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‘You really oughta wanna’

Dennis Strong

‘You really oughta wanna’

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This week I have heard the Prime Minister and the Leader of Government Business `in the Senate emphasize the importance `of increasing productivity. They exhorted members of the public service in particular, `to “pull their weight” and “be punctual”.
This certainly recognizes a perennial performance issue that is generally characterized as low productivity. Recent reports commissioned by NISE and the Barbados government and others conclude that:a large segment of the population `don’t want a job and that a large percentage `of workers in the public and private `sector are disconnected from their jobs.
Consequently, the cost of doing business `in Barbados is so high it has an adverse `effect on our competitiveness.
The title of this article is taken from the subtitle of a book written in 1984 by Robert `F. Mager and Peter Pipe called Analyzing Performance Problems. It is still in print and still relevant.
The point is that the laudable words `of exhortation by government leaders cannot, by themselves, lead to improved performance. In some cases, these comments will lead `to cynical sneers from those who encounter the structural barriers to improvement `on a daily basis.
For example, training seems to be the “solution” of choice for solving performance problems. Yet, from my research and experience, managers and leaders have difficulty articulating the real discrepancy, `in measurable terms. It is hard to hit `a target that you can’t see.
In many instances, when prospective clients ask me to provide training, they have already identified content, size of the class and the number of days. When I ask, what they must be able to do upon completion, `they are presently unable to do; most look elsewhere for a trainer who won’t ask this meddlesome question.
Follow-on questions would help `to determine whether or not training `is really needed. If, for example, the workers already know how to do what you want `them to learn, what’s the purpose?
Sometimes there are factors in the organization that actually punish people `who perform as desired. A common case in point is the diligent worker who consistently completes assigned tasks in a timely `manner and goes beyond the call of duty.
Contrast this with a worker who is unreliable in attendance, consistently fails `to complete assigned tasks in a timely `way, if at all. When the crunch comes and something important needs to be done well; who gets the assignment? Both workers `get the same pay and benefits.
Worker A gets more work and `Worker B gets a message to continue `the sloven behaviour; as there are no undesirable consequences. Who needs training and on what?
Many have attended training sessions `that either covered what you already `know how to do, ignored the realities `of organization culture or taught things `that you found exciting but knew you `would not be allowed to implement.
Performance is made of:

 Ability (skills, experience, successful application of concepts and appropriate `tools, and so on)

 Motivation (willingness, confidence, attitude, purpose, and so on)

 Environment (culture, values, vision, governance, and so on).

Each of these elements acts as an enhancer or inhibiter of performance from time to time. A prudent leader needs to take a holistic view of how these elements interact and affect desired outcomes.
When people say I don’t want a job, `it may not be same as I don’t want to work.
God bless.
•  Dennis Strong is founding `president of the Caribbean Institute `of Certified Management Consultants.
‘You really oughta wanna’