How To Weather A Storm

Funke Osibodu: In the new world in Union Bank corporate governance is very key.  And corporate governance means that for all of us there are some boundaries we don’t cross, and there is a price you pay when you cross those boundaries.  So what we initially did in the bank was to provide an environment where we said look, there’s an amnesty in terms of the way you do things that was being done in the past.  So you’re free to bring out the various things that you know based on the new rules in terms of corporate governance that you had done in the past and were wrong and let’s clean them up.
But after that, let’s do things properly and there’s no sacred cow.  So irrespective of which area you belong to, whether it’s management, whether you are part of the leadership even including the union, everything must be done according to corporate governance rules.  And when you break the code, we have a code of conduct, these are the prices you pay for it. It was tested, and we showed that for real even when you test you pay the price.  And I think when everybody saw that for real there’s no sacred cow, whether you are somebody in leadership or not.  It was realizing that look, we’ve got to do things by the corporate governance process.

Again it still goes back to the thing about communication, all the different stakeholders—the media, the staff, the various stakeholders and shareholders—you prominently keep them in the know about what is going on.  You open up your doors for them to feel free to come and ask you questions when things come their way. You are ready to share information and so there’s less of what you call the rumor mill and more of okay, we know what’s going on, and we can then make the change. 

Before, the organization was run very hierarchically, so it was only a few at the top that knew what was going on.  So I opened it up and made it more of a flat organization.  So you empower people who are far, far below to have access to information, access to data, access to knowledge that’s ordinarily because you are controlling that.

You control the way they think about things.  So when they knew the real state of the organization quite a number of people were the ones coming up with the solution.  And at some point we just sat back as executive management and allowed the people throughout the hierarchy to be the ones to go out and convince their colleagues, both those internal and external, that this is the true state of the affairs in the organization and this is the solution.  So they had to take ownership. You first have to invest in the process.  People will not believe you, but when you are consistent with it and you are open and truthful, and they can see it and cross-check on their own, then they start taking ownership.  And that was a lot of what we had to do.  
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

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