By Lucy Surhyel Newman, CPT, DBA, Managing Director/CEO

FITC is a special purpose not-for-profit professional services organization, established in 1981 in Nigeria, and owned by the Nigerian Bankers’ Committee. FITC provides professional services in matters relating to the acquisition, management, and development of the human capital to the operators and regulators in the Nigerian Financial System. It operates from Abuja and Lagos through three strategic service lines sub-branded as FITC Training, FITC Consulting, and FITC Research. FITC has, from inception to date, recorded over 45,000 participants at its training programs, with many distinguished leaders in the financial services sector as past participants at an FITC program or currently supporting, as an FITC resource, a person or acting as a mentor, on a demand basis.

Does FITC work locally? Nationally? Internationally? Globally? How does your organization approach human performance technology (HPT) in each of these landscapes? Is it different? How so?

Yes, FITC works both nationally and internationally, because it has nurtured viable strategic alliances and partnerships with some leading global brands, which enable it to deliver best-in-class services to its stakeholders, in line with global standards, yet contextualized to the local environment. It has delivered various interventions in some West Africa countries, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with its programs drawing participation from organizations across the West African region.

FITC approaches human performance technology from a research-to-practice perspective, using various combinations of research, consulting, and training interventions; as such, no intervention is exactly the same as another in terms of contexts such as organization type, industry, sector, and location.

How does FITC adapt to performance improvement needs for today’s variety of generational workforces?

FITC works with clients across staff levels, from the board to entry levels. All of FITC’s organizational and individual diagnostic tools recognize staff individuality, authority level, functional role, and industry. Many of FITC’s pre-intervention assessments and studies usually seek to identify themes and patterns of issues. The organization has observed that many of the diagnosed organizational issue themes tend to differ by grade bands, staff life cycle stages, or industries.

How do you use social media in your work? As a resource? As a solution?

The social media used by FITC includes a custom-made platform, the FPPN [FITC Professional Persons Network], Facebook, and Skype.  Most of FITC’s management staff also belong to various professional groups on LinkedIn. FPPN provides opportunities for stakeholders to participate in activities. It is also an avenue to provide stakeholders with information on FITC specific news, events, and complimentary publications on FITC and the financial services sector. The platform also provides opportunity for members’ interaction and acts as a platform for stakeholders to contribute to the growth of FITC and access a network of professionals with common issues.

What is your favorite CPT-HPT story?

During the fourth quarter of 2011, FITC was initially engaged by a large insurance company in Nigeria with five decades of operations. The scope of the engagement entailed providing executive performance improvement support. FITC reviewed both the full board and executive team, using a number of diagnostic assessments, meetings, workshops, and retreats. The executive team’s job descriptions and performance indicators were reviewed, and executive-level structure, reporting structures, and career path were realigned to the company’s strategy in context of the company’s market positioning and short- to medium-term objectives. Just as the executive team’s job descriptions were reviewed, FITC also designed a Board Charter and Procedures Framework, to enhance the board process for team performance.

Based on the benefits derived from the first phase, the board of directors voted for further assessment for staff  below the executive level, and the consulting intervention was cascaded to pipeline staff (department and unit level leadership, comprising staff from senior managers to general manager levels), with a combination of face-to-face interviews, systematic reviews of profiles and backgrounds, personality and job assessments, and focus group meetings to match organizational needs with the capabilities of the workforce as represented by this senior management cadre. After the diagnosis, observable role and skill gaps within the reviewed group are now being filled via strategic recruitment into three roles. FITC also facilitated two levels of “town hall–like” meetings at which issues were discussed and targeted surveys were administered to diagnose additional performance issues, working with the board and the executive team, respectively.

The client has expressed deep satisfaction with the outcomes of the first and second phases of the intervention and has signed FITC on for phase three, which entails additional performance improvement interventions that cut across process review and redesign, IT optimization and redeployments, and performance indicator generation and obtaining stakeholder commitments, stakeholder mapping, marketing and product repositioning, culture and communication, and change management, which are all expected to translate to strong organizational renewal. The client has also consented to a phase four intervention, which will entail risk management and business continuity interventions, all expected to terminate at the end of the third quarter of 2012. FITC is hopeful that the company’s year-end position at 2012 ending will be much better than what it was as at the end of 2011.

