As part of our CHAT WITH MANAGEMENT segment, Chrome Digest took time out with Chrome Group Admin Manager, Chief Innocent Anoliefo (GAM) to discuss a number of issues pertaining to Chrome’s administration in 2014 and the current year. A number of questions and issues were raised bothering on synergies, collaborations and partnerships, and how Chrome’s new administrative policies will affect the respective subsidiaries, several of our working partners and staff. Also discussed was how these new policies will impact on the administrative workings of Chrome as a whole. Enjoy!
Chrome Digest: The duties of your office are quite enormous and demanding. Could you intimate us on what the office entails as far as the Chrome Group is concerned?
GAM: First, the office is umbilical and linked to other departments like the Human Resource (HR) and Finance departments. The admin department is the engine that lubricates the smooth running of the entire Group. It’s a very important department in the Group. A lot of things that are not departmentalised are located or pushed to the admin department to oversee but the core areas or duties of the admin department include logistics like vehicles, purchases, maintenance, allocation, supplies like stationeries, the allocation of these materials among others, all fall under the admin department. Also, the office have oversight function across so many areas and like I said, every other area that is not departmentalised fall under the supervision of the department and that is why my department which is the Group head office is linked with our subsidiaries across the whole federation. I work directly with the admin officer in Kaztec, the office in Calabar, Ogudu here in Abuja, the one in Lagos and other sub offices like the SUF office in Abuja has an admin officer who reports to me. The head office in Oraifite has a dotted line linked to me and so I am able to coordinate all these sub departments or all the subsidiaries so that our activities are in tandem and synchronized so that when once there is a policy issue affecting us, it permeates all the subsidiaries and that is probably one of the things we do. We anchor as far as admin is concerned which is wide and varied. Our office could also tend towards other areas like staff welfare which though is purely a HR matter, we discover that the admin department is heavily involved in such things and so we are essentially linked, like I said, with both the HR and the admin department. Even other departments all have their anchors or roots in the admin because we service all of them.
Chrome Digest: The year 2015 is here already, what plans are in place administratively for the entire year within the Chrome Group?
GAM: We have a very robust plan. One of the things that are ongoing now is to formulate or reformulate the admin policy and as you may be aware, there is a consultant currently working on restructuring the entire Chrome Group. Part of the expectations that will emerge from this is a reformulated admin handbook, policy or manual that will streamline in a better way the activities of the admin officers and admin departments across the entire Group. This is one of the things we are hoping to achieve this year and it is going to probably enhance the administrative duties in the Group. Every other thing, for example, is tied into it more or less. However, what we’ve had over the years is not a comprehensive or compressed manual but they are here scattered here and there but with this ongoing activity, we hope to probably come out with a unified system of administering the Chrome Group. It is one sure bet where every other thing will be tied into it. For example, the issues concerning vehicles, more or less, will be probably streamlined as far as the staff is concerned. And then also, we will tie a lot into it. We are also expecting that as the year goes by, we can assemble all the admin officers across the subsidiary here for a one or two days retreat so that we will be able to be on the same page as far as administrative duties are concerned. We also have in mind that some of the issues that have not purely or fully been resolved will be resolved in the course of the year. One of them, for example, is the allocation of vehicles to staff. We hope to be able to have a policy that will streamline it, make it system run or system operated and not based on any other parameter. Also all staff will be assured of what their duties and obligations are as far as welfare matters and operational vehicles for example are concerned, so these are some of the things we hope to put in place within the year.
Chrome Digest: Will the policy on vehicle allocation affect both junior and senior staff or is there a particular cadre of staff that will mostly benefit?
