Human Resources: The Role of Field Officers & Robust HR Policy

No Gravatar

Microfinance Focus, Oct 15, 2010 (Colombo): Field Officers who are the central stakeholder and face of the microfinance organizations are crucial to the growth of microfinance sector and their capacity building is essential for achieving financial inclusion. These were the thoughts that emerged during the panel discussion on Human Resources at the Asia Microfinance Forum 2010.

As the frontline staff of the microfinance industry, field officers and other branch staff play a central role in implementing their MFIs’ mission and achieving maximum outreach. Capable and well-trained staff is key and are dependent on robust human resource policies and training programs. However, many of the region’s sectors are suffering high staff turnover due to increased competition from both within the microfinance sector and from mainstream commercial banks.

Shankar Man Shrestha, CEO of Rural Microfinance Development Centre (RMDC, Nepal) which provides training to staffs and clients of Nepal’s’ microfinance institutions said, “If you don’t have a quality personnel you cannot have quality programs as I believe that an institution cannot go ahead of its personnel and I feel field officer plays a very imp role in boosting up the microfinance operation. They are the harbinger of microfinance development and they can be considered as the road builder for microfinance”.

Touching upon the crucial role of field officers, Mr. Shankar said, “They are the identifier of the need of the clients. A field officer is also a conflict manager as he is the one who deals with the clients and is continuously involved in interaction with the groups. We have to be very careful in handling a loan officer as he is also an image builder”.

“I think some new institutions lack good human policies. Institutions need to have a good code of conduct and the field officers should be well informed about it. We need to create well defined job description for them and well defined staff rules. They should be given the opportunity to make a career in microfinance and should be given chance to move up”, he added.

Dr. Vandana Nadig Nair, Partner of CoCoon, India which has worked with microfinance organizations like Ujjivan and Grameen said, “There is very little opportunity to impart training to field officers. Outside of microfinance, companies leverage technology to deploy large scale training, they train through coaching and lateral movements for capability buildings. Within microfinance there are interesting practices for capacity building like leveraging operations managers to deploy custom-created training to loan officers, utilizing the power of audio-visual media among others”.

She also pointed out to the fact that Domain Training is very important to all microfinance personnel and getting them back to the customer from time to time is also essential.

Jacqueline Lord, Chief HR Officer, LOLC Group, Sri Lanka which is into microfinance since 2004 and currently has 178 field officers said, “The success lies in cross communication between those in the fields and those in the business policy departments to assess the emerging needs from the fields”.

“We at LOLC are able to attract and retain good employees because of our robust HR policies. We provide training opportunities to almost 90% of our employees to enhance capabilities and capacities”, she said. In her opinion, key factors to retain loan officers include reputation of the organization and the growth opportunities it provides.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Recent Comments