ABSA's Sthembiso Phakathi on making line managers take ownership of people practices

He says changing mindsets was the toughest challenge after shifting to Workday

ABSA Head of Organizational Effectiveness Sthembiso Phakathi says that one of their biggest challenges after shifting to Workday has been changing the mindsets of line managers to make them feel responsible for their people practices.

Sthembiso, who will be a speaking at the upcoming HR Indaba, was speaking at the launch of the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2019 report when explained how moving to a cloud solution was a hard sell to the board and executive committee, who had legitimate concerns about data security issues. Workday is a finance and human capital management (HCM) solution that offers a wide range of functions to small, medium, and huge companies with some difference.

Said Sthembiso: “We also had to review many policies most of which were quite old so it took a lot of explaining to make them understand what moving to the cloud-based platform would achieve. But the toughest challenge we faced with the transition was convincing the line managers that moving to Workday was not a human capital intervention. It is a business platform.”

But it was a difficult task convincing managers that they can perform people practices own their own without assistance from the human capital function.

Whether that was in relation to posting vacancies, recruitment, succession planning or even disciplinary issues, Sthembiso said it was important for line managers to take ownership of every aspect of their people needs.

“As human capital practitioners, we provide guidelines, tools, frameworks and policies but the actually execution of tasks is some that can be done by managers. It was a new way to do things and that required was a huge change management  intervention,” he said.

So far, ABSA they have gone live in 6 our 10 countries and so far the challenges we have found we the those new country's and the best advantage was how seamless it has been for employees working on the platform.

“When you upgrade your phone you don't have to go for training to learn how to use it. And that’s what Workday is. It's self-explanatory and user-friendly.”

The other challenge with Workday was data cleansing and securing data integrity when we were moving to the new platform because, in such a large organisation, one can only imagine the difficulty in deciding what data to keep and which data to discard. Sthembiso explained that, as a bank with many million customers across 10 countries, clients want to interact with them differently.

“The bank will be reviewing the branch network by the end of next year because our customers are demanding that we find a way to provide a more virtual service. Through Workday and other platforms we are starting to realise that we can interact with our customers virtually.”