Addressing the scourge of low productivity and morale in the civil service
I was very much perplexed when a Permanent Secretary approached me and asked what was the Public Service Union doing to address the situation of low morale, inefficiency and low productivity within the Service. This comment really had me stunned, for here was one of the main policy supervisors lamenting to me and asking for the Union’s intervention.
I told him to first look for the cause of the problems and when he had identified the problems and causes, he could then invite the Union to have dialogue with the policy managers, that we may work together in addressing the causes and problems to come up with the right solutions.
Now from my perspective, the problem confronting us is not phenomenal nor insurmountable, so that we can’t solve them.
The Public Service has at its core, a moral base founded on two closely related concepts; ethics and values. Values are facts, qualities which individuals use to express attributes associated with their work; values are lasting beliefs or ideals shared. It is a culture of what is right and wrong; good or bad; values have major influence on a person’s behaviour and attitude and is bounded by the moral of integrity, fairness and honesty.
To address the problem of low morals, inefficiencies and low productivity that are affecting the Service one has to put the blame squarely in the hands of the politicians. They are the ones to blame. When they put square pegs in circular holes, nepotism, political largesse and sycophants, how could a system that is based on morals, ethics of good be able to function to discern wrong from right functions. Partisan politics, laziness and ineptitude are the order of the day. Heads of Departments and Permanent Secretaries cannot implement discipline without getting pulled over and facing the brunt of the fire for doing their job. There is no impartiality. There is no more objectivity within the Public Service. Appointments, recommendation for reward and benefits are not done on merit. They are done on friend-friend relationships, nepotism, partisan association. In order for the system to function as it ought, the authority has to be put back in the hands of the public officers who would guide and implement policies who are the ones first to put discipline measures in place according to the rules and orders. When politicians no longer usurp and align with subordinates to malign and undermine managers and senior supervisors, when punishment would be swift and fair and non-partial and not as is widely practiced at the moment, then we would have a Service that is morally right, efficient, effective and productive. Only then would we be able to address this scourge that is affecting the Public Service.
So Long, Man-on-the-go.