United Bank For Africa Plc Motivational Tools And Techniques


It is significant for the manager to be aware of individual conduct in the place of work to succeed (Anon, 2008). Managers are confronted with how to get people to perform excellently well on their job in all situations (Nohria et al, 2003).What motivate people at work can not be presumed by managers (Morse, 2003). Managers should be able to influence what motivate their employee with the objective of making employees to see their goals with the goals of the organisation (Milne, 2007). Individuals needs and expectation varies and it keeps changing, moreover the workplace comprises of employees with various social values and different individual orientation. According to Mckenne (cited in Anon, 2008:281) managing motivation of employee is like manipulating and controlling the employees. Motivating employee is vital in achieving greater productivity and efficiency.

This paper work considers the motivational tools and techniques used in my current place of work United Bank for Africa Plc Nigeria to motivate its employees. It describes how each of the techniques fit to the various motivational theories.

Beginning with an overview of United Bank for Africa Plc, analysing how effective these tools and techniques are in motivating and supporting the employees of the bank to achieve superior performance and finally suggesting possible recommendations for improvement.


United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) is one of the leading full financial services institution in West Africa that offer universal banking and it’s quoted on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (United Bank For Africa Plc, 2009). The Head office of the Bank is located at 57, Marina, Lagos Nigeria.

UBA was integrated in 1961 after Nigeria gained independence from Britain. The bank took over business from the British and French Bank Limited (BFB) which started business in Nigeria in 1948. (United Bank for Africa Plc, n.d)

In year 2005 there was a merger between the old UBA and Standard Trust Bank, and there after there was acquisition of Continental Trust Bank. The consolidated UBA was the first successful merger in the history of Nigeria Banking Industry (United Bank for Africa Plc, n.d)

UBA has 711 branches and retail outlets in Nigeria and 15 other African countries, France, United State of America and United Kingdom. The bank currently has over 13,000 staff globally (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2009)

As at December 2009, UBA Plc has over 7.2 million customers. The bank offers other financial services such as Pension custody, wealth management, life insurance, investment banking and stock-broking, through its subsidiaries company (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2009).


Motivation is an inner force that steer people’s action and behaviour towards attainment of individual or organisational goals. Motivation can be viewed as the fulfilment of specific needs and expectation (Analoui ,1999).

Modern authors explain motivation as: a series of action relating to the mind that delivers in exchange conduct (Linder, 1998); determination and guidance of action, a susceptibility to act in a particular manner to accomplish definite unfulfilled needs (Linder, 1998).

There are mainly two different categories to motivational theories, these are; content theories of motivation and process theories of motivation. Content theories of motivation explain that people are motivated by natural inner forces which come from intrinsic and psychological factor (Anon, 2008:141). These theories believe that people have related set of needs and also suggested the features that should be present in Jobs (Fincham & Rhodes, 1999).

Process theories explain how people behaviour is instigated, directed and retained. These theories emphasize the variation in individual needs and demonstrate how motivational differences are formed through the means by which individual process information about them self (Fincham & Rhodes, 1999; Anon, 2008). Beliefs, expectations, values and mental cognition determines how people behave (Anon, 2008:144).

The following motivational tools and techniques are used in United Bank for Africa Plc to motivate its staff:

Employee recognition and Award: UBA Plc operates various recognition programmes that recognize both individual and group accomplishments.

CEO Award ceremony programme is conducted on annual basis. UBA’s top and most excellent staff in different categories are celebrated. One of the main award categories is the UBA leadership Award which get to recognize outstanding leaders who demonstrate “service leadership” i.e leaders who walk the talk (United Bank for Africa plc[Intranet]n.d)

Long service award are given to employees for their invaluable contributions over the year. Gift awards and certificates are given to qualified staff during the Annual CEO Award ceremony (United Bank for Africa plc [Intranet]n.d).

Periodically, staff are requested at the branch level to select and vote for staff that they have identified as best front service staff and have served in roles that are significant to excellent service delivery. Cash Award is given to the winner.

