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Axis Bank moves away from bell curve system

Source | Business Standards : By Nupur Anand

After information technology companies, banks are also now moving away from the bell-curve system of employee appraisal. Axis Bank, the country’s third-largest private sector lender, has decided to follow a new method of assessment called “Acelerate” and ditch the old system from this financial year onwards.

“We have been looking at our internal process and decided that without losing focus on meritocracy, productivity how can we look at a slightly more inclusive approach than say bell curve. We have changed our entire performance management system to look at capability that we will build and what that capability will deliver to us,” said Rajesh K Dahiya, group executive, Axis Bank.

An email regarding this has been sent out to employees, which states now the bank will be focusing on an integrated performance management and capability development system as it moves away from the bell-curve system. Typically, the bell curve segregates all employees into distinct baskets – top, average and bottom performers -with the vast majority being treated as average performers.

According to the new system, the lender said it would focus more on learning and development and use that too as a tool to measure performance. This focus on learning is also being used by the bank as a retention tool to battle attrition. With the coming of the new small finance banks and payments banks, Axis Bank has become one of the top poaching grounds, says a human resources consultant. And therefore to battle this, the bank has also been looking at investing more in its employees.

“We are losing people and we are aware of that. Axis Bank has been the port of first call. Consultants do tell us that every new bank wants people from our bank and so it is both a threat to us and a compliment. And therefore much more work has to be done by us to retain people. We are looking at investing in people and we already have such training programmes in place. We are trying to ring-fence our employees by giving them learning opportunity,” Dahiya said.

With this in mind, Axis Bank has also tied up with Coursera, an educational technology company that offers online courses to train about 12,000 employees in the first phase. The bank has selected the first batch of employees on the basis of performance over the last two-three years, their role, supervisor recommendations etc.

As a part of this, while a majority of the course structure would be decided by the human resources teams, the employees will be given the liberty to select a few courses based on their needs. The lender will be focusing on courses such as customer focus, learning the new digital world, basics of banking for new joinees, data analytics etc.

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