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‘Technology, a key driver in organisational effectiveness’

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Udom Uko Inoyo

Udom Inoyo is the President, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM). In this interview, he spoke on how to drive organisational effectiveness, while reeling off the institute’s achievement in recent times as captured by Benjamin Alade. Excerpts:

As a professional body, how would you assess the role of the Institute in the socio-economic development of the country as a whole?
It is important to note that CIPM is the foremost Human Resource body and the apex regulatory body for the practice of Human Resource Management in Nigeria and therefore has a lot of role to play in people management in both public and private sectors.

The economy which is driven by the activities of the public and private sectors requires a level of human resource management for growth. Even with the evolution of technology – Artificial Intelligence and robotics, no nation or organization can make progress without people.

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So our role is to ensure that Human Resource management is practiced in a way that guarantees organizational effectiveness by providing standards, guidance and education to the Government, Employers of labour and the Workforce. One of such recent activities was our active participation and contribution to the Minimum wage discourse.

In addition, the Institute is a member of the National Employment Council (NEC), Quarterly Business Forum (QBF) of the Office of the Vice President, and Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage. All these are avenues/platforms through which the Institute has contributed to the socio-economic development of the country

Many people have argued that Nigeria’s current travail is largely fueled by the failure of Leadership. Do you agree with this position? How best can we address this problem for Nigeria to realize its full potentials?
I believe leadership is very key to the growth and development of any nation, society, association or organization.

However, as a nation, there are a number of fundamental issues, often clothed in cultural, religious and ethnic gears that keep clouding our development.

Until we all can move ahead from these issues that have plagued our Country for such a long time, nothing will work.

Personally, I remain an advocate of inclusion and diversity, but such should not be at the detriment of meritocracy. There is no part of this country that does not have top-notch professionals, so why do we keep fumbling with those that cannot make the cut? Overall, it involves active participation from everyone by being the change we want to see.

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There is a dearth of professional competence in both private and public sectors generally. Is the Institute getting support from both public and private organizations to facilitate trainings?

You would agree with me that the importance of trainings cannot be over emphasized if employees must attain the level of professional competence required in both sectors of the economy.

The Institute has added to its bouquet of training programmes to deliver meaningful and insightful learning and practical experiences for both members and non-members. So far, we have gotten some level of support from both sectors.

However, more can be done as training is an important part of an employee’s development which the employer must take responsibility for.

Public sector in Nigeria is still confronted with the dearth of capacity, to what extent has the Institute helped in changing the trend?
In the past two years, one notable area of focus of the Institute, under my leadership has been to elevate the level of professionalism and develop capacity in the public service.

As we all know, the government is the highest employer of labour in Nigeria, hence, the need to entrench best practices in this sector, with the aim of achieving national development. We have done a lot of work in supporting capacity development in the Public Sector by training civil servants in the Admin and HR Cadre of Lagos, Ekiti and Oyo States.

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Just last week, we paid a courtesy visit to Akwa Ibom state Governor, His Excellency, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel to explore avenues for collaboration in enhancing capacity development in the State’s Civil Service and the response was very positive. We have already commenced work with the Local Government Service Commission.

This is a gradual process as there are plans to replicate same in other states across the Federation. But I must also personally thank the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita for the work she and her team are doing with the Civil Service Strategic plan.

Globally, technology is playing a significant role in HR. How has CIPM embraced the use of technology being the Apex regulatory body setting the pace for the profession?
Technology is a key driver in organizational effectiveness. Every 21st century company embraces this and this is what CIPM is doing as we continue to explore best possible ways to leverage on technology to improve our value delivery and engagements.

One of such initiatives is the Human Resource Practitioners’ License (HRPL) renewal process in which we introduced the Computer Based Competency Assessment Test where members with expired license get tested on their currency and competency in HR practice.

Two assessments were conducted during the year with several members successfully renewing their license. If your organization truly values its people, then you do not need a quack to manage them.

The introduction of virtual meetings, monthly webinars, e-learning are all technology driven platforms aimed at increasing participation at all levels.

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Also, there has been remarkable improvement in our examination process with webinar sessions facilitated by Subject Matter Experts helping to address and guide students on how to approach questions.

Very recently, for the first time, we had an Online Election Debate where candidates shared their manifestos and answered questions from members who were connected from all over the world.

Of course, our social media platforms are there and are very active; we get to share information with our members and the general public. We are on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You know people issues are very fluid, and that is not peculiar to Nigeria.

New laws and workplace issues are emerging faster than it used to be and policies or programs of last year may not be suitable to address these challenges, especially in a complex and business challenging environment such as this.

Our members must therefore stay updated if they want to offer sound advice and provide the required strategic support to their organizations and technology plays a major role.

