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11.01.2003 Feature Article

Management Resources - A Solution To Ghana's Myriad Problem

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PART -2 Moving on from my first piece on the above subject, I am the first to admit that our government has good policies and is doing well given the circumstances, but my contribution was basically trying to raise awareness of the fact the the country's weak public administration system, and inability to manage resources and institutions properly is hampering and undermining the efforts being made to deliver relief to millions of our citizens quickly. Millions of dollars if not billions have been spent establishing these institutions over the years by past and successive governments, but their lack of proper management remains the main reason why our resource rich, dear and beloved country remains plagued by poor financial stability and security, poor patterns of growth in our national economy, poorly developed private sector and low levels of income. We all know that in the light of current realities of rapidly increasing population and declining internal resources we cannot allow the few thousands of "vampire elites" to keep holding 20 million of us to ransome, and keep confining more and more of our people to serious levels of poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and hopelessness. We should not stand for MEDIOCRITY anymore. As we make efforts to get the basics, like fiscal, macro and micro elements right we must develop a twin track approach to deal with the incredible levels of waste and mismanagement in state institutions, organisations, and agencies at the national, regional, district and local level, because doing nothing is not an option. One constructive suggestion that I made in my first piece is that the government should consider setting up a Management Development and Improvement Agency, which I will call project MIDA. PROJECT MIDA This would be a lead organisation, totally non partisan, possibly established by an Act of Parliament and given the necessary powers and authority to reform and improve the managerial performance of these organisations. For the inspectorate to remain above party politics it may be staffed by management experts, representatives of professional bodies, employers associations and capable business people. It's remit should include oversight activity of the organisations, looking at their Leadership, Organisational structure and Staffing issues. Human beings by nature are lazy and and if not coerced or supervised would rather prefer idleness. So MIDA'S specific objective would be to design a management improvement programme to enhance their potential and capacity to progress. MIDA would provide training and promote good management practice and provide organisations with the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes they require to perform effectively in the 21st century as part of it's action plan. Since the success and performance of any organisation depends on the quality of leadership, values of the people in positions of power, just think of any state organisation that you know in Ghana today, go on pick any of them, and put its leadership with is generous perqs, under the microscope, you would find that due to their history of mediocre performance, in nine out of ten cases there is lack of understanding of the responsibility of Chief officers. They have probably occupied these positions for years and despite the fact that everybody sees things falling apart around them, they often assume they have no need for management training, but are the first persons to use flimsy reasons to go on state sponsored trips abroad. Currently we are stuck with so many incompetent ones but the key to holding them accountable is to strongly challenge their attitudes and either clear them out as dead wood or ensure they undergo proper training to understand the concepts of responsibility, accountability and performance. They must be made to update their skills in staff management, customer care, budgeting and financial planning, strategic planning and even contigency planning to they don't forever find excuses not to do the job. If not MIDA should have a framework which can fast truck young properly trained Managers who can be properly supervised and monitored. My own little research on the organisational structures of some of these institutions revealed that the structures have been inherited from colonial times when the country faced different problems than the challenges we are currently facing. MIDA would have to look at all the structures during its Management Audit and simplify them and put in place action plans to change their culture and attitude. This can shorten the chain of command to enhance communications, faster decision making and problem solving. MIDA must help them update procedures and policies and publish them with clear information on how and who to complain to, details of staff disciplinary procedures , and make them available to the general public so everyone knows who is responsible for what. The documents of each organisation under supervision must include general statements about the organisations aims, objectives and ambitions and its underlying mission. MIDA must also encourage a whistle blowing scheme so that concerned employees can report wrong doing without being victimized. The organisations must be set realistic operational targets in measurable terms, e.g, how many customers have to be served each day, or time limits for answering correspondence from the general public or how long it must take to process an application, so their actual performance can be monitored regularly. With the support of the various sector Ministers ,MIDA may also look at setting up Management Policy Centres at the Regional District and Local level to facilitate and support decentralization and pass down the power of decision making to trained personnel at these levels of government, so that e.g a citizen in Jabeso Bia who needs to apply for a passport would not have to go to Takoradi or Accra to acquire one. if we do things this way there is no doubt in my mind that the governments efforts would produce enduring results. In the 21st Century and in the light of the pace of globalisation, technological advancement, impact of world financial markets on our national economy, and our own very challenging problems, of increasing population growth, decaying national infrastructure at national regional and local level, increasing illiteracy rates, poverty, and ignorance, we cannot keep sleep walking to disaster. Some may be in denial because they keep thinking our country is resource rich, we are religious and god fearing people so we can weather the storm with a little bit of prayers. No doubt the only growth areas in the national economy is religious organisations selling HOPE. The reality is either we act now to manage our resources and institutions efficiently, or no amount of national prayers, meditation or fasting would save our dear country. Many Thanks Stephen Nyako Management Consultant

Stephen Nyako
Stephen Nyako, © 2003

The author has 15 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: StephenNyako

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