Commendation letters are issued to staff by Human capital management for outstanding performance covering various areas such as; Effective Relationship Management, Cost saving from fraud prevention, Effective discharge of internal control functions, and demonstration of mastery of cash card issues, Deposit mobilization and Budget Achievement. Commendation letter also attracts 5 marks to performance appraisal score of staff (United Bank for Africa plc [Intranet]n.d)

Further more, The Deputy managing Director identifies and recognizes Business managers that have achieved 70% to 100% of their monthly budget at the end of every month during the Monthly profitability review meeting.

Every staff is enjoined to forward ideas/initiatives to the idea generation box. Every idea submitted to the box is reviewed; those found appropriate are further presented to executive management committee for approval and subsequent implementation. Staff that initiated the implemented ideas are recognized and issued commendation letter (United Bank for Africa plc [Intranet]n.d)

Performance incentive Pay (PIP): The performance incentive pay was introduced in 2008 as a tool to motivate staff in achieving their specified goals and target, also to enhance employee’s morale and increase productivity of both sales and non sales staff. The incentive pay is a fixed percentage of employee pay (United Bank for Africa Plc, n.d ). Employees performance is measured along with the key performance indicator (KPI) and constantly monitored through the performance monitoring system named “INFOPOOL”( United Bank for Africa Plc, n.d). Info pool gives feed back on employee’s performance on a weekly basis. For instance every week the Business manager who is the head of the branch get an email report on branch performance for the week in area of deposit base, income generated and achieved profit against the branch budget and target for the month.

Staff are appraised at the end of every quarter based on individual key performance indicator. Staff that meets between 80% to 100% of their performance goals earn the full payment of the performance incentive pay, those that score between 70% to 89% earn only 80% of the performance incentive pay, while those that score below 70% earn nothing.

Employee training and development: UBA is dedicated to the growth and development of its employees and constantly expose them to various forums of learning and development. Both in house and external training are conducted for staff”( United Bank for Africa Plc, 2010).

Coaching programme The Bank adopts a coaching programme which is to provide on the job training for employees that are not performing well on their job. A teacher-student relationship is developed between the non-performing employees and their first level supervisor. The coach and the coachee are to draw up a coaching plan which is expected to identify and tackle major proficiency gaps that are currently hindering performance”( United Bank for Africa Plc, 2010)

The expected outcome of the programme is to see remarkable improvement in the coaches performance, such that it will positively reflect on the overall business area performance (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2010)

Staff share investment trust: The staff share investment trust scheme offer staff of the Bank the opportunity to share in the growing fortune of the bank through highly subsidized loan to purchase UBA shares. The scheme opens dealing window on the last day of September, December, March and June. On these dates, the trust will buy and sell additional UBA shares to staff at the average market prices. At any window staff can sell the portion of their allotment that has vested on them or buy additional shares to their existing shares.

Most Valuable Performer (MVP) programme: The Most Valuable Performers are employees that add massive value and maximum impact on the bank bottom line (United Bank for Africa, 2009). They are the top 3% employees selected from the annual employee’s appraisal and they enjoy different benefits such as; Intensive Career Development opportunities, Special Recognition and Awards, Financial and Non Financial Rewards, Educational Subsidies for additional development like Professional Qualifications, Business Schools etc (United Bank for Africa, 2009)

Employee wellness: UBA employee’s wellness was introduced to bring physical wellness in staff, improve health and fitness, combat and alley stress, increase employee’s morale and enhance productivity in the workplace (United Bank for Africa, 2010)

The bank has an ultra modern Gym to assist employees keep fit and also to serve as an incentive for performance improvement. Aerobics sessions are organised for employees twice a week to boost employee’s physical, mental and social awareness (United Bank for Africa, 2010)

Group family jogging to Bond is also conducted every last Saturday of the month. Staff jog/walk from and back to a central take -off point, friendly soccer match is also played. These equally serve as an avenue for staff in different location to meet and interact with each other

Learning series on Employee Wellness are sent to all staff via email every month. The series are designed to high light learning point on how to take care of your health and various exercise activities to do with a goal of improving employees overall effectiveness and productivity at work (United Bank for Africa, 2010)

