Until Steve Daniels was appointed head of group personnel at Ulster Bank in 1996, the company’s personnel function had been purely operational, with no involvement in company strategy. Daniels set about changing this.
He spoke to senior managers across the company about their vision for the year 2000. When they talked about profits, culture, new brands and IT, he pointed out that none of this would be possible unless staff and customers were involved. His arguments were so persuasive that he was given a seat on the chief executive committee.
Daniels then introduced a number of new ideas, including workshops looking at the company’s values in business terms. He believed that linking the goals and values of the organisation, would increase performance and job satisfaction. To this end, the HR team worked with 300 focus groups, advised by external management consultancy Blessing/White.
These groups came up with seven core values which formed the basis of the Putting Values into Action (PVIA) scheme. Between 1998 and the end of 1999, all staff were put through two-day PVIA workshops. Seventy-nine per cent said they have a better understanding of the bank’s business values, and 82 per cent said they take pride in the company.
Daniels also improved the operational side of HR, reducing the organisation from 11 separate payroll systems to two. This will be reduced to one overall system by the end of the year.
His leadership was outstanding – taking on the role of Head of Personnel when it was an unattractive proposition and then turning HR into a function fully integrated with the business.
Kevin McAlpin, Devitt Insurance
Terry O’Brien, Balfour Beatty