Identifying concerns - Sample Essay
This above-mentioned form of group interview is very useful in the long-term for needs assessment, interpretation of research results and the development of questionnaires at a later date in identifying concerns, language used to denote concerns etc. But I must add that the degree of control over questions asked, due to the large number of people involved in interaction, must have been considerably less than in one-to-one interviews and thus difficult to analyse.
The researcher did not employ the method of triangulating by using individual forms of interviewing as well focus groups. Resource constraints mean this research format of focus groups could have been improved through triangulation – thus the possibility of further, deeper data being obtained from individuals in a one-to-one interview. It is always possible that there are some individuals, for whatever reasons, unwilling to go against the views of the majority in situations like focus groups – hence creating bias.
You can also add to this relative little time given for reflection after completion of questionnaires, instead the employees were put on the spot in the focus groups. I think that the researcher should have held focus groups first, from which questionnaires of greater depth could have been fashioned and individual interviews could have followed to extinguish bias and peer pressure – And also further validate data received and methods.
Ethnography would have also been an opposite of the positivistic approach employed by the researcher hence bringing variety and a different stance as well as a greater depth into the research and results due to the possibility of direct observation of the processes and procedures, breakdown of activities and culture that emasculates the companies concerned. The utilisation of secondary sources such as internal records and company reports, external sources i. e. census of the public sector, as well as telephone surveys would have added further depth and validity to the research.
I feel the use of technology was one tool that would also have been very beneficial. For example telephone surveys or even email surveys would have been practical in terms of expense and privacy and could have allowed for a much bigger and representative sample across the three sectors of the public sector – although whether the sector had the right infrastructure for internet technology based research was indistinguishable. To add to this, upper-management of the companies seems to be where the roots of the problem with the Botswana public service lie.
So an examination of those who make the final decisions i. e. through ethnography, interviews etc I think would have further assisted in establishing the flaws in the system – be it poor management decisions, bureaucracy, lack of investment or even corruption. Employee Perceptions of Leadership and Performance Management in the Botswana Public Service. Public servants in Botswana play an important role as partners in the management of the public sector and national affairs; and, during the past three decades, the country has acquired a reputation for Sound development management and good governance.
That reputation has been derived primarily from the behaviour and performance of the country’s public servants who have been motivated to fulfil their duties honestly and effectively. However, in recent years, a culture of Indifference and outright laziness has crept into the public service leading to serious bottlenecks in service delivery. This article discusses and analyses employee perceptions of leadership and performance management in the Botswana public service in light of the country’s reputation with respect to the nature and functioning of its public servants.
During the past three decades, Botswana has acquired a reputation for sound development management and good governance. That reputation has been derived primarily from the behaviour and performance of the country’s public servants. Some analysts, for example, have argued that the positive performance of the public service in Botswana, compared to other African countries, is the direct result of the fact that the public service is staffed, for the most part, by men and women of both competence and integrity who are motivated to fulfil their duties honestly and effectively.
Moreover, the country’s public affairs have been managed in a transparent manner by a public service that can be regarded as being apolitical and one where public servants are held accountable. Public servants in Botswana play an important role as partners in the management of the public sector and national affairs. It is the bureaucracy, contrary to conventional thinking, and not the political leadership that has been the dominant actor in the country’s policy-making and implementation.
The most recent data (2000) indicate that there are 121,035 employees in the Botswana public sector with a distribution of 85,690 (71 percent) working for the central government; 18,847 (15 percent) working for local government; and 16,498 (14 percent) employed by parastatals. Consistent with the record and reputation of the public service, compared to other African countries, Botswana has also been able to react rapidly to any real or perceived deficiencies in the management of its development policy so as to maintain the necessary administrative capacity for economic development and progress.
This article discusses and analyses employee perceptions of leadership and performance management in the Botswana public service in light of the foregoing discussion on the nature and functioning of the country’s public servants. It is based on a sample survey of, and focus group discussions with, employees in two major central government institutions that were conducted in 1999. For technical and other practical reasons, these two institutions will not be identified here. They will, instead, be referred to as Institution A and Institution B. They were chosen for their separate and distinct public reputations.
Institution A tends to be highly regarded as an efficient government agency while Institution B is seen as under-performing. Methodology The methods used to collect the opinions of the employees were a questionnaire and focus group discussions, as previously stated. A total of 1 10 questionnaires were administered to junior management and general staff members of the two institutions, comprising 8 percent of the total number of employees in these two institutions. The questionnaire was a fairly comprehensive and detailed instrument covering the various areas indicated in the next section.
Focus group discussions immediately followed the completion of the questionnaire. These were designed to supplement the rich information contained in the questionnaire responses. These focus group discussions developed into lively and very frank discussions about a range of relevant issues and provided insights into the views of the public servants with respect to leadership and performance management. They also offered a thorough impression of the organisational culture of the two institutions. Findings and Discussion Leadership and Organisational Planning
Employee perceptions about leadership and organisational planning revealed a mixed bag across the two institutions. In Institution A, the quality of leadership and organisational planning was rated very high. This institution has demonstrated its recognition of the need for change and re-engineering by commissioning external reviews of its operations and recommendations for improving performance and efficiency Furthermore, it has been engaged in some degree of strategic planning and has been attempting to link its strategic planning activities to its operational policies at all levels of the organisation.