The bank also provide medical scheme for both employees and their immediate family

pay/compensation: UBA plc adopt an attractive and competitive pay structure across various grades. Employees are able to achieve their “psychological needs” such as food, shelter, water through monthly pay check. Although Hertzberg Theory classified pay as hygiene factor that can result to a state of “no dissatisfaction” (Anon, 2008:144). But it could be argued that pay is a motivator. According to Adam’s Equity Theory of (1965) employee compares the ratio of their outcomes to input with the ratio of outcomes to input of other colleagues in the same organisation or similar industry. Negative inequality will be perceived if the person being compared with enjoys greater outcome for similar input. For instance there was a time in UBA when the Teller (cashiers) perceived inequality between what they are being paid compared to what other Banks in Nigeria pay to their Tellers(cashiers). This resulted into poor customer service, high rate of absenteeism and high level of cash theft. In other to increase productivity and improve employee morale at this level Human capital management had to conduct a salary survey with in the banking industry and immediately did an upward review of the salary of the Teller to meet up with what is obtainable within the banking industry. Since then there had been reduction in cash theft, service rendered to customers improved and staff level of absenteeism also reduced.

The effective the motivation tools and techniques in UBA

Employee recognition and Award: Employee recognition is one of the major motivational tools used by the management of the bank in motivating its workforce. Individuals and groups are recognised for outstanding behaviour and performance, commendation letters are also issued out to staff. Names of staff given commendation letters for the months are published on the Bank monthly Human capital Management Digest and circulated to all staff through emails. These styles of motivation have increased employees morale and productivity. Staff now associates themselves with the goals of the bank and feel happy when they achieve these goals. According to (Kerr, 2003) public recognition, letter of appreciation and word of praise are powerful motivational tools that make employees to focus on organisational target. Individual Self-esteem can be narrowed once intrinsic motivation is not recognize (Lam and Lambermont-ford, 2010). Milne (2007), further state that recognizing employee achievement can keep employee zeal for the job going and will also result to greater task interest and performance.

This motivational tool has helped the bank in achieving some of its organisation goals such as zero tolerant rate for fraud, for example, the bank used to suffer a high level of financial losses as a result of processors (tellers) negligence in processing and honouring fraudulent third party cheque presented for cash across the counter. When management begin to recognize staff effort in frustrating fraudulent cheque presentation, catching the fraudster, reporting suspected fraudulent staff through the blowing whistle system introduced in the bank, the level of financial loss in the bank drastically dropped. Tellers now exercise due diligence when processing third party cheques presented across the counter for cash. For instance in year 2008 my branch recorded financial loss of N4.5 million through fraud, but in year 2009 and 2010 no financial loss was recorded through fraud. (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2009)

According to Herzberg’s two factors theory of motivation, recognition is an intrinsic factor (motivator) that causes job satisfaction and keeps employees motivated. (Fincham & Rhodes, 1999)

Maslow’s hierarchy of need identified five levels of needs: physiological, safety, social, self esteem, and self- actualizing. Individual self esteem need could be achieved through public recognition of work (Anon, 2008:142)

UBA management style of recognising and rewarding employees outstanding behaviour and performance is constituent with Reinforce theory which explain that “reward a behaviour with recognition immediately that behaviour is likely to encourage its repeat”(Robbins, 1998) Staff Recognition, word of praise and commendation letters were major tools used by the Deputy managing director of UBA Nigeria south bank to make employees to focus on organisational target. He publicly recognized and praise regional bank heads and business managers, that achieve 60% and above of their monthly budget and target during monthly profitability review meeting. His actions have positive impact on employees performance, and UBA Nigeria south Bank performance as a whole. As at July 2010 when DMD UBA Nigeria south bank took over the office, UBA Nigeria south bank was doing 35% of its yearly budget, as at December 2010 UBA Nigeria achieved 62% of its yearly target (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2010). Improved performance was equally recorded in all business area. Profit from core operation grew from N300m in July 2010 to N1.4bn by December 2010(United Bank for Africa Plc, 2010)

Performance incentive pay: The performance incentive pay is another motivational tool used by the management of the bank to enhance employees morale and increase productivity. It is a reward system introduced to drive the performance management system and reward outstanding performance (United Bank for Africa Plc, n.d ). The performance incentive pay have increased employee productivity and morale. Employees increased their effort and improve their performance in other to meet the minimum bench mark of the appraisal score of 70% to earn the performance incentive pay. Increase in employee’s productivity also affected the bank overall performance. In year 2008 the bank recorded the following growth;

Gross earning increased to N169.6billion from N109.5 billion in year 2007 showing 55% growth (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2008).

