Barclays Bank: Roles of the Human Resource Management


According to Malik, human resource management is defined as the administrative activities associated with human resource planning. These activities are recruitment, selection, orientation, training, appraisal, motivation, and remuneration. HRM aims at developing people through work. It provides direction and guidelines for people who work in a certain organization (Batton & Jeffery, 2001, p.11). Human resource management gives direction to an organization and translates its needs into coherent and practical policies and programs (Malik, 2009, par.2). In this paper, we will look at the two main roles that human resource management plays. These are recruitment and selection, and performance management. In an attempt at further exploring how these two roles are executed, the paper shall examine Barclays Bank as a case study.

Recruitment and Selection

Selection is the combination of processes in the choice of one or more candidates for a job or role (Edenborough, 2007, p.2; Kubr, 2002, p.388). It is one of the processes that any firm engages in (Pratt & Bennet, 1989, p.116; Grobler & Surette, 2005, p.183). Recruitment is a process by which applicants are attracted to a specific job in a company (Kubr, 2002, p.387). Recruitment can be internal or external depending on the nature of the job (Jones & Jennifer, 2004, p. 347; Paynes, 2004, p.169).

Internal recruitment occurs where an organization wishes to promote some of its employees for higher posts such as managerial positions. At Barclays bank, the human resource department engages in the selection process so that it can match people to the work at hand.

Matching is the best way to effectively optimize human resources (Dresner, 2010, p.3; Kramar, 1999, p29). It is necessary to assess the people you employ beyond the skills for the specific job that you employ them for to discover their potential as well as the various positions they are best suited for (Dresner, p. 3).

In the selection and recruitment process, we have crucial steps that must be followed to realize the best results. These steps include an analysis of the role, personal specifications, identifying of the labor market, the attraction of candidates, screening of the applications, assessing the candidates, decision making, checking of references, offering of the job, and induction (Dresner, 2010, p.5; Armstrong, 2006, p.409; Kramar, 1999, p.29). Barclays bank follows all these steps so that it can recruit and retain the best people who are good in financial services.

In the selection process, there are key elements that are involved in analyzing the role that is about to be occupied by an employee. These elements are clear and precise specifications, and effective application of multiple techniques, eliminating redundant processes, and continuous improvement and evaluation. In the selection process, role analysis helps the panelists to devise a way that will describe what a job constitutes in a systematic manner (Cardy, 2004, p.8).

Barclays bank stipulates all the specifications of a given job description for purposes of effective and efficient services to its customers and to get the best person(s) for the job at hand. This is specifically stated in the advertisements and the expectations of the employee to be are stipulated about a particular job. Secondly, there is the process of personal specification. This involves matching a candidate with the specifics of a given job. This requires looking for the best person who will fit the described profile of such a job. Proper scrutiny of a job helps the suitable candidate to have a sound assessment of the job and as a result, there are added benefits to be realized.

The search for the best person for the job at hand involves several steps to ensure that the best decision is reached. This is the stage at which the human resource department evaluates the flexibility and adaptability of the candidate on the chance that the job may become dynamic in the future. The competencies of such candidates in terms of knowledge, skills, experience, and values about the performance of the job at hand are also examined at length. It is important to consider the competencies that will provide potential performance evidence (Armstrong, 2006, p.409).

Thirdly, an organization needs to play the role of a seller if at all it is to attract the most suitable candidate for a vacant post. In this case, an organization requires employing various forms of advertising for a vacant position. The goal is to portray a positive image in the eyes of the target candidates. This requires communicating key messages in well-coordinated and continuous campaigns that are also cost-effective(Dresner, 2010, p. 7; Armstrong, 2006, p. 416).

This forms the most ideal way through which people get to know of a vacant position, in effect prompting them to offer their applications. There must be a sufficient number of qualified candidates that a firm targets if at all the whole process of employees recruitment to become meaningful. Cost-effective processing of unsuitable applications is also important. At the same time, it is also important to take into account the fact that the qualified candidates are to be informed of the outcome of the recruitment exercise effectively. The idea behind this is that an organization would wish to maintain a positive perception in the eyes of the public (Dresner, 2010, p.8).

In many cases, Barclays uses print media (mainly the newspaper) to advertise for a vacant position within the organization that requires to be filled. Most of these newspaper advertisements carry a clause on the contact person that potential candidates can reach once the exercise has been concluded. This reduces the cost of having to communicate with all the applicants. The most used clause is one in which only the shortlisted applicants are contacted for interviews.

There is also the need to examine the response process of candidates regarding possible recruitment for a job. This process is based on an application form or the Curricula Vitae. The use of application forms a standardized response on which a big number of candidates will be assessed. The design of these forms requires that certain specific information be included in the forms which will be used in screening and assessing the candidates (Armstrong, 2006, p.425).