In support of those goals, Institution A has also developed a vision statement, organisational objectives, and support goals with an emphasis on further improving the quality of its service delivery Identifying the need to restructure and reposition the Institution 15 an indicator of good leadership attempting to come to grips with the imperative to develop and implement policies to meet goals and objectives to fulfil the mission of the institution. In Institution B, leadership and organisational planning was, not surprisingly, regarded as very weak.
Close to one-half (47 percent) of the interviewees in that institution rated leadership qualities as just satisfactory while another 28 percent gave a rating of poor. This suggests that administrative and leadership capacity is not adequate at the moment and there is therefore considerable room for improvement of organisational effectiveness including strategic planning which now seems to be haphazard at best. Also, there are no concrete operational policies that are passed on to all staff from a unit, divisional, departmental, and organisational perspective.
Perhaps, this stems from the fact that there are no strategic objectives at the micro-level (unit, division, department) that feed into the objectives at the macro-level (organisation). This state of affairs, in turn, leads to a lack of common understanding among the staff of the policies and goals of the organisation and the role of their units/departments/divisions in achieving them. Leadership and the Organisational Environment The nature of any organizational environment has much to do with, among other things, employee motivation and job satisfaction.
In Institution A, all of the employees said that their superiors consulted them frequently and their ideas sought. One third of the respondents indicated that they are always consulted, and the other two-thirds indicated that they are consulted most of the time. With respect to job satisfaction, approximately 49 percent of the respondents from Institution A expressed dissatisfaction with their current job in the organisation. The reasons for this dissatisfaction are many and varied.
However, the primary issues highlighted were under-staffing which resulted in work overload, a lack of challenging work at times, placement in posts without regard to ability and past performance, and lack of opportunities for promotion. While all of these reasons are significant, it is the issue of promotions, or lack thereof, that was most prevalent. The system of promotion in the Botswana public service has been very rigid. Under normal circumstances, for a staff member to qualify for promotion, a minimum period of service at the immediately preceding level was necessary and seniority became paramount in the process.
Consequently, promotions based on merit have been hindered. Although in recent years efforts have been made to break out of this system, most staff continues to remain sceptical about the process. Not surprisingly, therefore, in the focus group discussions the majority of the employees expressed dissatisfaction with respect to the promotions process. The main issues they cited were lack of properly planned career paths; non-availability of posts in the organizational establishment; the non-transparency of the promotions process; the promotions process is too lengthy; and promotions are not based on performance but on seniority
With regard to the physical environment in Institution A, a majority (61 percent) of the respondents expressed the view that they were satisfied with the layout and cleanliness of their work environment, However, the rest were dissatisfied for a number of reasons, including the views that some offices were too crowded for effective cleaning, there was inappropriate geographical location of some offices in the industrial areas, there was a lack of cleaning manpower and machinery there was a lack of motivation and proper supervision of the cleaners, and office buildings are too old and not well maintained.
Although only one-third of the employees were dissatisfied here, working in poor quality offices, as well as bad facilities, affects the self-esteem of staff and therefore impacts negatively on morale, communication, and customer service. In Institution B, 87 percent of the respondents said that they were not consulted by their superiors or given opportunities to participate in decision-making processes in the organisation.
As a matter of fact, the focus group discussions at this organisation revealed a wide belief that senior managers are reluctant to consult junior staff members for the erroneous reason that the latter may have nothing to contribute. This is quite a bone of contention and a source of de-motivation for these junior staffers. Consequently, it is not surprising to find that there is also considerable job dissatisfaction within the organisation. Fifty-six percent of the respondents in this institution are dissatisfied with their jobs.
The specific reasons given for this dissatisfaction include inadequate financial and other rewards for their performance, poor communication between senior management and themselves, an inaccessible and remote senior management, job descriptions that are rarely adhered to or followed, lack of guidance and supervision from senior management, heavy workloads, and a senior management that is resistant to change and very remote. One result of this state of affairs, as expressed in the focus group discussions, is a strong desire on the part of the employees for more inclusive and participative management throughout the entire organisation.
As in Institution A, the promotions process was heavily criticised in Institution B. In addition to the issues cited by the employees in Institution A, the employees in Institution B also listed in their views that promotions are awarded on subjective criteria; that slow expansion of the organisation resulted in a lack of posts, that there was a lack of interest on the part of senior management in the welfare of staff, and that senior management opposed upgrading some posts. Basically, what seems to be coming through very loud and clear is that there is no direct link between promotion and performance.
As a result, the current promotion system does not reward high performers, and all staff members are being frustrated. The physical environment was also of some concern to the respondents from Institution B. Approximately 57 percent of these employees were unhappy with their office surroundings. They indicated that the cleanliness of their work environment was unacceptable and posed a “health hazard” with some dirty toilets and a dirty kitchen. Some office areas were also regarded as overcrowded and in need of repair.
Performance Management and Training The government of Botswana intends to roll out a performance management system (PMS) by 2004-05 to cover the entire public service. This was deemed necessary as part of the ongoing process to improve the quality of services being delivered by the public sector. In that regard, a series of questions was included in the questionnaire to determine the current nature and extent of knowledge of PMS among the employees as well as the status of training plans within their organisations.
In Institution A, 63 percent of the respondents indicated that they were not familiar with the concept or practice of performance management. However, despite their widespread lack of knowledge, they expressed overwhelming support for the use of PMS in their organisation. In fact, 82 percent of them agreed that PMS should be implemented in their organisation based on what little they now know about its potential to improve efficiency and service delivery.