Profit after tax increase to N40.8billion from N31.2 billion in year 2007 resulting to 90% growth (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2008).

Head line Earning per share increase to N3.11 as against N2.61 in year 2007 showing 19% growth (United Bank for Africa Plc, 2008)

As Lam and Lambermont-ford (2010:56) states, ”Extrinsic motivators that provide feedback, recognition and reward … lead to increased self-esteem.”

In UBA Plc Performance incentive pay is used to reward and recognize outstanding performance and employees get regular feedback on performance.

The performance incentive pay can be likened to Expectancy Theory by Porter and Lawler (1968) which state that “employees will Put in more effort when they know that they will receive valued rewards for task accomplishment” (Anon, 2008:146). UBA performance incentive pay is the reward for employee task accomplishment.

It can also be likened to the Goal- setting Theory of Locke et al which shows that higher performance is achieved when goals are difficult, specified and regular feedback is given on performance (Anon, 2008 :147). In UBA the key performance indicators are the difficult specified goals. The performance monitoring system info pool monitor employee’s performance and give feed back on performance which helps the employee to monitor his or her progress. Giving feed back on how far and how close people have gone in achieving their target encourage and motivate people to accomplish their target (Fiorina, 2003)

This is also consistent with Hackman Model which suggest that there must be outcome and feedback on task assigned to derived job satisfaction (Linstead, Fulop and Lilley, 2004:285)

Employee training and Development: Management commitment to employee’s continuous improvement through learning and development has resulted into increase in employee’s morale, promote innovation and creativity, commitment, loyalty and increase productivity. Employees are continuously exposed to both internal and external Training. Staff who attends external training also conducts a formal knowledge and experience sharing session with other staff.

On the Job training and knowledge sharing is paramount in the Bank. Supervisors constantly train their subordinates. Knowledge sharing session is conducted twice in a week. Lam and Lambermont-ford (2010) explained that Knowledge sharing is essential in transforming employee knowledge into organizational competence. Organisational learning theorists also argued that employee’s thoughts of inclusiveness and self-sufficiency is increased by organisational learning (Remedios and Boreham, 2004)

Various research work has shown evidence that training and development enhance productivity and positively impact on the organisation overall performance (Ferguson and Reio Jr, 2010). Holzer et al (cited in Ferguson and Reio 2010), noted how continuous training on the job in Michigan manufacturing firm resulted to reduction of scrap rate in the organisation. Bartel (cited in Ferguson and Reio Jr, 2010) also noted that training programme increase labour productivity. The outcome of research conducted by Ferguson and Reio (2010) equally shows that training and development have positive impact on organisation performance.

With reference to ERG theory, employees training and development can help to satisfy intrinsic desire for personal development by increasing opportunities for growth. It also aligns with Maslow’s needs of self actualisation, which is the need to develop one’s potential (Fincham and Rhodes, 1999)

According to McClelland training increase the need to achieve (Linstead, Fulop and Lilley, 2004:285)

In UBA, continuous training on the job has improved employees turn around time on the job, increase employee’s knowledge on the banks products and processing, improved employees ability and boldness to sell the bank products, result to delivering of good service to customers and have generally impacted positively on the overall performance of the bank. The bank recorded growth in its Deposits by 7.4% from N1.25 trillion in December 2009 to N1.34 trillion as at September 2010 (United Bank for Africa Plc, n.d)

Coaching programme : The Bank also adopt a coaching programme whereby the supervisor and the subordinate come together to address performance problem. The aim of the coaching approach is for the supervisor and the subordinate to come together, to identify what is hindering subordinate performance and help to improve subordinate capability on the job through learning and development.

Pillit (2007) wrote that employee’s productivity can be increased by 15% through coaching and mentoring programme, this is based on the pilot test conducted at BT wholesale.

