A critical evaluation of research by Kempe Ronald and Hope Sr. into employee perceptions of leadership and performance management in the Botswana public service.
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A critical evaluation of research by Kempe Ronald and Hope Sr. into employee perceptions of leadership and performance management in the Botswana public service. The article is about public servants in Botswana who play an important role as partners in the management of public sector and national affairs. During the past three decades, the country has accomplished 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. On the contrary, in recent years, a culture of Indifference and perceptible laziness has crept into the public service leading to serious bottlenecks in service delivery. This article by Kempe Ronald and Hope Sr. 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. The research approach employed is based on a sample survey of, and focus group discussions with, employees in two major central government institutions. The two institutions are not identified - they are referred to as Institution A and Institution B. The institutions were chosen for their separate and distinct public reputations, with Institution A highly regarded as an efficient government agency whilst in comparison Institution B is under-performing. The positivistic methodology of the questionnaires is appropriate to the objectives of the research because it is a sample of subjects drawn from a population, thus enabling the researcher to make accurate inferences about the population. For a population of 121,035 employees in the Botswana public sector, it would be time consuming and expensive to collect individual data. The combination of the focus group to develop the questionnaire is a good method - also ideal for quantitative study. In this investigation into employee perceptions of leadership and performance management in the Botswana public service, taking into account the current culture of Indifference and perceptible laziness that
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.
Against that backdrop, the Botswana public service needs to adapt a global mindset with a transformed leadership that pursues the capacity to turn threats or stumbling blocks into opportunities; to motivate people to excel, not just to survive; and to accelerate innovations in the workplace. Undoubtedly, globalisation demands new thinking as the certainty of laws and predictable relations no longer exist and more has to be done with less resources and time to react. For Botswana, developing and managing public service personnel who can think, lead, and also act from a global perspective, and who possess a global mindset, must become a priority Continuous change of the mindset of these public service officers, in line with global trends and private sector realities, is therefore of paramount importance. Conclusion As this work demonstrates, despite Botswana's reputation for generally sound and efficient public service management, some public service institutions are now performing rather poorly Indeed, according to one view expressed in an original draft speech for the country's current President, but which was later omitted: "the years following our attainment of independence [in 1966] were characterised by a general dedication, zeal and enthusiasm by public officers in the execution of their duties." However, by the mid-1980s, complacency laziness and, at times, outright neglect of duties and responsibilities began to permeate the public service. Leadership skills have declined and performance management has become problematic. Nonetheless, Botswana still maintains the requisite capacity to determine and implement the necessary reforms such as performance management systems, to rapidly improve the quality of its public service delivery As a matter of fact, Botswana must be commended for being one African country that has, over the years, voluntarily introduced measures to reform its public service. Most other African countries have embarked on such reform measures as a result of conditionalities associated with donor assistance packages. Given the influence and impact of globalisation, Botswana now needs to intensify its public service reform efforts. Good leadership needs to be brought back in.
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