is the continued improvement of our organisations, both private and public. The people make an organisation, so they are responsible.

Central Challenge

The rationale behind human resource management is to develop the constructive input of people to the organisation in ways that are responsible in a strategic and moral way keeping in mind the social construct. Human resources determine every organisation’s success! HR manages the people of an organisation and not the factors that shape the employee’s contribution in an organisation like capital, materials and procedures. Thus, HR can be termed as ambitious in this sense of the word (Baron & Armstrong, 2007).

A strategic plan is the company’s plan for how it will match its internal strengths and weaknesses with external opportunities and threats in order to maintain a competitive edge. The essence of strategic planning is to ask that where does the company stand currently and where does it see the company in the future, but a strategic plan helps devise the plan of how to get there accordingly. It is the responsibility of the manager to formulate specific human resources and other resources plus strategies to take the company from where it is now to where the company aspires to be (Millmore & Saunders, 2004).

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Performance appraisals are extremely important since they increase two-way communication between management and workers, results in mutual planning and goal setting helps identify performance problems and requirements, space for employee growth (promotions, etc.) and job satisfaction. It is important to retain employees since an organisation is useless without them.

Performance appraisals also help in taking employee-development related actions, and these can be to cater to the needs of dissatisfied employees in order to increase job satisfaction and recognition so that employee turnover can be prevented. It is important to help the employees grow personally by helping them to fulfil their self-actualisation needs. It is also important to check for employee obsolescence that is when the employees do not possess the knowledge or abilities to perform competitively, and that is where they require training and development programs to boost their careers. In this case, the management style of the manager is highly incompetent and obsolete (Boxall & Purcell, 2008).

The strengths-based program at Standard Chartered is very useful for the bank because research shows that organisations that assist employees to focus on their strengths are the most successful. This program has helped the employees to find out their five strengths, and there are 200 trained HR managers in the bank who help employees to understand and capitalise on their strengths. Thus, the program has proved to be very effective since it has given employees their space to identify and improve on their strengths which leads to personal as well as organisational development.

The strengths-based approach used in Standard Chartered Bank’s Talent Management Program

The strengths-based approach at Standard Chartered is unique. It accordingly adapts to the environment in the organisation, and it has proved to be effective and successful as a strategy since it has benefits to the organisation on the whole. The approach helps purport to the features of implementing strategic human resource management and managing human resources more effectively, thus leading talent to benefit the organisation.

Company's strategic

Banks are based on numbers, and they count their success and achievements in numbers as well. Standard Chartered implemented a talent management program to analyse its workforce and also its contribution to the success of the organisation. The three main features of SHRM are benefits of the strengths-based approach, which are organisational level, focus and framework. The strength-based approach has helped the bank manage their human resources strategically, helping them develop along with the organisation, so the strengths-based approach is the engine to strategic human resource development in Standard Chartered. The organisational level illustrates the major policies, key goals and allocation of resources of an organisation since they support the implementation of the strategy, so this feature of SHRM has to be considered on top of all during strategy implementation. Talent management in Standard Chartered was much needed regarding their current position in the market, especially with the financial downturn. The talent programme at Standard Chartered is well tuned with the organisational policies, aims and allocation of resources since they provide a service, and for a service organisation, the most important factor of the marketing mix is “people.” Since talent is limited in the market, so the bank aims to build its own people via training. The bank wants to increase its leadership capacity by 2011, which is an aim, and the talent management programme is assisting in achieving this strategic aim. The bank is spread across 50 countries around the world with 60,000 employees with 100 different nationalities. The bank is fighting for a limited pool of talent which has led it to implement the talent management programme, which will help achieve the organisational aim strategically, and this is a good example of strategic human resource management. The talent management programme at Standard Chartered does abide by this feature of SHRM since their programme aims to achieve the organisational aims and policies effectively. This limited pool of talent aims to achieve a leadership capacity in order to have a significant workforce. The programme will help appraise the performance of all managers since the bank needs good managers who can motivate the staff and kinder excellent performance in all. This will help to identify talent and retain the best or even train and improve the rest. Leadership is essential for any organisation. Being the aim of the bank, it shows their talent management programme fits with the first feature of SHRM. It has been twenty years since Meindl, Ehrlich, and Dukerich observed in their provocative article ‘The Romance of Leadership’: ‘it has become apparent that, after years of trying, we have been unable to generate an understanding of leadership that is both intellectually compelling and intellectually satisfying (1985.p. 78). Two decades on, it would seem an opportune time to take stock of this diffuse and ubiquitous field by examining the diverse arguments and analyses of leadership processes that have emerged during the intervening period (Drucker, 2004).

