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Organisations and People Management Report Nationwide Building Society

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 5479 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Nationwide is World’s largest Building Society and one of the major players in the U.K. banking sector. Having one of the seven group members as an employee of Nationwide Building Society, this management report has been developed to critically evaluate certain aspects of Nationwide. In this report, we have wished to brief our readers about Nationwide’s business strategy, structure, culture, management and leadership. This will be followed by a conclusion of the group’s review about the chosen organization and finally certain recommendations will be made.

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Contents Page

1. Introduction

a. Terms of reference 3

b. Background 3

2. Methods

a. Data collection methods 4

b. Issues and challenges 4

c. Analysis 4

3. Results

a. Overview of corporate strategy & business goals 5

b. Explanation of organisational structure 8

c. Analysis of organisational culture 11

d. Critical evaluation of Management & Leadership practices 14

4. To end with

a. SWOT analysis 17

b. Recommendations 18

c. Conclusions 18

5. References 20

6. Appendix-1 22

7. Appendix-2 23

8. Appendix-3 24

Organisations & People Management Report


Terms of reference:

This report aims at providing an overview of Nationwide Building Society and critically evaluates its business strategy, structure, culture, leadership and management. The findings shall present some key features of the organization. Some recommendations provided at the end shall help the management of Nationwide to improve certain practices.


Nationwide Building Society, started its journey back in 1946 as carrying the name Provident Union Building Society in Ramsbury, Wiltshire, in 1848 it moved in Northampton as the Northampton Town and Country Freehold Land Society and finally in London as Co-operative Permanent Building society in 1884. Thriving on well-over 160 years’ glorious history and over hundred mergers, it has become the third largest mortgage provider and second largest savings provider in the UK. More significantly, Nationwide is the largest building society in the world (History (Nationwide Building Society, 2010)). Today Nationwide’s portfolio consists of over fourteen million customers, total assets over £200 billion and over 900 outlets countrywide. Being the largest building society in the world (Corporate Responsibility report, 2008/09) Nationwide also thrives with its ‘mutual’ heritage which made the enterprise unique among other financial industries in the marketplace. The CEO, Graham Beale described Nationwide Building Society in the following way in Corporate Responsibility report (2008/09, p.2):

“Being a building society makes us fundamentally different from the big banks we compete with. We don’t have shareholders, we are owned by our members. So you set our agenda.”


Data collection methods:

To make this venture less difficult, we had an early start with regular group meetings every Wednesday 4pm at room M5 or Main Arts building. Minutes for each meet were maintained. In-depth qualitative and few quantitative data were obtained through a personal interview with a senior Branch Manager, personal observation (and one of our group member’s personal experiences as a nationwide employee), internet and company publications. Theory and ideas were culled from several books, journals and websites.

Issues and challenges:

This report is the product of combined efforts of all our hearts and minds and has been framed within a month. Due to limited time and fund, we could gain access to mostly branch level information. After a struggle for appointment, we had been able to explore Nationwide through a senior Branch Manager at local branch. No sensitive questions were asked and no rules were violated during the research process.


A pure qualitative analysis has been made with a combination of exploratory and descriptive approach using the following process suggested by Saunders et al (2009, p. 489-490)

” Summarizing : condensation of meanings

Categorization : grouping of meanings

Structuring: Ordering of meanings using narrative.”



To describe company’s mission large companies publish a statement called ‘mission statement’ which comprises of organisation’s purpose and general direction that they are going to follow, its guiding values, principals and goals (Lynch, 2000). Adcock et al. (1995, p.298) provide a comprehensive description on business organisation’s mission statement which as follows:

“A mission statement indicates how that organisation intends to fulfil main business objectives while recognising the legitimate interests of other stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers, and the communities in which the organisation operates.”

Hence the mission statement carries a significant value for the organisation in terms of company’s business, service, and goals; it has to be dynamic, transparent and easy to understand by all classes of stakeholders, otherwise it could create a confusion among colleagues and customers alike (Trapp, 1999).

In light of above argument Nationwide’s mission statement is below:

“As a UK based mutual we exist solely for the benefit of our members. We help them and their families meet their financial needs in a sustainable, responsible and secure way – as we have done since 1846, in a manner that is open, honest, and fair.”

(Corporate Responsibility report, 2008/09, p4)

Since a financial organisation, Nationwide clearly visualizes its mission by aforementioned statement; which is dynamic, transparent and easily understandable to all; especially about its history (1846), organisation structure (mutual), services (financial

needs), qualities (sustainable, responsible and secure), accountability (members) and business strategy (open, honest and fair) and goal (meeting customers’ financial needs).

