Over the past few weeks I have been forced to ask myself this simple question: What is the qualification and experience of those who have been plunged into senior management positions within our various educational establishments, trade unions, non-governmental organisations, statutory bodies, private businesses, and the general public service?
In case you are wondering why I am interested in this matter, it is because all across the Caribbean countries are continuing to struggle to overcome severe financial and economic challenges – challenges that can only be resolved with effective management and leadership from all those who have the responsibility to so deliver.
Thus far, my intelligence gathering suggests quite unambiguously that when it comes to management and leadership, we in the Caribbean are left wanting in the important area of effectiveness. And that is no coincidence!
You see, too often, people are appointed as senior managers in every area of human activities and when it matters most they fail miserably in their quest to deliver for the good of their respective organisations, shareholders, and employees.
And that failure is often the result of pure incompetence on the part of those individuals. Why, then, were they appointed in the first place? The answer to that question depends on the organisation involved.
In the public sector, for example, individuals are promoted right through to the highest office of Permanent Secretary mostly on the basis of years of experience, dates of appointments, and continuity in service. Qualification is not the most critical issue that determines one’s promotion.
When it comes to our educational establishments; for example, our universities, the criteria for promotions and appointments are even more bizarre. If one were to ask those in authorities at our various universities what are the criteria for, say, promoting someone from a lecturer to a senior lecturer or even professor, he/she would be shocked to learn that no set rules or procedures exist to guarantee an honest answer to the question posed. Yet, as often as is known, individuals move up the academic, administrative, and professional ranks at our universities.
Undoubtedly, the lack of transparency in determining who gets promoted or appointed in the public service or at our various universities, as only two examples, more often than not lead to highly incompetent persons being placed in senior management positions and the end result is nothing short of chaos and frustration of talented employees, just to name but one negative effect of such transgressions.
If Caribbean countries are to emerge out of their present state of depression, then, effective management and leadership are needed if only to boost labour productivity in all of our income generating entities because improvement in labour productivity is entirely a management function! How many of our existing managers appreciate this simple notion?
When persons who have no bonafide skills, training, qualifications, or experience are given the task of managing organisations the end result is massive frustration right across the board and consequently low morale and productivity among employees.
And sadly, that sort of phenomenon is widespread in many organisations across the Caribbean. It is no wonder our economies are struggling as they evidently are. Isn’t time for change in our prerogative?
Dr. Brian Francis, the former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Bridgetown, Barbados of the University of the West Indies).