The concept of leadership has been an enigma of social democracy since the classical philosopher-kings of Plato. It also remains an elusive and enigmatic issue in management studies, with significant debate about how to understand, interpret, and otherwise give meaning to the nature and role of leadership. Most leadership research of the last 50 years has been conducted in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe. This places stress on the individual and managers rather than workers. The result is that our perception of leadership might well be affected by a series of learnt assumptions (for example, ‘leaders make a difference’):

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that depends on fundamentally assumed theories that stress causal laws and relationship between variables’ (for example, leadership styles and behaviour are influential and important for organisational activities and outcomes).

Focus is another benefit that purports the importance of strategies that bring organisational effectiveness. This means employees are human resources that have to be managed in order to meet the strategic business goals. The strengths-based approach at Standard Chartered aims to manage its human resources in order to meet the strategic business goal that is to develop a limited pool of talent and leadership capacity within the bank since the availability of talent is limited and existing employees, if talented, shall be retained, or the rest can be trained. But the underperformers have to be removed and planted in some other profession or what may suit. Simply placing employees in jobs does not ensure their success. They need guidance to understand their roles and responsibilities. Training helps a person do their current job, but training has benefited a person throughout the career path and helps to develop a person overall for future responsibilities. The bank has also had an effective recruiting program implemented, which is called “Right Start.” This further helps find new talent and achieve the strategic business goals of the bank. Talent management has helped Standard Chartered create a focus that will assist in achieving its strategic business aims and goals.

The third benefit is a framework that includes strategies that provide a broad, contingency-based and integrative framework. HR goals and activities need to be different according to different environments in order for them to be mutually reinforcing. The strengths-based approach helps employees to identify their strengths and work on them, due to which they remain motivated, and their appraisals come out quite good, and the organisation benefits as well. The approach can enable the bank to become the employer-of-choice brand and a leader since this program shall help to prioritise jobs, cut costs and focus more on “game-changers” or a person who shifts rapidly, which is an issue with the bank during this financial meltdown. This program will assist in planning, redeployment, utilising analytics and also leveraging the internet, so it shall help make effective use of contingent workers, usually the ones about to retire. The program shall also strengthen brand equity in the market and develop the employer brand of the company. Helping employees capitalise on their strengths will help develop a competitive workforce that will be the major strength of the bank in the longer run. The program will assist in workforce planning and will also help all employees grow personally, which will benefit the organisation in the long run since a motivated workforce guarantees increased productivity. Being proactive in every way, especially in retaining talent and strengthening internal plus external equity, shall be beneficial in the longer run. Through this program, effective compensation programs can be devised in order to motivate employees further. Thus the talent management program shall prove to be a driver in the long run for Standard Chartered (Marcus & Kurt, 2004).

The direct benefit of the strength-based approach is that it helps to manage human resources strategically, and further, it has its own benefits, as discussed above. The approach has further benefits as follows (Reilly, 2004):

  • It facilitates management through measurement
  • It provides guidance on what to measure, how to measure and provide the concluding results for it.
  • It provides a direction to HR strategies, and that superior people management provides superior results
  • Creating value through people using HR strategies
  • Connecting HR and business strategies
  • HR specialists are business partners
  • Human resources are the most important asset for an organisation.

The talent management program fits all three features of SHRM that include organisational level, focus and framework. Thus, the strengths-based approach also helps managers find their strengths via strengths finder test and capitalise on their strengths particularly; it fits with the third feature of SHRM as well, and it provides a framework that supports all organisational policies and aims. Thus, it enables the achievement of all strategic business goals with a focus (Vere, 2007). Obviously, when employees love what they do, they are highly motivated in their job (Anderson et al., 2005).

