Sunday, November 07, 2010

Communicating with the past employees - Corporation Bank way

Retired officers of
 Corporation Bank @Chenna
If any organisation feels proud about their current status, it is mainly because of the hundreds of  faceless past employees.  Unlike the new-generation companies, the employees in public sector serve the organisations for long years and they retire after serving a minimum of 25 to 30 years.  Rarely, the managements of public sector organisations, including public sector banks realise the contriutions made by thousands of such faceless people, who were responsible for taking their organisation to the present level.  
I am an ex-senior official of Corporation Bank.  After serving nearly 25 years, I took voluntary retirement in 1998, to start my own on communication agency and media venture.  Last week, i was pleasantly surprised to receive a nicely worded letter from Mr Basti Narayan Shenoy, General Manager of Corporation Bank, Zonal Office at Chennai inviting me for a Diwali get-together on 6th November 2010 evening in the bank premises.  I also understood, he had invited other retired officials  for this get-together.  
The letter from Mr Shenoy said, "Every time we do well and our bank dons another feather in its cap, our thoughts veer around to you all, who have toiled so tirelessly and relentlessly to build a strong foundation and edifice of our bank.  Whatever the bank is now is in no small measure due to your contribution. ........"
When I received this letter, though I was rejoicing over the nice gesture shown by the Zonal Manager and his team, i could not resist going back in my memory lane to the bitter experiences, I suffered, when I left the bank in 1998.
Normally, Corporation Bank used to be in the habit of harassing the officials, when they put up their papers in the middle of their service.  Though, I had contributed substantially for the image building of the bank, I decided to quit the bank under normal scheme of VRS, for starting my own communication and media outfit.  Then only, I could see the real ugly face of their HR.  After suffering harassment, i had to leave the institution, which I served nearly 25 years, with heavy heart. (I will write about the harassment story separately in  the next posting). Though Corporation Bank used to be No 1 in the business, with the support of their staff members, they never used to connect with their past employees.
When I was talking over phone with Mr T R Bhat, former Chairman of Corporation Bank Officers Organisation, he also recalled an incident when a retired General Manger of the Bank (retired after  40 years of service) wanted to meet the then Chairman Mr J M Garg, to invite him for the Foundation Day of the retired Officers Association, the Chairman of the bank did not even give him the appointment.  
Such 'unfriendly and indifferent' attitude of the top management always sends a strong feeling among the present  employees that they are being used as  'business tools', rather than 'human being'.
When the Bank was celebrating the 100th year, sadly, none of the past employees were invited for the grand celebrations held by the bank at different centres, though they had the complete database.  The Bank had spent huge amount for providing 'gold coins' to their current employees.  In a Bank with  nearly 13,000 employees, the retired and past surviving employees with dedicated services of more than 25 or 30 years would be hardly 500 persons  across the country.  
When they spend crores of rupees on the lavish celebrations to project themselves, an invitation costing Rs.10/- would have enormously and emotionally increased the conectivity and goodwill of the past employees and their family members with the bank.  Even a small  parker pen with inscription of the great moment in the history of the bank, would have been a life long memory and recognition for those, who built the organisation stone by stone and brick by brick.  
For the past 12 years, I was suffering in silence about the poor and ugly HR face of Corporation Bank Management.  The get-together on 6th November, gave me mental comfort for my 12 year old hurt feelings.  
As a Communication professional, I feel that past employees can still support the organistion through their wisdom and experience, without much expectations.  What they need is only 'emotional connectivity'.   
Normally, good things flow from 'top to bottom'.  In this case, Chennai Zone has made a good beginning.  Hope this will escalate  from 'bottom to top'. Head Office of the Bank and other Zones will start the 'emotional connectivity' with past employees.  
Hope Mr Ramnath Pradeep, the new Chairman, will give new dimension to the HR policies of the Bank and connect with the past employees, for betterment of the bank. This will send a strong message both internally and externally. 
Please see the photo show.

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