The bank stipulates the advertisements procedures and the specific documents that are supposed to be attached to the application letter for consideration. If there are forms to be collected or downloaded from its website the bank guides the prospective candidates on how to go about the process.

Fifth, there is subjective screening. Selectors need to be provided with clear ideas of competencies to focus on if at all they are to improve the quality and consistency of the screening processes (Dresner, 2010, p.10; Pulakos, 2009, p.15). After the screening processes, selection methods vary more widely between organizations and between the kinds of recruitments. Professionals are used to screening the applications at Barclays so that the best of the applicants can be shortlisted. This helps in minimizing the costs relating to interviews and saving time by limiting the number of applicants.

An interview follows a successful screening process. It is the most common selection technique used (Jones and Jennifer, 2004, p.347). They may be structured or unstructured. In the unstructured interview, the interviewers use their judgments based on the performance of the candidate to decide whether the candidate fits the role. Though commonly used, it is, however, not as effective as a structured interview. Structured interviews are carefully designed to obtain specific information from the candidates.

The answers are scored against a consistent scoring range. Evidence of relevant ability(s) is then assessed from the answers. The scores are the basis for judgment. Unstructured interviews, in most cases, are the ones that Barclays use as they are quite fast to scrutinize and form a sound decision on who qualifies for the job and who does not. This is more so when the bank wants to recruit from external sources.

Following an interview, candidates are subjected to certain tests, a trend that is gaining popularity (Grobler & Surette, 2005, p.189). In this case, use is made of the Aptitude to assess the personalities and ability of the would-be employees. Ability tests are used to examine an individual’s vocabulary, numeracy, speed and accuracy, and awareness. The higher the score the higher the ability that person will have in that job. Personality tests deal in measuring personal characteristics, values, and attitudes which shapes the beliefs and behavior of a person. These tests are the benchmarks or norms relative to the job in terms of performance (Dresner, 2010, p12; Jones and Jennifer, 2004, p.348).

Aptitude tests are familiar to most applicants, though they vary from one firm to another. In Barclays, they are used to limit the number of successful applicants. For junior positions, they test on basic intelligence quotient on the fastness and of a person to think and reason. For the more advanced jobs like the managerial post, more technical tests are used.

Exercises are then given to the candidates to be sure that they can be able to perform the job satisfactorily. These are realistic exercises that can be observed and evaluated. This encourages true behavior from the candidates, is cost-effective, and measures those aspects which are causally related to job performance. These exercises may be individual or in groups where the candidates are given jobs and are assessed in terms of their prioritization and performance.

Checks and offers are the other steps. Here the candidates’ information is counterchecked for authenticity. References are used to know the person better (Jones and Jennifer, 2004, p.349). References are generally useful where the request is framed around specific questions. Offers of employment may be conditional, which have a pre-condition like completion of probation or receipt of qualification documents, or it can be unconditional (Dresner, 2010, p.15).

Offers need to be clear and explicit. There is a legal requirement for a statement of the main terms and the conditions to be provided within the two months of taking the job. The terms should not discriminate people based on gender, race etcetera (Dresner, 2010, p.16). Before Barclays bank can give an applicant a job, this step is necessary. The use of their curricula vitae to seek information about the credibility of a person, from his/ her referees is vital.

Performance Management

Performance management is an integrated and specific process that aims at delivering sustained success to organizations. This is through the improvement of people’s performance working in the organization and developing their capabilities either individually or as groups (Armstrong, 2000, p.1). It is strategic in that it concentrates on the broad terms that affect the business for its performance in its environment. Performance management should consider both the behavior and outputs needs of a firm. This is because it covers competence levels and achievements as well as objective-setting and review (Armstrong, 2000, p.4; Kaplan and David, 2001, p.6). It involves the continuing review of performance against knowledge, skill and capability, performance improvement, and personal development plans (Armstrong, 2000, p.4).

Performance management is also defined as a communication that is continuous between the employee and the supervisor and it involves the establishment of clear understanding and expectations on the functions of the employee, his/ her contribution, good performance of his/ her job, and how to improve on performance (Bacal, 1999, p.3). Effective management requires a good understanding of the performance domain (Cardy, 2004, p.7). Duty areas and tasks that are part of the job must be well known for easier assessment of performance improvement. It is the most difficult task as it entails managing the human capital in an organization (Pulakos, 2009, p3).

The purpose of performance management is to get better and improved results from the organization, teams, and individuals in the organization. This is by understanding and managing its performance within a framework of planned goals, standards, and competence requirements (Armstrong, 2000, p.6). Performance is all about the achievement of the results that are required (Carter and Frank, 2005, p.19). The main objective of performance management is to optimize the employees’ contribution to the organization to the achievement of its goals (Franke, 2004, p.10; Pope, 2005, p.7).