What excites you about ISPI’s work?

Primarily, what excited me about ISPI’s work are the 10 Standards of Performance Improvement and the HPT model. I particularly like the fact that the Standards are driven by a focus on collaborative problem diagnosis and design of practicable and measureable outcomes, based on a discipline that requires application of research to practice for improving human performance in the workplace, thus enhancing systemic performance improvement. I have been with ISPI since 2004 and as a CPT since 2008, have been applying these principles over the years, and I know it always yields results and has helped my career over the years, in immense proportions.

What types of learning or performance improvement opportunities does FITC offer its employees? Its clients?

Types of learning or performance improvement opportunities that FITC offers its employees include (a)  training and developmental programs tailored to industry trends, best practices, research, and employee evaluation feedback; (b) compulsory training programs for newly recruited professional staff such as Rudiments of Consulting, basic and advanced Train-the-Trainers, Project Management, and Becoming the Trusted Adviser; (c) orientation program for newly recruited staff; (d) periodic milestone targeted behavioral trainings to compliment personal self-awareness, team, and organizational diagnosis assessments; and (e) personal development policies that encourage staff to continually update their knowledge via continued education or obtaining pre-approved professional qualifications

How has FITC’s approach(es) to performance improvement changed over time?

FITC’s approaches to performance improvement have changed over the 30 years of its existence, in line with (a) proactive planning via a tradition of having five-year strategy plans that are reviewed annually and rolled over; (b) four cycles of visionary leadership by the respective CEOs applicable to the issues in the environment, over the years; and (c) partnership opportunities that tend to challenge FITC’s practices and stretch its orientation.

What interesting things does FITC do to manage and develop its human capital?

Interesting things FITC does to manage and develop its human capital include: (a) sound recruitment and selection process; (b) training and development programs; (c) employee motivation – recognition, rewards, managing competitive salaries, good working environment, special events, solidarity benefits, accident-free benefits, quarterly happy hour program; (d) performance management–robust performance management system (360 degree feedback), reward of professional ethics, integrity and commitment, (e ) good succession planning, (f) management information system–effective communication of management’s strategic decision via electronic means; (g) provision of employee services–catering for welfare of employees in terms of their mental and physical well-being, e.g., meal subsidy, staff bus scheme, end-of-year party, birthday wishes via cards to staff and family members, creche facility, canteen facility, paternity leave; and (h) good leadership example from the top.

How does human performance technology add value to FITC? How do you measure its worth and value?

My advocating for and applying HPT based on the ISPI 10 Standards in our internal firm practices and in the professional services we provide has positively affected FITC. These outcomes are evidenced in three recent awards to FITC.

First, in April 2012, FITC emerged as the seventh best place to work in Nigeria, from a pool of over 225 participating organizations in the Great Place To Work (GPTW) rankings in the 2011/12 survey. Ratings on the various parameters in the GPTW survey were benchmarked against the Fortune 100 cluster’s 2011 average before arriving at this outcome. For us at FITC, the implications of our being in the top 10 organizations on the list of GPTW is that FITC appears on the website of the Great Place To Work Institute, as one of the first set of best work places not only in Nigeria but in Africa. If this development is taken in the context of the FITC mandate and lines of services, as a professional services firm, it means we walk our talk and can help our stakeholders attain similar outcomes, based on our experience of our journey, among other things.

Second, in May 2012, FITC received its first international award for service quality when we received the Gold Category award, based on client recommendations and due diligence. The presentation of the award took place during the annual International Quality Summit Convention held in the United States, at the New York Marriott Marquis Convention Hall. This recognition is based on the criteria of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model, implemented in over 100 countries. The award recognizes and encourages the contribution of companies to quality, continuous improvement, and customer satisfaction as well as improving relations with employees, suppliers, and all those associated with the company.

Third, Aspire West Africa will be presenting FITC an award “Training Excellence and Innovative Services in West Africa,” in Accra Ghana. This is another cherished recognition of FITC’s emerging role within the West African sub-region.