‘Poor leaders hinder work’
BARBADOS’ AMBASSADOR TO CARICOM Robert “Bobby” Morris has suggested that the Caribbean would not see any improvement in employee engagement and productivity until fundamental change happened at the managerial level.
Organizational structures within the region were traditionally hierarchical and characterized by top-down management, he said, and “you don’t get participative workers in that environment . . .”.
“. . . unless we get a fundamental change, we’re not going to get any results,” he added.
Morris said increased attention had to be paid to the role of management in guiding employee engagement.
“People are expected to do what they are told to do . . . look, these are your targets, go and get them . . . the worker may get rewarded but then you get hooked on rewards and that creates a fair amount of selfishness in that you’re interested only in how much money you can get,” he said.
Morris was speaking during a panel discussion on employee engagement and productivity which formed part of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean’s (ICAC) recent conference at Hilton Barbados.
His comments came against the backdrop of results from a National Initiative for Service Excellence survey which showed just three out of ten employees were working at their full potential.
In response, managing director of Caribbean, Catalyst Rosalind Jackson, said that “if management is not enthusiastic or engaged you’re dead in the water”.
“We have to become better leaders. If nobody is following you, you’re not leading. You’re taking a walk,” she said.
Jackson acknowledged that in a society where there was a strong sense of entitlement, it was extremely challenging to be a good leader.
“You give proper examples, you set the right tone and let them know what is expected of them, but they fall every time,” she observed.
The human resource practitioner suggested, however, that the fault might lie at the level of management.
“If you only hire people based on their knowledge on their CV you’re a bad manager. You need to understand talent is made up of five Cs: competence, character, communication, collaboration and commitment. Those are the traits you need to hire if you want talent,” she said.
Sagicor (Barbados) executive vice-president of human resources Marguerite Estwick added that productivity in the workplace was not only about employee attitude but also deployment of resources.
“When you look at engagement and the level of motivation it’s not only an issue of talent but also an issue of resources of time and tools,” she explained.
Meanwhile, project coordinator in the Performance Review and Development System (PRDS) Unit of Government’s Personnel Administration Division, Francene Morgan, suggested that major changes might be coming soon with the roll out of the PRDS across the public service.
The new system, she explained would offer employees the opportunity to make a contribution to planning their work, setting goals, objectives and being involved at every stage of performance management.
It is intended to replace the traditional system of annual employee assessment with simple reporting of employee activity at year-end and counter the discontent associated with that process. (NB)