October 28, 2010
Stephanie Denzer is Program Associate for Grameen Foundation’s Human Capital Center (HCC). This is her first blog post from a recent trip to Peru where she participated in a Human Capital Management Assessment of a Microfinance Institution (MFI) in the process of transforming into a regulated institution.
On a day when the humidity made it clear that rain was imminent, in the rear of a small branch office in Aguaytía, a rural town in Peru’s Amazon, we spoke with John, a branch manager for Microfinanzas Prisma, about a concept that would be just as familiar in an air-conditioned high rise of corporate America – the importance of having an inspiring mentor as a supervisor. John told us about how his former boss, the previous branch manager, had cultivated a group of highly dedicated and engaged loan officers by constantly discussing their performance with them and making sure they had the necessary support to accomplish their daily work. Now that he has been promoted to this same position, he works hard to maintain the team camaraderie his predecessor built and ensures that each loan officer receives special recognition when going the extra mile to support the branch office’s goals.
I was in Peru to assist with the implementation of Grameen Foundation’s Human Capital Management Assessment tool, intended to be the starting point for aligning an organization’s human capital management practices (leadership, culture, talent acquisition, learning & development, rewards/recognition, etc.) with its overall business strategy. We believe that MFIs who are smart about managing their human capital will be more successful in achieving growth, maximizing the value of their workforce, and ultimately, reach greater numbers of the world's poorest people.
We work with MFIs to help them cultivate more leaders like John – individuals who understand the value of investing in developing and managing their teams. We also help MFIs develop and adopt the type of “people practices” that result in an integrated human capital management system across the organization. Promoted to branch manager just eight months ago, John needs to know that he has someone to look to for guidance when he has a question about handling one of the many challenges that comes from managing a team.
When we visited John’s branch, his team of loan officers was consistently meeting the branch’s client outreach and PAR (portfolio at risk – a standard industry measure of an institution’s portfolio quality) performance goals. The team of six men, along with one female branch accountant/office manager, seemed to get along like a close-knit group of siblings. As we left the branch after the mid-morning rain had cleared the air, they were each getting down to their daily tasks: screening clients, executing loans, and collecting repayments from the many poor clients their branch proudly serves.
The Human Capital Center (HCC) completed in-depth field research in India this past May on the need for strong middle managers. There is a global need for strong leaders at all levels and HCC is working in Peru, India, and around the world to meet this need and support MFIs as they strengthen their ability to better support their staff.