Nationwide’s intention is not only generating asset and profit from the business, but also sharing its profit and providing world class financial services to better off its customers in an open, honest, fair and amicable atmosphere; where customers feel valued and secured to conduct their financial businesses.


Mullins (2002, p126) describes “the goals of an organisation are the reason for its existence. The activities of the organisation are directed to the attainment of its goals. A goal is a future expectation, some desired future state. It is something the organisation is striving to accomplish.”

Goals can be described number of ways; such as, the overall purposes of an organisation, the execution of specific requirements, and so on. The core difference between functions and goals of an organisation is, goals are more specific and they are determined by the inputs and outputs of that organisation. Goals can also be named as objectives that every organisation tends to achieve (Mullins, 2002).

Goals create a number of functions for the organisation to accomplish. Such as firstly, goals provide a certain standard in organisational structure which help the staff-members to figure out the way of performing their necessary activities, and also help the management to find out the right direction of planning and decision-making towards success. Secondly, goals help to determine the technology that will be compatible with organisation’s structure to perform all activities securely and smoothly. Thirdly, goals can help reward systems to motivate and drive staff-members of the organisation to accomplish their individual and group tasks. Finally, goals can represent the organisation to the external clients; can evaluate the organisation for further improvement (products and services); also can help to set objectives as well as policies for the organisation (Kast and Rosenzweig, 1985).

Being a financial organisation, Nationwide sets up its corporate goals on annual basis (April to following year’s March). Every year they run a seminar, called ‘Employee Corporate Cascade’ to indicate corporate plans and goals. According to ‘Employee Corporate Cascade conference presentation (2010)’ Nationwide declared its business goals based on customer, market positioning, income, profitability, efficiency, capital and liquidity which are as follows:

Becoming number-one in customer service satisfaction position;

Keeping position on as third largest mortgage and savings provider, obtaining 10% of main current account and 5% of other products provider in the whole UK retail banking market and generating profit contribution of £50m+ for each business line;

Generating Non-margin profit by 50%;

Raising £1bn+ profit in year 2010/11;

Gaining cost income ratio 49%;

Maintaining core tier1 (a regulation implemented by Bank for International Settlements on bank’s capital adequacy requirement to continue its business) solvency ratio of 12% or more.

Comply with Individual Liquidity Guidance.

Above goals are clearly drawing a sketch on Nationwide’s future and desired expectations; which will assist the management to frame out proper business strategies towards achieving its goals.

Business strategy:

According to Huczynski and Buchanan (2007, p 524), ‘the direction in which an organisation moves is influenced by the decisions that are made about its strategy.’

Business strategy is a part of the corporate strategy of the company which related to company’s business divisions. Tilles (1969) discuses the importance of having an explicit business strategy to expand the company, he explains without having a certain strategy it is difficult to integrate co-ordinated action with industrial effort. In addition, there are number of other good reasons for company to have an explicit business strategy. Firstly, for making people to or-ordinate each-other to achieve goals with mutual effort; secondly, for changing company’s environmental conditions (Mullins, 2002).

Without a proper business strategy the company runs like a ship without a captain; nobody knows where to go and what to do. In that situation members of the company may start working cross-purposes; top management may not be able to communicate with lower management who is suppose to drive the employees to set up their target towards the goal. If company continues in absence of a proper business strategy, the survival of that company may be in question. However creative effort is necessary to create a strategy; moreover, to make a strategy successful it may require adapting different methods in behaviour as well as basic change in the way of interactions among managers (Johnson and Scholes, 1998).

Being the largest building society in the world, Nationwide is always well ahead with its business strategy which is one of the main instruments of its ongoing glorious success. Nationwide’s vision is to plan ahead for longer period rather than shorter term, because in short period of time the implementation of new strategy may not acquire proper success. However, Nationwide’s managers’ follow a flexible attitude in their business strategy; as they may amend the strategy if necessary.

According to Corporate Responsibility report, 2008/09, in September 2009, Nationwide has set up its three year’s business strategy which includes three core strands. Such as:

becoming the full service provider (for, mortgages, lending, savings, consumer banking, insurance, investments, protection and wealth planning);

becoming a challenger brand in the U.K. financial market;

offering traditional mutual (member-oriented) delivery model in business.

From above discussion, it is tangible that Nationwide’s business strategy is absolutely explicit about what they want to achieve; which helps managers and employees to plan towards its goals and acquiring the successes accordingly.