Bagshow and Bagshow(2002) illustrated how the coaching initiative adopted by WF Electrical and Euthwaite(2) resulted into growth in revenue and profit.

In UBA coaching and mentoring programme has built confidence in employee’s communication, people are able to discuss their performance with their coach, who in turn communicate to their coachee where they are in area of their task accomplishment, what is expected of them and how to accomplish their goals. Employees have become more resourceful and bold in achieving their target goals, they have equally align their individual goals with the bank objectives. The coaching programme has shown to have a positive financial impact in UBA. As earlier stated UBA recorded growth in all area of operation in year 2010 compared to year 2009, profit before tax was N16.9 billion as at Q3 2010 compare to the loss of N13.5 billion in 2009(united Bank for Africa Plc, 2010)

The coaching and mentoring programme is constituent with ERG Theory of Motivation because it fosters self development, built confidence in employees, encourage employee to learn and grow.

Staff share investment trust: This scheme gives every UBA staff the opportunity to share in the growing fortune of the Bank.

The staff share investment fund is really working and has increased employees performance, loyalty and commitment. In March 2006 UBA shares was sold and allotted to interested staff of the bank at N11.50k per share, (www.cashcraft.com) staff were given opportunity to subscribe for the number of unit they wish but there was maximum number of unit that could be allotted to each staff depending on staff grade. In June 2007 the management of the bank decided to repurchase the shares back from staff at the prevailing market price of N47.77k per share (Cashcraft Management, n.d). Staff accounts were credited with full proceeds of their stock investment, For instance a staff that invested N230,000 in March 2006 got N955,44 by June 2007. This is an incremental value of over 200% on investment. This management action boosted employee’s morale and increased productivity, Staff that did not subscribe for the company shares during the first opened window date immediately subscribed at the second window date and thereafter.

It was noted that IBM turn around it business positively by using stock option as a motivational tool (landry, 2003)

The trust scheme is consistent with Herzber’s two factors Theory, Motivation and Hygiene factors. The staff share scheme can provide employees with intrinsic motivation by increasing opportunity for financial growth and involvement in the work itself, being a stake holder in the bank (Robbins, 19980

Most Valuable Performer (MVP) programme: It is a programme that identifies, develop and retain the top performers in the Bank. The MVP programme enhances empleoyees personal growth According to Herzberg argued that self fulfilment was found in all personal growth experience. (Linstead, Fulop and Lilley, 2004)

The MVP programme can be likened to Herzberg’s motivation factor which is made up of continuum leading from no satisfaction to satisfaction. The MPV programme creates possibilities for growth, advancement and greater responsibility. It enables growth toward self actualization (Linstead, Fulop and Lilley, 2004)

The MVP programme is consistent with ERG theory, it gives identified employees the opportunity to learn, develop their skills and career, it gives avenue for growth through fast track promotion, the chance to experience growth is a source of a motivator (Fincham and Rhodes, 1999).

The MVP programme can be linked with Need for achievement. The identified MVPs are High achievers they find their job more challenging and they are more concern about their career growth (Linstead, Fulop and Lilley, 2004).

Employee wellness /Jogging to bond programme: The Employees wellness and jogging to bond gives employees the opportunity to do physical exercise after work and also create a forum for staff of different department to meet each other to interact and socialize

This can be linked to Maslow’s Theory which demonstrates that “deficiency needs are satisfied when jobs are available ……therefore a social need becomes important motivator at the work place” (Ficham and Rhodes, 1999: 132), the provision of gym centre, organizing jogging to bond programme give employees the opportunity to satisfy their social needs.

In UBA Employee wellness as nature wellness in workers, improve health and fitness, boost morale and increase productivity in the workplace


Having examined the various theoretical approaches to motivation, it can be concluded that there is no best way of motivating employees in an organisation. People needs differ, people emerge from different culture and what people want from their job differs. UBA management need to recognize and respond to this diversity and also need to continually bring out the best in people. The management of UBA can also consider concepts such as Job redesign, Job enlargement and Job enrichment, to make work more interesting, to increase the number and range of activities performed, also to add higher level responsibilities to a job.

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