GAM: It depends on your level. These things will be in the expected manual I have mentioned earlier. We are articulating, for example, official vehicles and trying to see whether we can build into it loans for vehicles for all cadre of staffs which are some of the things we want to input into the system and once that is approved, it becomes a handbook guide to be operated. Therefore, official vehicles for staff depend on your cadre or level. Even the type of vehicle depends on your level and so on and so forth but beyond that, we also have what they call pull vehicles as available for staff depending again on the department you belong, I mean if you are a field officer for example, and there is a pick-up and driver available, a request could be made and then you are given the vehicle to use. It is an operational vehicle, which is separately treated and separately regarded in administration.
Chrome Digest: In the area of welfare which you mentioned earlier as part of the new policy your office intends to introduce this year, how do you hope to achieve an efficient welfare programme for all staff within the Chrome Group?
GAM: The admin office here will not do that in isolation. We are working in tandem with the HR department and so far so good, it will be attested to by every staff that welfare wise, we have not done badly. For example, you notice that last year, thirteenth month pay was paid to staff, a warm gesture which has not been done since the inception of this organization. These are part and one of the things we are putting in place and have achieved. We worked on this with the HR department and achieved remarkable success in it. Similar things were possible in other areas, for example, last year, apart from the thirteenth month pay; staffs were given Christmas gifts here and there depending on your grade. These things are innovations which were not there before and happened probably for the first time which we hope to continue as long as staffs are dutiful, well behaved, responsible and responsive to their duties. Management will also keep striving for a better condition of service so we hope, in addition to what I have mentioned, to even do more in the course of the year. Those things are gradual which of course is not easy. A lot of things that have not been there and which involve finance are not easy in the way we see them but we will keep pushing. Like I said, last year could probably be the best year for those who have been here and we hope even this year will be best better if there is anything like that.
Chrome Digest: Could you intimate us on the other on-going collaborations between your office and the office of the Human Resource Department?
GAM: Apart from those I have mentioned earlier, we are also working together in the area of staff discipline and appraisal to mention a few even though it is an HR thing. We are all inter-linked and so you will find us collaborating in putting all these things in place. We are doing very well, for example, you will find out that the appraisal system has been more or less instituted and last year reached its optimum. We hope going forward, the result will reflect on the staff in one way or the other the outcome of the appraisal. I wouldn’t go much into the details because there is a committee working on it but in all, these are some of the areas we are collaborating. In virtually all areas, the admin, HR and finance department are duty wise working together, flowing together and achieving a lot.
Chrome Digest: We understand that external assessors will be coming in soon for a Key Performance Improvement (KPI) programme. How rigid or soft will the assessment look like?
GAM: There is no question of rigidity or softness. The results are obviously there. The outcome will be determined by the results of the assessment. Nobody probably goes beyond that, I mean, if a staff is extremely very good, you don’t need to bring him down. If he has scored 80 or 90 per cent, assuming it is scored by percentage; one does not need to bring such staff down, so rigidity or softness does not apply. What we are saying is that it is not going to be a self-emotional assessment but system run. There is a parameter for all the assessments, unlike before where it appeared to have glitches. One does not need to go outside it, I mean if punctuality has 20 marks for example, there is a record for how early everybody comes, and it is verifiable. Whatever you have scored will be plus minus and so there will be no room for over doing or under doing. ***
Chrome Digest: In trying to create synergies between headquarters and the Group’s subsidiaries, what challenges have been faced and how does your office intend to surmount them?
GAM: Some of the challenges are numerous, for example, if you are dealing with Kaztec which is purely a technical or engineering outfit, administering them is quite different from administering them from the corporate office here which is probably more or else administration. Some of their demands and expectations are different which forms part of the challenges. If you deal with staff, for example, who work onshore and offshore, their expectations and requirements appear to be different from those who work otherwise so it depends. We have staffs within the Group who are more or less working in the clearing and forwarding department whose duties are different and calls for a different approach because they are working in a different industry. If you are working in the ports area, considered by some to be a republic, one cannot apply just any policy for them because the culture of the industry is different. If we apply the policies strictly as enunciated on staff working here, it may not work. So there is a rule to give them an understanding. If we control them the way we do it here, things may go wrong. This is where the management is expected to be flexible and accommodate the differences as they arise.
