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Success of any company is built on a good team. And to build a good team, the role of a good HR manager is crucial. To build a good team, you should be able to bring together the right people and get them to stay, which is harder. In her interview Ms. Armine Ghazaryan, Head of HR Management Unit at Ameriabank, shares her vision of staff selection and motivation criteria.

Review: According to research conducted by Hi-Tech Group, for HR managers working in finance first comes staff recruiting and then – HR administration, while such activities as staff evaluation, motivation and structuring are less imperative. What is the situation in Ameria Group?

Certainly recruiting and administrative issues are time-consuming but never priorities. They are very important functions, but today’s HR management is first of all talent management not technical tasks. For us first and utmost is motivation of staff. Our strategy is built on a set of values and corporate culture and so it is these that we pay most attention to.
As for technical tasks such as recruiting and HR administration, we are gradually automating these processes to ensure more efficiency.

Review: How do you select staff? What are the key criteria?

«Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success». This quote characterizes our work best of all. We can be proud of our team uniting self-driven, bright progressive people and we ever set higher benchmarks.

We need active and creative bright personalities who are able to generate new ideas and implement them, who share our philosophy and values and who are ready to go ahead with us.

While selecting, testing and interviewing candidates we strive to get to know each one which is quite time-consuming but nevertheless very important for we equally value professional as well as personal qualities of each incumbent.
It is really important for us to bring together loyal people who are committed to a common idea and are ready to go ahead with us. We highly value it if an applicant has potential and is motivated, even if too young, has a vision of lasting and efficient work together.

Review: What is the role of staff training and development for you? Do you conduct qualification courses?

Staff development is very important. For us it is firstly the desire to go ahead. Leadership, global and strategic thinking, innovativeness, change management – these are the main skills which we greatly appreciate and develop in managers of all levels, enabling growth and development within the Group. Individual development and identification of talents are priorities for us. For this purpose we launched the Executive Education exclusive project where it was an unprecedented experience to partner Skolkovo School of Management, Moscow, and professor Pierre Casse, an excellent expert in leadership.

Certainly professional trainings and forums, both in Armenia and overseas, are important, too. In addition to the World Economic Forum, Russia Forum, trainings, etc. our staff for some years now have been participating in various international team projects, debates, online competitions, attending conferences in many countries, sharing knowledge and skills.

This year we plan to launch a corporate training center to open new doors for cooperation with world-class experts, training companies. All this will bring the professional training process to a qualitatively new level.

Adaptation of new team members is very important. During the first months they actively participate in various trainings and orientation seminars. We do our best to get them to understand what environment they are in, what our values are. We strive to communicate to them that here they will not have their efforts and potential wasted but used in the most efficient manner to become part of the team for achievement of a common goal. It is a requirement that each new employee should take an orientation training where people from all business units present our mission, philosophy, corporate culture and values.

Review: Please tell how you retain the staff. As part of motivation, do you offer social benefits?

Our fringe benefits package is designed to be very competitive: it includes health insurance, travel insurance, special rates for banking services, above-market salary and a unique bonus scheme which has no precedents in Armenia.
All this motivates our staff, but in my opinion the most important thing is the realization of being involved, the desire and ability to make a difference – for yourself, for the company, for the country. The core of all this is respect and trust. Human relationship is very important for us therefore we pay special attention to our values and corporate culture. We invest much time and efforts to support our common goal.
From the very first day, any new employee feels himself a full member of Ameria Group. Each employee knows his input counts.

We demonstrate individual approach to everyone irrespective of position or status, whether maintenance staff or head of department. Each has the opportunity to demonstrate his abilities, express his opinion and be heard.
Subordination is important, but the doors of our managers are always open for questions and new ideas.

We constantly initiate various projects and events and the employees always know that besides work they can get involved in other interesting activities.

We have a corporate events calendar and strive to make them as rich and exciting as possible. These are no mere outings but theme parties which are very much anticipated. We are for innovations at all levels of work and leisure.

Review: What career perspectives does Ameria Group offer?

Our team believes in future and we highly value the potential of our staff and strive to assist them in career. For us career growth is not only promotion but growth as a professional and personality. Whenever there is a vacancy we always circulate it among our staff before posting an announcement. We do everything for our leaders to grow. We have automated the staff performance evaluation system – 360 degrees and key performance indicators (KPI) – which enables us to use the Up or out approach, meaning that our employees should grow and develop as specialists or else we cannot go on together.

Review: What are the reasons for which an employee of the Group may be discharged? Please describe the parting process. Were there any cases when an employee left to join another company?
Indifference is the main reason for which we may discharge.
If a person is introvert, if he is not willing or able to grow or if he can’t stand our workload or does not share our priorities. If we see no progress in professional or personal qualities. Naturally, we give notice and time to re-consider his performance, assist where necessary, try to understand the reasons, but if it fails to help we part.

Given the competition in the market, we can’t help this. There were cases when our employees left to hold a higher position in another company. We are still proud to have had them among our colleagues. With many of our ex-employees we maintain good relationship and they might even attend our corporate events. It is very important for us to maintain good relationship with anyone who had his input in our common mission, we need mutual respect and so we are always maximally frank with our employees. We thoroughly analyze the reasons for leaving.
There were cases when an employee, having left for a certain reason, still received annual bonus for good performance. This, I think, is a unique experience for Armenia, and a proof of our respect towards employee and his work irrespective of the reason for leaving.

Review: As you said, the competition is intense and you can’t help a certain degree of staff turnover. Is there any statistics on the average monthly number of applications you receive? How many candidates for a vacancy do you usually have?

We receive about 1,500 resumes every month. During the last two months their number grew twofold and still continues to grow, so we have an average of 300-400 resumes per vacancy.

Review: Your company does not stand idle and constantly expands its geography. How do you select staff in such cases? Do you engage head-hunters?

We have experience in working overseas and we are open for cooperation. Among our teammates are representatives of different cultures and nationalities which is like a bit of fresh idea. We have also experience in hiring employees from abroad. Indeed we cooperate with several head-hunting companies and we don’t see any problems with it. Recently we have opened a representative office in LA, California, and hired a very good staff in cooperation with a head-hunting company. Time and distance are not problems for us.

Review: What are the features that enable you to position yourself as one of the best employers?

Trust and mutual respect are the surety of our success. We do not believe in miracles, we are realists. But we do dream and know that we can change many things. Once Ruben Vardanian (chairman of the Board of Directors of Ameriabank) said: ‘We are a team of like-minded people united by interest in life and common values’. I think he was able to introduce this approach in Armenia.
We know our strengths and weaknesses, for where there are strengths there are weaknesses, too, but we are adequate and open, we are working on our weaknesses to improve performance.
The most important thing is that we believe in the future and together with the Dream Team go ahead to make the impossible possible.

Updated 02.04.2014, 17:51
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