Organisational Structure

Various academic literatures have defined the term organizational structure in various ways: As a framework in which organizations achieve their goals or as a division of activities in an organization and how they can be coordinated. However despite these varying views, most cooperate organizations will agree that structures exits to maintain procedures. According to (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p.446)the definition of a structure is “a formal system of task and reporting relationship that control, coordinates and motivates employees so that they work together to achieve organizational goals”. Mullins (2002, p.530) also defines it as “the pattern of relationships among positions in the organization and among members of the organization. Structure makes possible the application of the process of management and creates a framework of order and command to which the activities of the organization can be planned, organized, directed and controlled.” Martinsons and Martinsons (1994) say there are three types of organizational structure; Functional, Divisional and Matrix Organizational Structure, in which one of these structures is relevant to Nationwide.

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Functional Structure:

This structure depends on group’s functions that are present in an organization. This type of structure originates from the beaucratic structure. It is most affective when there is division of work in the organization. What’s more this kind of structure creates the environment for specialization which helps in the functional areas and which helps to smoothen the progress of synchronization among its members (Martinsons and Martinsons, 1994).

Divisional Structure:

It is adopted by firms when they want to broaden their business and spread their product line. Based upon its different product or market, the company divides into separate units. Pascale (1990) explains the company breaks upon its operations into manageable units or little companies, which then operates under a mechanistic structure.

Matrix Structure:

This employs both the functional and divisional type of structures allowing a downwards control of its functional departments and coordination of its department. Since it’s a hybrid of two structures, it has two lines of authority with employees reporting to two bosses. (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007)

Organizational structure helps in identifying the pattern of communication in an organization. The existence of a structure communicates the rules and regulations to the employees, as they are informed as to what is required of them in relation to their jobs. It also makes clear the rewards that are available to deserving employees, in terms of promotion etc. as well as elaborating the goals and objectives of the organization.

Secondly, structures also identify authority and responsibilities associated with it by clarifying who makes the decision and who is accountable to whom. Decision making and information sharing is effectively carried out with the appropriate structures in place. When decisions are taken from top management, it is easily dropped down to the lower level management. In the same way the feedback from employees and lower levels easily get back to top management, which leads to job satisfaction.

Finally, when the right organizational structure is implemented, it serves as a source of competitive advantage that can accrue economic efficiency and productivity for the organization. As rightly said by Drucker (1989, p.223) “Good organization structure does not by itself produce good performance. But a poor organizational structure make good performance impossible, no matter how good individual managers may be….to improve organizational structure there for improve performance”.

Nationwide as an organization believes and recognizes the need to have a good structure to increase productivity and profitability. This is captured in Nationwide Chief Executive’s annual meeting report.

“There is no doubt that strong management and sound leadership really make a difference and are important qualities to get right in an executive team. Having the right structure in place to support the delivery of our corporate plan is critically important to our success” (Corporate Responsibility Report, 2008/09). Please see Appendix-1 & 2 for full Organizational Structure Chart and current Management Structure of Nationwide.

Nationwide is a mutual society, with its Headquarters in the U.K. It is one of the largest financial companies which deal with a number of profitable products with different

customers. Nationwide as an organization implements the Functional form of structure. In this structure there are a number of boards of directors who play key role in the management of Nationwide, but do not interfere in the day to day activities of the society. They deal with major issues concerning Nationwide when it is deemed necessary.

However, when it comes to the day to day running of Nationwide the Chief Executive is the one with such responsibility, he occupies the highest position in the hierarchy, with a number of executive directors who are accountable to him. They are, Chris Rhodes (Executive Director Group Product & Marketing), Matthew Wyles (Executive Director & Group Distribution), David Rigney (Executive Director Group Operations), Mark Remison (Executive Director Group Finance), Tony Prestedge (Executive Director Group Development) and Maxine Taylor (Divisional Director Corporate Affairs) (Management (Nationwide Building Society, 2010)).

Beneath these departments are sub units, however attention will be given to the Executive Director and Group Distribution Department and its sub units, since the structure is the same for the various departments. This department has the Divisional Director who operates Branch Network, with assistance of the Regional Directors, Area Directors, District sales Managers and Branch Managers. All work at different levels of the hierarchy as represented by the organizational chart in Appendix-1. This enables Nationwide to assess how well these sub units perform; and if performance doesn’t show satisfactory, managers can decide to take right approaches that need to be taken.

Functions of key Departments:

The Cooperate office headed by Maxine Taylor have the responsibilities of ensuring Nationwide’s vision, its strategy, goals, values and plans so that it workers can be motivated to give of their best performance. In its media relation and member engagements, it is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the name and image of Nationwide is well managed in the media, as Nationwide is U.K’s largest building society. This department also manages the Nationwide Foundation charity for the community, as it is ‘committed in making a difference to people’s life’.