Chrome Digest: Let us view “Administration” from outside Chrome and its effect both in public and private sectors. How does overall political administration in Nigeria affect the way organizations emerge, the way they are run and sustained?
GAM: Of course the political situation in Nigeria, just like in any other country, has both direct and indirect effects on the way many cooperate organization are run. There is no doubt about that. Even the price of oil in itself, by and large, will toll on us and even much more because we play on Oil and Gas sector. Now the politics of it, how it is handled or mishandled also falls on us in one way or the other. Am giving that as example or if government declares public holiday, you can’t say its government public holiday, so you see that government policies affects every private organization in Nigeria. The independence they (private organizations) have appears to be limited because our economy is still government driven. So you see when the government is doing well or not, it affects the private sector, if the economy is buoyant or stretched, it affects the private sector so policies of government and private sector are interwoven. An example like the new policy on vehicle which will take off in April, will affect us because we buy from the same market. This means that there will be 70 percent increment in the cost of purchasing vehicle for staff here. This can also affect the quality of vehicle staff can have. For example, if three staff were to have Pajero, this will probably make them have Toyota Camry instead because of the cost, so government policy has a way of permeating into the running of private sector.
Chrome Digest: Talking about government policies, local content as a policy being championed by the Federal Government and many Nigerians have been a welcomed idea. In what ways do you think it will be advantageous to Nigerians?
GAM: It is one of the best things that have happened to Nigerian, in fact, if government were to pass the PIB in addition to Local Content I am sure we would have arrived as far as Oil and Gas industry is concerned. Even as we speak, we play in the industry and we have an ongoing project on Snake Island where a lot of Nigerians are being employed. You know government has a policy that forces organizations to give consideration to qualified Nigerians before looking abroad and this has increased employment for Nigerians. Millionaires are emerging from the availability of opportunities created by these policies which were not here before. So it’s a chain and it has a wonderful effect on the economy and employment.
Chrome Digest: On a lighter note, if you had the chance, what on-going policy of the government would you change?
GAM: What policy would I change? You know it’s a very wide question maybe I will narrow it down to what affects us here in Chrome.
Chrome Digest: Maybe policy on “Federal Character.”
GAM: Well that same policy of “Federal Character” have both merits and demerits depending on how you look at it. I mean it won’t be nice if you come here for example, because this is a company owned by an Igbo man, then you find everybody from messenger to top management an Igbo man as a policy of the company. It won’t tell well of the company. On the other hand, if you say look because you want to achieve a balance, then if you now see an Igbo man that is more qualified or experienced you drop him so that you can take another tribe just because you want to create a balance. So like I told you, it has both positive and negative sides depending on how each organization handles it. But the aim or intention is what you look at. I think the intention is to make sure there is a spread; you now have to apply it and manage it to the best of your ability.
Chrome Digest: On the mortgage plan that was discussed in the staff meeting last year, is there any new development on the matter?
GAM: The development is wonderful. In fact as of this morning they showed me signature list of virtually three quarters of the staff here who signed to say they want it. I have just asked them to go back and get a few more especially from the junior staff and once that is done, I think we are going ahead with it because from what was shown to me, the staffs want it. You see it is beneficial even if not for anything, it is a saving scheme for staff. Your money is there, by time you finish you also collect back your money. If it also comes to be that you get housing loan from it why not? So either way, the staff is in a win-win situation. So be assured that from what have come to me now, we are going ahead with it.
Chrome Group: What message will you give to Chrome staff members for the New Year?
GAM: I have already implied that we are doing very well. I have given you examples of the type of things we achieved last year. Those of you who are new may not know that this is the first time those things were done here. Am saying that much more are being worked on and if the economy of the country and the economy of the Group permit or allow, we will do even much more. I don’t want to raise any hope but staff can believe that we are working on some other things that will put smiles on their faces.