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Gcobisa Ntshona | Chief People Officer | African Bank Group

Gcobisa Ntshona: Fostering an Employee-Centric High-Performance Culture

Driving a Cultural Revolution through HR Leadership

In the dynamic realm of contemporary workplaces, employees face various challenges that influence their job satisfaction, productivity, and overall welfare. Addressing these matters requires thoughtful and strategic solutions to foster an environment where employees can flourish. In today’s business landscape, work dynamics are shifting, and consequently, so are workforce expectations. Organizations are continually working towards retaining their most valuable talents.

HR leaders serve as the designers of a company’s people-centric strategy, forming the foundation of a well-operating organization. These strategies have a far-reaching influence on various aspects, including talent acquisition, development, performance, and engagement, ultimately cultivating a motivated and proficient workforce. Furthermore, HR strategies play a pivotal role in upholding legal compliance, minimizing risks, and optimizing HR operations through technology. When integrated effectively, these strategies empower organizations to function seamlessly and productively, thereby promoting employee contentment and facilitating the attainment of overarching business objectives.

While discovering the prominent names in the field of HR Leadership, we came across African Bank Group Chief People Officer – Gcobisa Ntshona, a luminary in the field of HR whose dedication and visionary leadership has left an indelible mark on the sector. Gcobisa Ntshona is at the forefront of a cultural revolution that not only respects and integrates business values into the organizational fabric but also ensures an inclusive and cohesive work environment.

It’s this kind of leadership that has played an instrumental role in African Bank’s consistent recognition, solidifying its position as a top employer three years in a row and being named Top Empowered Company for Enterprise and Supplier Development.

Gcobisa Ntshona plays a crucial role at African Bank, where she leads the Human Capital function with a specific focus on shaping the Human Capital Strategy, delivering strategic Human Capital guidance, and fostering an employee-centric high-performance culture aligned with the Bank’s strategic objectives.

Upholding Cultural Stewardship

In her capacity, she is responsible for the oversight of all human resources people practices, which encompass culture performance, PPI development, talent acquisition, development, and the cultivation of employee engagement. Gcobisa places a high priority on upholding cultural stewardship within the organization as an integral component of the leadership compact and the ongoing culture journey.

This not only means respecting and integrating business values, beliefs, and traditions into our organizational framework but also creating an inclusive and cohesive work environment. In addition, my role is to assist in fostering an environment that not only encourages diversity but also boosts employee morale and overall productivity, said Gcobisa.

Another key part of her role is to assist in developing programs and initiatives that help retain staff and build top talent, as individuals are naturally drawn to organizations that embrace diverse cultural perspectives.

Empowering Employees

Gcobisa’s vision for HR in shaping the workplace of the future is centered around agility, innovation, and inclusivity. She aims to foster an environment where employees feel empowered to adapt to change and bring new ideas to the table and where diversity and inclusion are core values. This vision aligns with African Bank’s strategic objectives by ensuring it has the right talent and culture to navigate evolving financial landscapes and deliver innovative solutions to its customers.

African Bank has concluded a significant transformation milestone by merging three Banks into one, and as a result, it has commenced on a culture and leadership journey that ensures its vision of embedding a steward leadership “DNA” into the Bank will not stop with its leaders but extends to all African Bankers.

Recognizing Collective Values

In alignment with her role, the bank has initiated the Reinspired Values campaign aimed at recognizing and commemorating its collective values. This campaign serves as the foundation, underscoring the importance of having the right colleagues and the necessity to conduct work in a manner consistent with these values. It also highlights the imperative for leaders to demonstrate alignment with the organization’s leadership compact.

The leaders and African bankers have raised their #AudaciousVoices, eloquently explaining their interpretations of the organization’s ideals. The Reinspired Values campaign acts as a forerunner to the #MovementMaker culture activation, promoting the idea that these values are essential for organizational leadership. They have a significant impact on work techniques and how services are delivered.

Fostering Cross-Functional Collaboration

The organization maintains its agility through a proactive approach involving the regular monitoring of industry trends and the conduct of skills assessments. This ensures a continuous alignment with best practices and methods recognized as the industry standard. There is also a strong emphasis on fostering cross-functional collaboration to tackle emerging challenges and discover avenues for growth.

Furthermore, significant investments are made in employee development to equip the team with the requisite skills for success within the dynamic business landscape. Throughout these  efforts, the organization remains committed to linking milestones to its overarching strategic direction, as firmly rooted in its Excelerate25 strategy.

Employee development is a top priority at African Bank. It provides ongoing training, mentorship, and grooming futures leaders today. The bank encourages employees to set personal development goals and provides opportunities for them to apply new skills through challenging projects, ensuring a culture of continuous learning and growth. It has commenced its journey to becoming a high-impact learning organization, and this entails a robust offering around learning interventions offered through various platforms.

The organization has implemented diversity and inclusion training, established diversity-focused hiring practices, and created Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to foster a sense of belonging. This has led to a more diverse workforce, enriched perspectives, and improved innovation and problem-solving capabilities, positively impacting their overall performance.

Prioritizing Employee Engagement

The organization has initiated a progressive journey towards the integration of advanced HR technology across various functions such as recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and employee engagement. This strategic move is anticipated to yield several benefits, including heightened efficiency, improved employee experiences, and the ability to make data-driven decisions for enhanced talent management, development, and overall business processes.

Additionally, the organization has embraced flexible working practices that afford employees the freedom to work both remotely and in-office. This approach is complemented by tools designed to facilitate in-person meetings and encourage team collaboration. However, a crucial aspect of this initiative involves the continuous refinement and widespread adoption of the Bank’s new digital work methods. Leveraging cross-functional teams and collaboration is pivotal in ensuring that employees consistently maintain high levels of productivity.

Amalgamating HR Strategies with Business Objectives

Gcobisa Ntshona collaborates closely with the executive leadership team through regular engagements, meetings, and strategic discussions. She aligns HR strategies with business objectives by ensuring that the company’s talent strategy supports the company’s growth plans, and she continuously evaluates and adjusts the HR initiatives based on the company’s evolving needs.

An essential component of the company’s people-focused agenda centers around its concerted efforts to promote and enhance the organizational culture in conjunction with its leadership compact. The company also places a significant emphasis on refining its employee value proposition as a core element of this agenda.

To promote effective communication and collaboration in a hybrid work environment, the company utilizes digital collaboration tools, conducts regular virtual team meetings, and encourages open and transparent communication. Gcobisa Ntshona, along with the help of the company, has also implemented training programs to help employees adapt to this new work paradigm successfully.

Key to this has been modeling the required leadership behavior as well as balancing lessons learned during COVID around hybrid setups. Gcobisa Ntshona gives valuable advice to aspiring HR professionals. She says, “I would advise aspiring HR professionals to prioritize empathy, adaptability, and continuous learning. HR is about understanding people’s needs and evolving the changing business landscape. Be open to new ideas, leverage technology, and always seek opportunities to enhance the employee experience, as this will ultimately drive organizational success. Seek to constantly align HR strategies and plans to business strategies. Lastly, do not see yourself as only a Human Resources professional but a business leader tasked with making an impact.