Nationwide’s Group Finance and Risk with Mark Rennison as the Executive Director are keen to ensuring that their financial objectives are achieved within the set time frame. This they do by ensuring that the Society performs favorably in the financial market and also managing any risk that may arise. They also look out for opportunities such as partnership, merger, and acquisition by investigating the financial benefits before any corporate decisions are taken.

Division of Labor and Communication:

In Nationwide each department has its own policies to control its day to day activities, even though rules are regulated from the top of the hierarchy. This enables the various managers to take charge of their departments, with the subordinates in those departments accountable to them. This type of structure allows the different departments to function independently but then reports directly to the CEO.

The structure also enhances the communication pattern in Nationwide by enabling the various departments at all levels to engage in decision making and problem solving process.


In Nationwide, each department has given the autonomy to carry out its activities. However, each director in his given department is responsible for coordinating these various activities in his/her department in order to be productive.

Nationwide has the Group Product and Marketing Department headed by Chris Rhodes. This department has the sole responsibility of developing products that will add value and meet the needs and expectations of their customers; thus the department needs to coordinate the various activities of its sub units .i.e. Banking, Lending, Investment, Insurance, Business Strategy & Marketing Division in a harmonious manner, to achieve its departmental goals..

Organizational Culture

For all of the enterprises the organizational culture has been regarded as one of the core competitiveness of corporation. It plays an important role in the process of construction and development of enterprises. As a rising management concept, the organizational culture can determine and influence the behavior of their workforce, members and visitors. Distinctive ethos of enterprises which include the values, beliefs and various patterns of behavior that forms in a long-term development of corporation. It endows the enterprises with vital force which can be a basic element that makes corporation survive, develop and become stronger in the future. However, the meanings of organizational culture may very in different enterprises.

Generally, organizational culture can be defined as the “collection of relatively uniform and enduring values, beliefs, customs, traditions and practices; which are shared by an organization’s members, learned by new recruits and transmitted from one generation of employees to the next” (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 623). Additionally, in Schein’s (1985) ‘Three Levels of Culture’ theory, the organizational culture can be considered from three levels which include the following steps:

Surface manifestation of culture:

The surface manifestation of culture is a visible form of culture which “can be seen, heard or felt” (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 625). For instance, the visible form of culture can be regarded as the organizational structure, system, and procedure which can be a norm of organization to condition or influence the behavior of employees. As the most reachable aspect that can be observed by people, the surface manifestation of culture can also help enterprises to transmit a message to their members, visitors and customers by the operating direction, the societal image and the belief of the organization (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007).

In the case of Nationwide, the surface manifestation of culture can be reflected by their operating direction. Nationwide offers products and services including savings, current accounts, loans, mortgages, insurance and so on, which belongs to banking and financial services culture. Moreover, being a mutual organization, Nationwide has its particular corporate banking and financial culture which has been reflected in its aforementioned mission statement.

Therefore, the core element which makes Nationwide quite different from any other banking organizations is the meaning of the “members”. The meaning of “members” can be explained as that once a person opens an account, he or she becomes the member of Nationwide. Hence Nationwide always considers its customers first due to its mutuality model because Nationwide does not have any shareholder and is oriented by its members. Therefore the goal of its operation is to generate profit and share that profit among the members offering world-class service, cheaper rate on borrowing, more return in investment and so on. According to the chart-1, it is tangible that Nationwide’s culture based on its CR strategy which comprises of four core elements. Such as, first: improving customer’s financial capability and become a responsible lender; second: supporting, helping and encouraging members in housing; third: implementing ethical choice in business to save environment, in particular reducing carbon footprint; fourth: engaging employees and members to support communities.

Chart-1: Nationwide’s Corporate Responsibility Strategy

The corporate values:

The corporate values are the core of enterprise culture. It can be defined as operating philosophies or principles that guide enterprise’s internal conducts as well as its relationship with the external world. Core values are often shown in the mission statement. Based on Schein’s (1985) three levels of culture, organizational values have been deemed as the second level which comprises of all sorts of public advocacy values; including mission, purpose, behaviors and standards which support the surface manifestation level. In addition, Peters and Waterman (1982) pointed out that values always combine with enterprise success and many relevant important elements which are staffs, skills, style and strategy. At the same time, values are offered a general direction for all the staffs and affect their behaviors.

