Last week I found myself reviewing job descriptions at a client bank. You may well ask how a person in such a sexy, devil-may-care career as consulting found himself performing such a droll task. I got the assignment in much the same way your disaster recovery manager and suggestion committee chairperson got their jobs — I was out of the office when the work was allocated and there wasn’t time to argue that somebody else would be better suited for the job.
But I digress. After I read 15-20 descriptions of mostly manager/officer level positions, something struck me. While there were detailed discussions of required product knowledge, regulatory expertise, necessary skill sets, leadership, vision, expected results and other job components, there wasn’t one mention of technology in any of them. Not a word. No reference to the technology-related skills the jobholders should possess or how they should understand the ways in which technology applies to their areas of responsibility (i.e., best practices). No mention of any expectation that technology be used to improve customer delivery or efficiency. No nothing.
So last weekend, I was with a group of 25 bankers and I asked how many of them had any mention of technology in their job descriptions. Only one said he did.
Why is this? If technology is a key component of your bank’s success, and it is going to revolutionize the way you deliver products and services, why haven’t we formalized technology skill requirements for managers and employees?
It is becoming increasingly important to do this because knowledge has become decentralized. PC- and browser-based systems free users from a dependency on MIS. Lines of business make more and more system selection decisions. Information is analyzed and used at the point of customer delivery. Systems are truly getting to be distributed.
With this comes a hard truth: responsibility for sales/service improvement, process improvement, and payoff from systems investments is also in the lines of business. And responsibilities are taken more seriously when they are documented and agreed upon.
Now, if nobody has actually read or used a job description in your bank since Roy Rogers was riding Trigger, forget this topic and get back to work. But if your bank hasn’t set fundamental technical expectations for key employees, maybe it’s time to start. These expectations can either focus on specific systems expertise or on deep knowledge of their application to a business (i.e., best practices).
Here are some suggestions for required knowledge in a manager job description:
You may disagree about who should have these skills, but isn’t it reasonable to expect that somebody (maybe more than one person) should be identified as owning each of them? Can you identify the person, or people, who have these responsibilities now in your bank?
Make a policy that every job description, as it is re-written, includes at least 1-3 key required technology skills. You may find it will focus discussion on the important issue of assigning accountability for systems payoff — and that can’t hurt. –tr