'In these difficult times, one UK government-owned bank continues with some highly inefficient and frankly bizarre practices.
In the next few days, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is expected to begin the latest round of redundancies within the support areas for its Global Banking & Markets unit. And these job losses will mostly hit personnel who provide IT and operational support to the businesses being run down or divested by the bank following its 2007 merger with ABN AMRO.
But these redundancies alone will achieve nothing. At the heart of the problem is an acceptance that getting things done at RBS, or making change happen, is almost impossible. The introduction of layers of process - rather than pragmatic and dynamic problem-solving - seems to be the preferred approach. And this is just one factor that has badly impacted morale, and caused individual and collective productivity to be in a permanent state of entropy. Once you marry lacklustre leadership with poor managerial practice and cost oversight, then the ridiculous is born.
Over two years on, and hundreds of millions of pounds later, North Star (the name given to the bank's technology and infrastructure investment program for front office), is still ongoing. Bloated with over 100 PMO (or Project Management Office) personnel, staffed in large part by, in my view, inexperienced and frankly largely ineffective management consultants from the Big 4, North Star remains a costly exercise in red tape and waste generation which rolls inexorably on. And I believe it is characterized by a general lack of incisive decision-making and uninspiring leadership.
Over the next few days, a number of IT personnel will be provided with a letter informing them that they have been placed at risk of redundancy. And although many will have to cope with feelings of rejection and go through the multi-stage healing process akin to a divorce, for others it will be a blessed relief that they will no longer be a part of an organisation that appears to be bereft of real leadership at a senior level, and where individual effort is never going to make any difference.
Also next week, a new batch of management consultants (fresh horses) will arrive at RBS in another doubtless futile effort to bring about the changes necessary to take the bank forward. Many will move on relatively quickly (as they always appear to do), with all continuity and momentum lost.
And joining the bank's full-time payroll in the coming weeks will be a number of 'conversions' - temp or contractor staff who will be given full time jobs. And one of the features of this move is that managers will have to swallow the fact that many of the contractors they are now being asked to supervise will be earning sometimes considerably more than they do themselves. And this sets up an interesting dynamic, where managers who are responsible for annual appraisals and the career management of some of these individuals, are not privy to some of the vital information required to measure performance and assess value.
But probably the most galling to the RBS 'faithful' is the bank's obsession of 'buying in' management talent from outside the organisation. For several years now, a number of mid-to-senior level managerial roles have been filled by hiring people from rival firms - preventing the large body of young talented RBS professionals, who know the shortcomings of the bank and are committed to trying to make things work, from coming up through the ranks and making a difference.
And this influx of external talent often results in tweaks being made to the bank's organisational structure to accommodate individuals. Progress seems to be halted pending re-org after re-org, and the resulting reporting lines often make no sense to those of us on the inside, simply promoting internal rivalry and providing another barrier to much-needed change.
As taxpayers, of course, we all have a stake in the RBS business - and, in my opinion, someone needs to get underneath the surface and take a long hard look at the way money is being wasted and progress is being stifled by a lack of effective leadership and accountability. Something has to change - or RBS never will'.
A spokesperson for The Royal Bank of Scotland told us: 'The redundancies that RBS announced in September are part of a programmed set of efficiencies as well as reflecting the success of the ABN AMRO integration programme. We will do all we can to support our staff, offer redeployment opportunities wherever possible and keep compulsory redundancies to an absolute minimum.
'RBS has clearly demonstrated a change in culture over the last two years, including a new management team and a turnaround plan for the Bank. We are almost two years into this five year plan and have made significant progress'.
Here Is The City understands that the majority of the current job losses will come in the form of temps and contractor positions not being renewed. It is also understood that RBS aims to minimise job losses as far as it can and is looking at other ways to reduce costs and headcount other than by redundancy. This includes natural staff turnover.