We need fair and transparent parameters to measure performance in the civil service
EDITOR: I am a government employee in a department that I prefer to keep anonymous. I have been working in this particular ministry for the past 12 years, and I have been at my current post for the past 4 years. I possess first and second degrees with honors and even made the Deane’s list while completing my postgraduate studies.
After 12 years, inclusive of the 4 years at my current workplace, I am still where I started. After constantly questioning those in authority about not receiving any documentation that would reflect my stint at the department, I received a letter suggesting that I was merely “assigned” to the department one year later. Before I go any further, let me assure readers that this letter has nothing to do with me fighting for a promotion, as persons may assume, rather it is to highlight how some ministries operate as though it’s a family and friends business. Nothing seems to be done based on merit.
Since being assigned to this department, I am responsible for four (4) of the seven (7) focus areas within my specific field and all other tasks are split in half between my coworker and me.
I take care of all the production of documentation related to my specific area that is needed for the Ministry’s purposes, whether for internal and/or external use. The aforementioned suggests that I have a greater workload than my coworker, yet this coworker receives a significantly higher salary than I do.
Over the years, there have been several promotions at my department, but somehow we only know about these promotions ‘through the grapevine’. Shouldn’t the promotion of a colleague be transparent and celebrated? In our case, it is always a secret!
The promotion of government workers is a topic that requires clarity in terms of the prerequisite measures that are used to determine who is to be promoted. I am confident that if there were fair parameters to measure performance, this would reflect that things are not done based on merit, but based on affiliations with the supervisor and others in authority. If I may be allowed to “blow my own trumpet”, I am confident that these parameters, once they are fair, will highlight that I am being undermined for being objective as is the case with many other government workers. I can produce documentation that can serve as evidence for my statement.
Interestingly, I have also seen my supervisor ensure that all of my colleagues who are considered friends, receive substantial promotions in terms of the salary increases that go along with the title. Except one other colleague, I have seen all the other coworkers who came to the department after me confirmed to those positions while I am still stuck where I began.
Should I just sit, remain motivated, smile and work hard, while others benefit even though the correct parameters will show they are less qualified and competent than I am? I guess, like they say, “it’s the system”.
This letter is not coming from a self-centred perspective,
as my experience is also the experience of many others in the civil service. Personally, I think there should be clear parameters to measure performance rather than solely depending on the recommendation of those in authority. I think your work and competence should speak for you and not anyone’s personal opinions. The current way in which promotion is being done within some of these departments is the reason why supervisors and others in authority feel empowered to use their positions to intimidate persons who are objective. In many cases, they abuse such power for their personal desires.
This situation is the reason why so many government workers are frustrated, unmotivated, underutilized and their growth is stagnant. What can be the justification for having someone qualified and competent simply “assigned” for such a long period, while all the supervisors’ friends have been promoted and confirmed in decent positions? I could understand if I were told that “I am disrespectful, unqualified or incompetent”. Unfortunately, there isn’t any supervisor or anyone in authority that will be able to use such bad traits as justification, as they are not traits I possess.
The sad thing about this situation is that we have a system that once persons are given positions they tend to not want to step on the toes of their colleagues. I already took my concerns to several persons in authority. Although many are aware of the situation, if I am here next year, it will be 5 years assigned without any justification. What are we really working towards in terms of personal growth and development, as professionals working for the government? If the growth/development of workers is suppressed, what does this suggest about the development of the department and by extension national growth/ development?
I do hope that the government will address situations like mine which I know are common across a lot of the ministries. I have had numerous discussions with professionals across the civil service and my findings show that a significant portion of government employees face similar challenges.
As for me, I believe God will make a way and my promotion will come from Him and not man. Fair is fair! There are too many government workers qualified and competent who are blatantly overlooked and undermined, while supervisors are busy allowing their friends and family members to climb the ladder and flourish. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander!
Unfortunately, the government gets the blame for the selfishness of those in authority that fail to implement the prescribed promotion process that is based on meritocracy.
Regards, Concerned Civil Servant