Interviews

Shariful Islam Mridha, Head of Human Resources, LankaBangla Finance Limited

As we emerge into a growing economy, the aggressive competition in the financial industry gives rise to the need for skilled human resources whose capabilities are accounted for leading the companies to their next level. Several vital aspects of the human resource department make it one of the most important ones for an organization to function at its best.
In search of answers to how particularly the HR function operates in our country and its overall effectiveness, Team IBT came upon Shariful Islam Mridha, Head of Human Resources, LankaBangla Finance Limited, who disclosed us the details about how his team works in collaboration to tackle the possible challenges.
Mr. Mridha has been working in LankaBangla Finance since 2014. Prior to joining LankaBangla Finance, he was the Head of Recruitment, Performance Management and HR Relationships of BRAC Bank Limited. He started off his career in 2005 with a renowned law firm ‘Sadat and Sarwar Associates’ and later switched to Human Resources Division of GrameenPhone Limited in 2006. With almost eleven years of professional experience in the Human Resources arena, Mr. Mridha now stands one of the most important HR officials in Bangladesh.

“Our friendly working environment has resulted in employee satisfaction and therefore, proved to be the best when it comes to meeting deadlines or solving bottleneck situations.”

What are the HR practices that set Lanka Bangla apart from other institutions in Bangladesh?
As we set out our expertise in numbers, our employees alongside define it to be one of the best working environments they have been in. We believe employee satisfaction is at the core of functionality for any organization. Thus, most of our HR practices are employee-driven compared to those institutions whose work practices are designed from the company’s viewpoint. Regardless of various backgrounds, every individual at LankaBangla is exposed to various situations which helps them to know their strengths and weaknesses.

What can you tell us about the working culture at your organization?
Our institution always encourages participation of employees even in the most trivial matters. This gives them a sense of motivation and helps to increase their efficiency. As they say, “It is always in the best interest of an organization to have happy employees.”
Moreover, we also promote a learning culture where every day the employees learn something new in their course of work. Our friendly working environment has resulted in employee satisfaction and therefore, proved to be the best when it comes to meeting deadlines or solving bottleneck situations.

What KPI’s do you use to measure the effectiveness of your employees?
Everyone who works in our organization has a specific job description, through which their performance is assessed. For example – The sales team is dedicated to meet targets and the number of files they process within the given time frame speaks a lot about their efficiency. Individual competencies in relation to the specific job is another part which we also assess to measure the effectiveness of our employees. Thus, our HR department constantly evaluates such factors based on which incentives such as bonus, increment, and promotion are given to an employee.

What are the main differences between the HR systems in foreign nations and the ones used in our country? How long will it take us to reach a stage where our systems are on par with those abroad?
In Bangladesh, the companies are no doubt exposed to the very basic functions of HR. We are good at creating and using automated solution regarding attendance, payroll processing, etc. But, there is no integrated solution for Human Resources. However, the HR system in many different companies worldwide, have a more integrated approach (like Strategic HR, Performance Management, Succession Planning, Learning & Development etc.). Automated solutions do not work single-handedly but are interlinked with each other to provide a better-integrated way of functioning. Thus, making the systems more efficient.
It will not be long, that our systems can come on par with those abroad, considering proper infrastructural support exists. In fact, we are about to purchase a software called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) that will help us manage our employment life cycle and integrate all our HR solutions with each other and help us to address people issue to the organization.

“It will not be long, that our systems can come on par with those abroad, considering proper infrastructural support exists.”

How does the company’s HR need influence strategic planning?
It is often seen that many companies set huge targets for the coming years from beforehand. However, in our country, a dearth of skilled human resources exists. The unavailability of good quality human resources often makes it unfeasible for the companies to achieve such high targets. Therefore, it is advisable for companies to set objectives based on the existence of right quality of human resources in the market.

What do you do to ensure the HR department’s objectives are aligned with the strategic goals of Lanka Bangla Finance Limited?
Regarding HR, we have a strategic plan for four years. All our other departments have their own set of objectives that need to be achieved within a given time frame as well. To achieve such goals the right type of human resource planning is much needed. Our, HR department is well aware of the goals of the other departments and based on which the HR strategies are devised. This helps us to bring to establish a system where our HR operations are directly aligned with the strategic goals of our company.

What measures are you taking to improve the quality of human resources at LankaBangla?
Resource development is the key to success for any organization. It is vital to engage employees into a training programme that will help to get the best out of them. In LankaBangla we conduct a programme called Training Needs Assessment (TNA) where our employees are assessed based on their performance. The assessment is then used as a foundation to plan a training program that suits the needs of our employees.

Let’s assume you encounter a problem but there are no official guidelines for solving it. What will be your course of action in that scenario?
We promote a participative approach in our company in such cases. Our top management is a part of the HR committee here. Any unforeseen event that we come across is placed in front of the committee, and a thorough discussion is run through. Anyone from the team is allowed to place their opinions and suggest necessary solutions where required. In this way, employees stay motivated, and we get the best possible solution to that problem.

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