Performance management has its principles. Some of these principles can be summarized as:

  • Translating corporate goals into individual, team, department, and divisional goals
  • Clarification of corporate goals
  • An ongoing process in which performance grows over time
  • Consensus building and co-operation
  • creation of a common understanding of what is required to improve performance and its achievement
  • Encouraging self-management of individual performance
  • Open and honest communication that is two way
  • Continuous feedback
  • Respect for the individual.
  • Procedural fairness. People are treated with fairness in the procedures of management to limit adverse effects.
  • Transparency. The employees have the opportunity to scrutinize the decisions made (Armstrong, 2000, p.6).

performance management is all about integration which comprises vertical and horizontal integration (Armstrong & Angela, 2005, p.2). Vertical integration facilitates the alignment of business strategic goals and the individuals or teams in achieving corporate goals (Armstrong, 2000, p.8). The objectives flow from the top management to the bottom, defined at each level in terms of higher-level goals. It can also be from bottom to top where the employees are allowed to formulate their own goals and then communicate them to the top management.

Secondly, horizontal management is where communication is at the same level; for example, it could involve the management of the same department or in a team, where the members formulate their own goals and act on them (Armstrong, 2000, p.8). The formal communication that Barclays engages in includes both vertical and horizontal communications. Managers communicate goals to the employees through vertical communication. In departments, decisions are arrived at through the use of horizontal communications, and in top-level management.

It is important to also note that there are several changes that the performance management team has to achieve. They result from the reluctance of the managers and employees. They feel intimidated or they distrust the process. Firstly, on manager reluctance, the manager may feel that the forms and procedures do not make sense. The sets of forms that many companies insist to be used may not fit all situations. Again, the manager may say that there is no time, due to the misunderstanding they may have on the advantages of performance management. When the managers take time to manage performance they give their employees clear information as to what is expected and at the end of the day, they save the company time and unnecessary costs, since they know their roles well.

To avoid confrontation the managers should design the performance management in a way that implies help to employees rather than blame, encouraging them to evaluate themselves, portray performance management as a joint activity rather than a one authority situation, lean on the accomplishment side rather than failures to motivate the employees, and where possible the problems should be identified earlier to save confrontations in future.

Lastly the challenge on feedbacks and observation, the manager should devise a plan such that he/ she should not be watching all the time or have answered all the time. The resource manager and all the staff members should work together to find solutions all the time (Bacal, 1999, p.13-16). A daily report on the performance of employees which has to be filed is one of the challenges that the managers in human resources face in Barclays. Daily work schedules are supposed to be maintained which is a tedious and time-consuming exercise.

Secondly, on employee reluctance, many employees feel that the experience they have had with performance management is the best. No employee likes to be criticized as it lowers their motivation. This makes them uncomfortable. The fear of not knowing what to expect will make them defensive and as a result, the cooperation they give is very poor. Good relations with the employees will help solve these problems and make performance management easier for the employees and managers too (Bacal, 1999, p.17). In Barclays, the employees may feel threatened because the competition is high and the fact that demands are sometimes too high. This may make them feel uncomfortable. The kind interaction between them and their superiors, however, reduces this threat as they are involved in assessments too.

Teamwork is the key to success in having good performance management. Both the employees and the management should work hand in hand to ensure the success of the company. Firstly, a good manager will know the best way to make performance management work. This will help the manager in making sound decisions on performance management. Knowing what is important to the employees and what will make them work will increase their cooperation, hence productivity will go up. The managers, also, need to have a way of documenting problems that are related to performance. This will help employees to improve and the manager can account for the disciplinary actions taken to employees in extreme cases (Bacal, 1999, p. 20).

Secondly, employee(s) will have to know what is expected of them, have regular and specific feedback on their performances so that they can improve themselves and be more productive. They also need to know how they fit with others in the organization, define their roles because they know themselves better, and know their levels of authority for easier decision-making (Bacal, 1999, p. 20). Good communication in Barclays bank makes performance management easy in Barclays as the managers and the employees know what is expected of them at all times.


Human resource management is a department that deals with the equipping of a business/ firm with the necessary personnel and managing the personnel for best results. Selection and recruitment require that the management follow specific processes to get the best of the best and retain them in the business. This is essential to remain competitive at all times. Performance should also be managed and evaluated at all times so that the employees may be developed to suit the expectations of an organization and to deliver competently, thus increasing the productivity of an organization both in terms of production and finance. Barclays bank has portrayed the role of human resource management and thus it has a highly experienced workforce and its productivity is high. This makes it competitive on a global level.

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