A Look At Organizational and Personal Performance (Part 1)

I personally detest mediocrity and celebrate smart workers who I refer to as entrepreneurs even whilst working for organizations that do not belong to them. These people give their best and are constantly renewing their skill sets and their conscience is linked to the fact that as you do to another man’s business; so shall men do unto you too. The Nigerian labor pool is filled with a mixture of flavors of workers.

Government establishments have their big share of redundant workers whose aim for working is to collect their pay cheques at the end of every month. When you have business with most of these people, they do it as if you are asking for a favor and some of them actually act as tin gods in their respective cubicles. To sign a document, you will be surprised to hear that it takes 4 weeks for the file to pass from Office Assistant A to B before it goes to the table of Mama Typist who types the memo attached to it. This then goes to the Secretary’s table where it spends weeks depending on the level of settlement by the subject in concern. The journey to the big Oga’s table is a matter of miracle sometimes because the almighty office boasts of a high record of lost files.

I am not going to commit a fallacy of hasty generalization, hence I must mention that some government workers still understand the meaning of dignity in labor and carry out their duties conscientiously. These are the exceptions to the rule. Sometimes; I try to imagine where it all went wrong but I guess it dates back to periods before my conception though the erosion is a continuous one which gets worse with each generation.

This problem is not limited to government establishments but also in private organizations. When you see an under-performing business, you need to check the people in the organization. When an office is filled with people who do not even understand the reason they are working apart from the need to eke out a living – then the sun is about to set on such organizations. Sadly, most establishment run into this problems sooner or later no matter how well they started.
I wish to share some insights into some factors causing this.

1. Morale

I mentioned that mediocrity in staff behavior is not an exclusive property of government establishments. Mostly, it is linked to low morale of the workers. When people don’t have goals or visions, it is always very hard for them to perform as every day is like the last one. Morale is not necessarily bought by big salaries but can be tied to challenging duties and other incentive to want to work smarter.

2. Monotonous Duties

It is hard to find people who don’t like varieties in the food they eat, activities and even most importantly – their job. Companies make the mistake of keeping a man for years doing the same thing over and over again. Rotating duties seems a sensible way of keeping workers alive to their duties.

3. Unclear Career Path
Most employers are selfish and not really interested in their workers’ career plans and progressions. Those who have such plans are not truthful to the implementation. The few companies where these plans work testify to the effectiveness of such practices and have stood for ages. Wonder why there are not many old Nigerian institutions? It would be sensible to make this an important part of the company policies such that each employee knows what is expected of him and where he will be in years to come if he keeps to it.

4. Hazy Performance Measurements
Organizations have different ways of measuring their employee performance using different terms like KPI, IPF, etc. The bad news is employees think they are very subjective ways of measuring their performance and that their managers cheat them. I bet HR practitioners are yet to understand this part of their job very well and it continues to be a big problem. A situation where companies decide from the start that only a certain percentage must score A and B even before carrying out the assessment does not make any sense and the smart workers of last year who were not favored will definitely have a rethink for the next year.

5. Compensation
This is a big issue especially in the public sector where we have civil servants and teachers. Teachers are the worst hit by this as they have no one to give them any ‘encouragement’ compared to their civil service counterparts who regularly have someone ‘thanking’ them for expediting their files 🙂 lol. That is corruption and a matter for another day but it all starts from bad compensation packages aka salaries and allowances. Those of us with teaching parents would testify that our first salaries were most likely fatter than theirs after working for decades. Why would you expect so much from them. Sometimes, I wonder how they even managed to take care of us.

6. Motivation Theory
Some of the major motivation theories point out to the fact that some workers would be happy if simple things like understanding the need for self-actualization, responsibility, recognition etc and not only by the salary they are paid. Organizations who learned this secret reaps from it massively because their employees have the feeling of being a part of the growth and are proud of their achievements.

7. Leadership
This is a very important factor. If a permanent secretary resumes in the office at 8.00 am each morning, woe betides any staff who come late. A smart working leader also passes on a good work culture to his subordinates and they tend to follow in his footsteps. The greatest factor to a paradigm shift in the Nigerian work culture and many other problems is leadership.

Organizations are at a defining moment in their existence because they need to keep a dedicated workforce of not many people but efficient ones. Today’s post talks about the role of employers. In my next post, I am going to point to the fact that employees have more to lose by being mediocre in their daily duties.

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