25.12.2004 Feature Article

Human Resource Management And Public Sector Reforms

Human Resource Management And Public Sector Reforms
25.12.2004 LISTEN

In the present-day Public Sector (PS) Reforms where government agencies are required to be results focussed (as opposed to process driven) and customer service orientated, effective human resource management within the Public Service becomes a very important governance tool.

The 'Results through People' philosophy relies heavily on the integrity and quality of leadership at all levels and is consistent with Public Sector (PS) Reforms and its strong culture of 'creating a climate for people to do their best.' To achieve this type of working environment, it is of critical importance that PS program managers and supervisors be provided with the necessary skills and tools to manage their people effectively.

Managers/Supervisors perform a vital function in personnel management for the Public Sector. Through the application of principles and values based leadership, supervisors can ensure their employees are working in an environment that supports high performance.

All Senior Executives, managers and supervisors of public servants have a prime responsibility for engaging employees to put principles into practice in their workplace. They are responsible for ensuring that work outcomes are met and their people are supported to facilitate these outcomes. Work needs to be meaningful in line with overall objectives. And they can do this effectively to achieve the desired results only if they themselves have the required personal governance attributes of integrity, commitment and leadership.

A very important role of senior management is to see that each group is responsible for ensuring that personnel policy is implemented and applied appropriately in their group. Supervisors should build a relationship with their group Human Resource (HR) section and contact them for any HR related queries eg workforce planning for the group; ensuring that HR decisions support group business outcomes and are in line with corporate directions; supporting workforce restructuring to achieve group business outcomes; monitoring the management of performance exchange processes and outcomes; implementing appropriate HR processes, practices and tools, and providing HR advice and support to managers, supervisors and employees.

Program managers and supervisors perform a number of key functions enabling the respective government departments and ministries to achieve organisational objectives. These include:

· Planning the work and deciding how, when and where it can best be done. · Organising the available resources of people, time and materials so that work will be completed on time. · Communicating so that all involved know not only what is happening but also what is expected of them. · Controlling the available resources for the work to proceed in the desired fashion. · Involving staff in the decision making process.

Consistent with good governance principles and practices, effective leaders are required to encourage their staff to display initiative and responsibility by providing them with tasks that are both interesting and challenging and make sure their staff understand why a task is being done and how their work aligns with Department/Ministry business. In view of the fact that each individual within a team will have different goals and aspirations, it is advisable for supervisors to find out about their people by listening to them. Team effort is a very important management tool and therefore necessary for supervisors to get their people involved in the decision making process whenever possible. People with personal involvement in a decision will have a higher level of commitment to achieving the required outcomes. And by of motivation, supervisors are encouraged to 'praise' where praise is due. They should endeavour to give positive feedback for a job well done. Too often feedback is negative. Good work needs to be acknowledged too.

Inappropriate conduct or unacceptable performance needs to be addressed as it occurs. Immediate counselling can prevent the problem from developing into something more serious and will often result in an immediate improvement in the situation due to mutual understanding of expectations. Should the problem continue, supervisors and managers should not be afraid to take formal performance management action.

For efficiency and effectiveness it is imperative that senior management help their people achieve their personal and professional development goals by making training and development opportunities available. These opportunities can be on or off-the-job.

Modern Public Sectors have a strong values tradition, and a history of applying these values in achieving outcomes or results. Thus it is imperative that today's PS become values-based organisations. These values (and could be a host of others) are:

· Professionalism – striving for excellence in everything we do. · Loyalty – being committed to each other, our leaders and the organisation. · Integrity – doing what is right. · Courage – having the strength of character to do what is right – extending to both courage of convictions (moral courage) and courage in harm's way (physical courage). · Innovation – actively looking for better ways of doing business. · Teamwork – working together with respect, trust and a sense of collective purpose.

Organisational change, on any level, should be implemented through education, consultation and review. Consultation ensures reduced impact on staff and greater acceptance to any change by the parties affected. In a practical sense, any change affecting your staff should be discussed at the earliest opportunity. This reduces the risk of adverse effects resulting from 'rumour-mongering' or uncertainty in the section.

For any system to work there should be in place a measuring mechanism against the objectives and indicators (Key Expected Results), whereby malfunctions, defects, errors, mistakes and related 'negatives' can be rectified in good time to mitigate any serious undesirable results. In this context supervisors have a dual role in managing the outputs or performance of the section, as well as managing the individual performances of their staff. The key is that as a supervisor, you must have time to manage the performance of your staff.

Performance management needs to be a continuous process, not just twice a year at performance exchange time. Regular feedback and performance discussions with your staff will help keep the section on track, the staff morale high and contribute to a healthy working environment. The result will be increased productivity in the section.

In conclusion it should be pointed out that the successful implementation of the 'Results through People' philosophy relies heavily on the active participation of all employees in a relevant performance scheme. The performance exchange process (a structured meeting between a supervisor and an employee, at least twice a year, to review results and plan for future activities) ensures that an individual's work and expectations are aligned with government agencies' outputs, development needs are identified and met, and performance agreements are completed.

As most of us are already aware, all the above cited management tools and governance principles and practices are achievable but only through 'Leadership by example'. It is imperative that senior management set the benchmark themselves by demonstrating their attitude, work ethic, and ability to achieve outcomes. Charles Agyeman Manu MEng , MAppSc, MBA. Assistant Director Civilian Engineer Career Management, Australian Public Service. Member of National Institute for Governance, Australia. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

ModernGhana Links

Join our Newsletter