In recent times, many organizations have been complaining that Nigerian graduates are unemployable, do you agree with this position? If yes, what do you think can be done to salvage the situation in the interest of national development?
I particularly like this question and I am glad you asked because the Institute also recognized the challenge in the educational sector and the resulting mismatch between its products and the needs of the industries and has taken practical steps to address it with the launch of our Internship Programme in October, 2018, called ‘Ready to Market’. T

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he program is designed to provide opportunities for fresh graduates to gain practical industry experience which would expose them to all aspects of HR and enhance their competence level, thereby making them ready for the labour market.

The scheme, which is currently open to only inducted members of CIPM, exposes the candidates to intensive hands-on competency based experiential learning of six (6) months.

The first set of interns would be rounding up in June 2019, after which the next batch would be enrolled in various organizations for another six months.

It is our hope that other professional bodies would follow suit so we can address the un-employability challenge, one profession at a time.

So, in a nutshell, there are systemic failures that must be addressed, starting from the school curriculum and mode of teaching, to the mind-set of students and their approach to issues, and involvement of all stakeholders in the pursuit of the common good. I must emphasize the importance of family values as the bedrock for our students and indeed the society.

You have piloted the affairs of the Institute for two years now, what would you consider the greatest achievement of the Institute while you held sway?
As an Institute, we have recorded quite a number of laudable achievements in the past two years and I say this with all sense of humility. What I would consider as the most significant for me was the celebration of our Golden Jubilee Anniversary. It was quite elating being the President at the time when CIPM was celebrating its fifth decades of existence.

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The celebration was a series of events that culminated in the Annual National Conference in November 2018 which was also our 50th edition. We were privileged to, for the very first time, have the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON attend and deliver the keynote address. Interestingly, over 40 per cent of the attendees at the Conference were from the Public Sector.

At the 2017 Annual National Conference, we provided an opportunity for the Minister of Budget and Planning to engage with over 2,000 conference attendees by presenting a paper on the Economic Recovery and Growth plan (ERGP) of the Country and also the Head of Service of the Federation presented a paper on the Civil Service strategic plan 2017-2020.

This level of government/public sector participation at our conferences goes on to show that all our efforts to enhance the level of professionalism in the Public Sector, which is the largest employer of labour, is yielding positive results. But most importantly, it was a deliberate reminder that no matter how well thought-out a plan may be, if the people are disconnected, not much progress would be made.

Additionally, we are now more involved with defining standards for the practice of Human Resource Management. We are part of the technical committees defining ISO TC260 standards.

Four (4) of those standards were gazetted in Nigeria in 2018, and we launched them at the 50th Annual National Conference of the Institute. There will be further engagement between the Institute and different stakeholders on the application of these standards.

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With the increased level of government/public sector participation, the Institute has gained more visibility at Federal level and now participates in various Federal Committees providing strategic input on topical issues of national significance. But there is still some work to be done so we cannot rest on our oars.

Your leadership reign at CIPM has ended, would you say you were satisfied with the level of successes recorded for the Institute during your tenure?
Looking back at the last two years during which I was President of the Institute; I would say that my tenure has been nothing short of interesting. I may also add, somewhat challenging. When I say challenging, I am not talking about the job being difficult but the realization that we all do not need to hold positions in government to make a difference. And this is especially for those of us who have been opportune to acquire broad experiences across the globe courtesy of where we work.

Our engagement at various levels – community, faith-based organizations, professional organizations, etc., will go a long way in moving the dial in a positive direction for the sake of our fatherland.

At this point, just like my predecessors, I can say that the CIPM structure remains well designed and organized to aid professional progress and growth.

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I commenced my tenure with my topmost three (3) priority areas:
1. To strengthen internal and external stakeholders’ engagement;

2. To strengthen the existing state branches, ensuring membership growth and participation and creating a national outlook for the Institute; 3. To make CIPM more attractive to ALL Human Resource practitioners.

Together with the rest of the leadership team, Governing Council, our ever-dependable volunteers, and staff of the Institute, I was able to make notable achievements in these areas which come as a success point for me.

As someone who has been involved in managing people and as the current Executive Vice-Chairman of the Board of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL) what do you think should be done to ensure that workforce perform at optimal level?

Organizations have different approaches to workforce performance optimization but I believe this can primarily be achieved first, through Leadership commitment, and HR engagement in driving organizational effectiveness.

Leaders must set the right tone in creating a culture that promotes and rewards performance but it is a dynamic HR organization that would steward the processes to enable employees to meet their full potential.

Let me also say that employees are critical stakeholder who also have a role to play. Ignore HR and watch your organizational productivity plummet.


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