Transforming Nigerian Organizations – The HR Imperative.
An ancient writer once quipped; “For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity on earth”. We are living in a time where people are in desperate need for change in all sectors of life, whether in education, transport or in business. Nigerian organizations must not be left out of these changes because our organizations have been an object of ridicule both locally and internationally. Our organizations are either trapped in debt crisis or poor management, unskilled workers or blurry vision. On that note, business experts have proposed different transformational theories that will boost their organization’s efficiency as well output in terms of profit. But some of these theories have failed to yield the required change. Some years ago, two novel companies in my locality embarked on the famous “transformation agenda” to boost their presence and make profit. The first company decided to rebrand their products with a more colorful label while the other organization acquired state-of-the-art ICT facilities like security cameras and doors, computers and “computerized everything”. On the long run, both organizations failed within six months. The former saw transformation in the rebranding of products while the later saw it as technology development. They both had great ideas but they missed the line in Brown Anderson’s quote that states: “Transformation begins inside-out”. They all focused on the outside and forgot the inside, which is more or less the engine room of any transformation. Therefore, transformation in any organization is a key management initiative that helps to align an organization’s initiatives relating to people, process and technology more closely with its business strategy and vision. Even cynics and critics of modern business will agree that the best way to transform an organization in Nigeria is to use its most precious asset – Human Resources (HR).
Human beings can be considered a part of a nation’s natural resources. According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Human Resource is a term used to describe the individuals who make up the work force of an organization. On that note, suffice it to say that HR is the platform on which all organizational processes operate. Organizational processes like technology development, training, customer care and management of resources will all be handled by people. Hence, the role of HR in transforming organizations in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. There is a loud clarion call for human resource development in all Nigerian organizations owing to our place in the Human Development Index (HDI). The 2010 Human Development report, published by the United Nations placed Nigeria in far away 142 (low human development category), behind Cameroun and Ghana. This ranking embraces life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. No wonder the UN secretary, Banki Moon submitted: “People are the real wealth of a nation”. Basically, if people could transform nations, how much more people transforming businesses and organizations? Your guess is as good as mine.
Meanwhile, 2011 African report featuring the performances of African organizations in 2010 truly reveals the state of Nigerian companies. No Nigerian-based organization was included in the top 20 in Africa talk less of an indigenous enterprise. MTN Nigeria came 24th, Oando 57th, Zain (now Airtel) 94th, Flour Mills 105th, Total Nigeria 106th, Nigerian Breweries 114th, African Petroleum 120th, Julius Berger 127th, Dangote Sugar 207th. This report further stresses the need for HR development in Nigeria. The HR imperative has been implemented by many top organizations in Europe, Asia and America. Union Fenosa (UF) from Spain and DVV Insurance from Belgium are strong case studies of HR development. Union Fenosa was founded in 1983 as a result of a merger between Madrid based Union Electrica Madrileria and Fenosa. Following this merger, the organization identified a HR development need and embarked on the transformation process based on knowledge and skill development, leading to the launch of the Union Fenosa Corporate University which includes a leadership school. In the same vein, DVV Insurance, a subsidiary company of Dexia Banking Group which offers life and non-life insurance policies was established in 2001 as a result of a take-over of Artesa Banking Corporation by Dexia Banking Group. This led to important changes in the corporate organizational structure where strong, skillful and motivated leaders were appointed to improve their vast human resources. The HR strategy really transformed these companies to a higher dimension. These case studies truly reflect that an effective, efficient and excellent HR strategy should be developed to transform Nigerian organizations.