To validate the benefits, the crux of a case study of Standard Chartered proves that the strength-based approach truly benefits the bank. Kari Nelson, an HR manager at the bank, stated that the bank had improved its HR practices. They are now focusing on improving the strengths of their employees and also helping managers to manage better. The bank focuses on helping employees understand their talent and how they can streamline their talents on their job. The bank aims to convert natural talents into world-class strengths. The bank is now experiencing a high-performance work environment, which has made the bank the employer of choice that attracts and retains the best talent. This approach has to lead to a strong financial performance of the bank, according to Nelson, and since 2000 when the approach was introduced, the pre-tax profits have increased by 251%, and of course, the approach promises a great future for the bank (Brown & White, 2004).

The strength-based approach has a major disadvantage that is that employees grow personally, and when they feel they are fully equipped, they look for other opportunities in other organisations where they get more benefits. This leads to a turnover in the organisation. But if the retention policy is strong, then this only disadvantage of the approach can be easily overcome (Reilly, 2008).

Recommendations of performance appraisal systems that Standard Chartered can use effectively

Performance appraisal systems have to be effective since they are extremely important, and there can be other methods that the bank can adapt. The recommended appraisal systems that Standard Chartered can use are as follows (Munzell and Moore, 2009):

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  • 360 Degree Appraisal is feedback on the performance of the particular employee from all around that are peers, subordinates and supervisors. This feedback is very commonly and effectively used in banks all over the world since it helps identify employee’s strengths and weaknesses for training and development. This method also helps to take an administrative decision like promoting or demoting or managing out employees according to their performance. This method will build on their strengths-based approach.
  • 180 Degree Appraisal is a method in which the particular employee is appraised by the immediate supervisor only, which is good to find out how the employee has been performing on a particular project under the supervisor. This helps to identify which employee is doing best on a project and who needs more training or simply who is wrong for the project and the job. This is a good way of appraising in banks and is widely used.
  • General Performance Appraisal is a form that has fields that have to be marked according to the performance of the employee. The form is filled by the employee and the supervisor, and it includes a section of evaluation of the performance plus comments from both parties. This helps to identify the gaps in the performance of the employee and where training is required. This will give the bank a general overview of the foundation of the appraisals.
  • Technical Performance Appraisal is an appraisal by the administration but only of the technical expertise of the employees, and this helps to identify the gaps in the performance of the employee strictly related to the technical skills of the employee on the job. This will help the bank to appraise the technical skills of managers and employees.
  • Manager Performance Appraisal is the appraisal of managers which is needed in Standard Chartered since they are coming up with ways to develop their managers to make them more effective, so this appraisal can help them come up with better programs for management development.
  • Employee Self Assessment is an assessment of performance by the employee themself. Often employees want to know their performance at every level, and this can be done through the job description or set objectives or even comparing with past performance. This stimulates the employees since they are able to recognise their own limitations and, as a result, work on them. This program will help build on their strengths-based approach and motivate employees further to overcome any weaknesses and perform effectively.
  • Project Evaluation Review is a review that is taken at the end of a project that how it had been completed. The gaps in performance or methods are identified but of the employees and the managers as well, which helps to improve the performance of both parties. This helps to remove the gaps for future projects. This will help the bank review in terms of particular projects and also help to show the performance of teams of all branches around the globe.
  • Sales Performance Appraisal will help the bank to appraise the performance of the number of accounts opening or customers coming to the bank because of the good performance of the employees and management (Richards, 2007).


This case study was a detailed analysis of the strengths-based approach and performance appraisal systems in the light of HR, specifically in Standard Chartered. Thus, HRM is essential for every organisation in today’s world, and the role of HR has become very significant lately. HRM is all about people, and they make an organisation. The employees have needs, and if their needs are not satisfied, then they tend to switch to other organisations, and that increases turnover for the employees. The companies can adopt strategies that help to improve the attraction of new employees and help retain employees. There are policies that a company can adopt in order to become the employer of choice in the market. An organisation can adopt strategies and become the best in the market and be able to retain the best employees and attract the best ones in the market.


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