At Nationwide, one of the specific features is its mutuality. A mutual organization is based on the principle of mutuality. Unlike the co-operative society, members in mutual organization usually do not contribute any fund to the corporate directly; nevertheless the members derive their rights towards profits. Over 160 years of development, Nationwide has become a powerful society. Due to modern mutuality, it forms its unique traditional values to the customers. Banks pay back millions to their shareholders, where as Nationwide shares millions with its customers. Nationwide operates its strong organizational culture called “Putting customers first” which is based on five distinct values (Corporate Responsibility Report, 2008/09):

Open: The Company is an inclusive organization membership that is open to all, and all of their members have a say in how the company run. Nationwide arranges the annual general meeting (AGM) every year which ask for members to take part to express their opinion. Each member can do this by voting on a series of issues.

Fair: Nationwide treats customers fairly by offering better rewards those who entrust company with more of their businesses.

Responsible: Nationwide’s business model is low risk, stable and sustainable. They safeguard customers’ money and data at all times. Unlike traditional business model of investment banks, Nationwide pursuits of low risk and stable in the process of development.

Committed: Going ‘the extra mile’ and taking ‘level best’ care of customers are traditions of Nationwide. Nationwide always keep its promises, In Corporate Responsibility Report 2008/09, CEO, Graham Beale mentioned “we say what we are going to do and then do it.”

Adult to adult: Nationwide believe in adult relationships. They don’t patronize, rather they treat people as equal.

Due to the modern mutual with values, customers are also owners who always reserve some special rights, notably the voting right. These are rights that people don’t have if they are only customers of other ordinary bank. Customers in Nationwide have the opportunity to assist shaping how Nationwide to run. Each customer can observe whether Nationwide is treating customers equally and offers fairness, low risk, stability, sustainability in its products and services. The core value is obviously that ‘putting customers first’ in Nationwide.

Organizational Management

Business Dictionary (2010) defines Management as “Organization and coordination of the activities of an enterprise in accordance with certain policies and in achievement of clearly defined objectives.” It includes the functions of POSDCORB (Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Co-ordinating, Reporting and Budgeting) and also managing the organizational culture and structure discussed previously. Often seen as one of the factor of production, the approach to management adopted differs with the size and function of the organization. Except the military and a few government and private bodies, most companies today are following the modern approach to management due to the various drawbacks of traditional management style like strict result orientation, use of fear & force to get the work done, no care or importance given to employees interests, well-being and so on. Now the companies understand that the basic function of management of any service organization like a bank revolves round the well being of the human resources both the officers and workmen staff working within. (Sen Gupta, 2009)

Banking is one of the most prominent among the 12 services classified under the services definition of GATS (General Agreement on Trade of Services). Nationwide certainly has a good hand over banking and being a large sized Building Society, its day-to-day management is primarily in the hands of the senior management team along with a large number of committees all under the power of the Board of Directors. The policies formulated by this Board of directors are implemented by the Chief Executive. With Centralized decision making in place, Nationwide takes good care of its employees and makes sure that they retain the best ones permanently. (Read Bolton and Gold, 1995, “Career management at Nationwide Building Society using a soft systems approach”.) Simple motivational techniques like praising the employees for the job saying ‘well done’; providing training when the performance is not satisfactory; offering good working conditions and facilities; running employee welfare programs; sending £30 as Christmas surprise gift to every employee; and even a simple ‘thank you’ makes a considerable difference in their performance.

Another factor influencing the performance of a building society is ‘market competition’ which has intensified over time especially in terms of savings and mortgages. Snape, et al. (1993) suggested the integration of business strategy and human resource strategy as a solution to this problem. They also mentioned that a more dynamic market, with a stronger emphasis on sales performance, placed new demands on employees, and many societies responded by espousing the ideals of ‘human resource management’.

Bartel (2000) in her study confirms that Human resource management related actions have the potential to improve branch level performance in banking industry, but concludes by saying that “even though all managers in a bank are given a formal set of human resource policies, they appear to have considerable discretion in their application”. A lot of organizational performance also depends on the type of leader; his practices and they way groups are made and function.

Groups in Nationwide:

According to Nationwide Corporate Responsibility Report, 2008-09, Nationwide is classified into a large number of groups ranging from Branch Network, Intermediary Sales and Corporate Accounts, Business Planning and Research, Internet Channels, Telephone Channels, Channel Integration, Integration and Operations, Regional Brands and Regional Brands Branch Network. The Product and Marketing Division works in close liaison with these teams to build a high performance culture as the teams pull out all the stops to deliver an outstanding customer experience. These teams work in isolation towards achieving vital synergies that lead to significant reduction in their costs and improvement in sales performance.


Business Dictionary (2010) def


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