In 2009, over ninety people across Personal Banking (PB) were working on sixty initiatives to improve the ‘capability’ of PB employees. They were focused on perceived unique business unit challenges and were not utilising NAB’s central learning and development offerings –
leading to duplication in design, build and delivery.

Customer satisfaction, sales productivity and staff turnover measures indicated that this clear investment in people capability was not achieving the desired effect. In mid-2010, PB developed and commenced implementation of a shared Capability Strategy (‘Strategy’) to ‘Improve our people capability and realise their potential’ in a coordinated and effective manner.

PB recognised that undertaking a conventional organisational restructure to centralise the resources working on capability was not the solution to our challenge. Adopting a command and control system and a top down strategy would remove the learning and development capability from the business reality, increasing the risk of a rise in ‘cottage industries’ in business units and ultimately limiting our ability to deliver PB’s business strategy.

Instead, Cass and Geoff working with a broad range of business stakeholders sought to understand and address the system in which we operated –  acknowledging that by working collaboratively to do this, and harnessing the collective wisdom across PB, we could develop a shared strategy that would more effectively help us achieve our goals.

Progressive leadership was demonstrated in the approach undertaken to create the Strategy via:

  • Establishing a Capability Community (‘Community’) with representation from each business unit.
  • Upskilling that Community in Systems Thinking.
  • Developing a systems map – a shared understanding of the root causes and intervention levers of the system.
  • Co-developing the Strategy based on the understanding of the system, through a ‘Capability Strategy Café’.
  • Securing endorsement of the Strategy by the leadership team, sending a message of trust in the collective wisdom.

The journey undertaken set us up for success to execute the Strategy as it was owned by the whole Community. It gave clarity of PB’s commonalities and focus for their collaboration, while acknowledging differences in business unit requirements. Teams had the flexibility and freedom to address specific needs whilst having access to common methodologies.

While Strategy implementation is continuing, to date a number of initiatives have led to productivity improvement. For example:

  • A 10 per cent uplift in the retail business unit ‘Sales per Sales FTE’ (sales made for each full-time salesperson) as a result of the Inspire Program.
  • Improved ‘time to proficiency’ (time taken to equip employees with the skills, resources and knowledge required to effectively deliver in their role) as a result of the PB Induction Program.
  • Increased knowledge of PB as a result of the PB Induction Program. For example, a June 2011 survey of participants told us that 90 per cent were confident their knowledge of PB had increased as a result of viewing the portal alone.
  • Reduced time to role proficiency from 8-12 months to four months in the nabBroker business unit, determined via an evaluation of a new induction program.
  • Greater efficiency in delivering capability initiatives to the business, a result of more collaboration and less duplication.

As PB continues to embed Strategy initiatives more macro measures of improved productivity will be analysed, such as absenteeism, turnover and engagement results.

The strategy has also been recognised by industry peers, winning the 2011 AHRI ‘Wayne Cascio Award for Organisational Development and Leadership’.