“If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it.” Bear Bryant
In the Western Cape, +-34k educators serve in our public schools. They consume, in salaries, around 80% of the education budget each year. Educators are undoubtedly our primary resource in the classrooms of 1500 schools in the province. It therefore goes without saying, that when our Directorate of People Management and Practices visit, they generate enormous interest amongst school managers, who have to deal with the effects of employees' service and working conditions at school level. A week ago we received such a visit at our district offices. The picture above shows you a portion of the audience-in-attendance.
The agenda is jam-packed, dealing with various aspects of recruitment practices, such as People Planning, Excess Management, Performance Management and Health and Productivity Management. We then moved on to Competency-based Recruitment and Selection, with a focus on placing good advertisements, effective shortlisting and interviewing processes and the nomination process at the tail-end. With vibrant Q@As after each input, we proceeded to unpack Service Benefits such as PILIR, Leave, Appointments, Pensions and Resignation. The afternoon's information session was rounded off by Employee Relations, which unpacked Grievances, Disputes, Fixed Term Contracts, Misconduct, Abscondment, Legal Matters and Training.
It was clear from the energy in the room that the various aspects presented throughout the afternoon resonated with everyone present. And that's how it should be. The entire emphasis of the inputs were pegged on the need to manage our staff effectively as managers. Again, rightly so, since the sophistication of our organisation's systems do not guarantee that we will be an effective organisation. Behind the many technology interfaces we have and administrative processes that drive our daily work, sit people. And people matter. They are not one, two or three dimensional objects. They are our primary resource; the drivers of each interface we generate. They are complex on both the cognitive, physiological and social level. We need to recognise this before we recognise them via staff numbers or badges. When we do, coupled with the necessary support, development and up-skilling, we start building effective organisations. When we don't, we sit with mediocrity. And our children don't deserve mediocre service.
In an article for the “Armed Forces Comptroller”, Dr John Kline highlighted the following seven ways to Effectively Manage People and Processes:
- Demonstrate a Desire to Serve: people accomplish more with managers who demonstrate a desire to serve.
- Eliminate Process Interference Factors: A process interference factor is anything that stands in the way of performing the process or completing the task. Process performance problems are often “rooted in management’s failure to provide the complete spectrum of resources—namely, time, tools, guidance, policies, and facilities.” When a manager discovers a process interference problem, his or her first action should be to supply required resources.
- Continually Improve the Process: Successful managers not only eliminate process interference factors, they search for better ways of doing things. They are not content to simply fight fires and manage crises; they improve the process by implementing productive change.
- Know Your People: Successful managers know about the people who work for them. They learn by walking around the workplace, interacting with people, and listening to what others say about them.
- Communicate Effectively: Successful managers place the highest value on effective communication because they know productivity depends upon it.
- Listen to Understand: Effective managers listen both to find out what is going on and to understand and show positive regard for those around them.
- Be an Encourager: Competent managers realize the importance of encouragement. People flourish and processes are performed better when managers encourage their subordinates.
As managers, let us continuously strive to display the above-mentioned behaviours as we serve our one million children sitting in public schools that depend on all of us to prepare them well for adulthood.