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The relationship between the Namibian Government and its employees is a very complicated relationship with many facets. The main goal of the Namibian Government is to succeed with the implementation of its National Development Plans in order to reach Vision 2030. Vision 2030 states “A prosperous and industrialised Namibia, developed by her human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability”. In order to reach our Vision 2030 government departments will need skilled, experienced and productive people. This assignment will thus focus on the relationship between Government and its employees, and how a Middle Level Manager can improve this relationship.
In South Africa the King III report embraces a triple bottom line principle where companies should balance economic (service) , social (people) and environmental (planet) performance (Meyer et al, 2011). This integration between people, planet and service is seen as key for any government to reach its Vision and Strategic goals.
As in most companies, governments also realize the importance of their employees. The training policy of the Government of the Republic of Namibia (1999) clearly states that it recognises that its staff members are its most important asset and therefore wishes to encourage them to develop skills, competencies and abilities for the benefit of the Public Service. The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have also developed a Human Resources Development Policy Framework for accelerated service delivery in the Public Service of Namibia (Feb, 2012).
It is thus clear that the Namibian Government has put in place the necessary policy guidelines to ensure a productive relationship with its employees, and it is now up to the managers to fully implement these policies. I will thus assess and evaluate the above policies and summarise the main action steps for a Middle Level Manager to improve this relationship.
Training Policy of the Namibian Public Service
The Government of Namibia regards staff Training and Development (T&D) as a vital component for creating knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable staff members to fulfil the demands of their respective roles, within their respective Government Offices, Ministries and Agencies (O/M/A’s). The objectives of the Training Policy (1999) are
to ensure that training receives a high degree of support on all levels, especially from top management;
to ensure that training is carefully planned, properly coordinated and sustained on all levels;
to recognise the fact that effective training can only take place when matching resources are properly planned and budgeted for, e.g. training personnel, equipment, facilities, material, etc.;
to establish an internal capacity for training in the Public Service
to offer training to all categories of staff and at all levels of the Public Service;
to ensure that training and development takes place within the parameters laid down by Government in policies and legislation; and
to ensure that training is offered to Namibian citizens employed in the Public Service (and in exceptional cases, where Namibians do not meet the requirements, to non-Namibians).
Human Resources Development Policy
In recent years the Office of the Prime Minister has realised that there is a need for appropriate strategies to strengthen the human resources capacity in Government. To facilitate this process, the Human Resources Development (HRD) Policy Framework for Accelerated Service Delivery (2012) has been created to provide a solid regulatory structure that will enable (O/M/A’s) to formulate sustainable HRD strategies and develop capacities in a focused and consistent manner towards achieving Vision 2030.
HRD Policy Framework Objectives (2012)
a. “To provide for a framework that fosters a working environment in which staff members learn and develop the knowledge; skills, and right attitudes, which enables them to maximise their performance, commitment, and contribution to the aims and objectives of the organisation for which they work, namely the Public Service.”
b. “To promote fairness in the management and administration of Training and Development (T&D) opportunities.”
c. “To ensure a positive return on the investment of resources into T&D activities in the Public Service.”
d. “To encourage the increased use of non-conventional T&D tools and techniques as well as out-of-the-box thinking in the Public Service.”
The Role of the Line Manager
The main role every manager must fulfil in the workplace is leadership. Managers often assume that because they are the managers, they are also the leaders and that their subordinates will automatically follow. However, position only denotes title, not leadership. Peter Northouse (2007) defines leadership as a process whereby one person influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. To be an effective leader, the manager must influence his co-workers in a positive way to reach the goals of the organization.
It is evident that the Middle Level Manager plays an important role in any organization. His or her main function is to put it simply – keep the employees happy, so that they are productive! To keep employees happy one has to address both their economic and emotional needs. In Government the Middle Level Manager has limited influence on the improvement of economic needs and must therefore concentrate on the emotional needs. The Middle Level Manager should thus focus on motivating and encouraging staff to improve their productivity.
There are many books and websites on how to motivate your staff. Some of my favourites are listed below (from www.ehow.com/tips-motivating-staff)
“Be kind to your staff. This may sound immature, but it is the main complaint of employees. If the boss is mean, then the co-workers also tend to be mean with each other and also with the clients”
“Be positive. Negative people spoil the atmosphere for everybody”
“Give appropriate compliments. People who work hard sometimes do need a word of appreciation”
“Give the pep talk. Words can inspire and motivate if used appropriately. A daily pep talk is usually ineffective, but if a manager gives them only once a month, they can be more effective”
It is clear from government policies that training is seen as an important role of the public service. Training of staff is thus an important function of Middle Level Managers. Most people think of training as learning, but training can also be seen as the systematic process of changing the behaviour and/or attitudes of people, in a certain direction to increase goal achievement within an organisation, as opposed to education which can be defined as activities which aim at developing knowledge and understanding.
Middle Level Managers should identify the performance gaps of their staff members and address them with the compilation of Performance Agreements and Personal Development Plans, as required by the Office of the Prime Minister. Staff development should also include for the provision of opportunities and courses for individuals to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes that help themselves to achieve personal objectives. Middle Level Managers should also ensure that staff members attend relevant training courses, receive induction and technical training, including mentoring and coaching, as is recommended in the Public Service Induction and Orientation Framework.
Question 2: Explain shortly each component of the Human Resources Value Chain and provide a clear explanation of your role and responsibility as a Middle Level Manager in each of the components.
The basic Human Resources Value Chain refers to the different functions that the HR team should fulfil in any organisation and consists of nine strategies and processes (MMDP Module 3, Study Manual). Although these strategies are normally seen as the functions of the HR department, the Middle Level Manager should understand the processes and actively participate in all of them.
hr-solution.jpgFigure 1: The traditional role of the HR Department (www.hrsolutions-uk.com)
The Human Resource Value Chain
“Human Resources planning refer to classic HR administrative functions, the identification of human resources requirements for meeting organizational goals. It also requires assessing the availability of qualified resources that will be needed. To ensure their competitive advantage in the marketplace and anticipating staffing needs, organizations must implement innovative strategies that are designed to improve employee retention rate and recruit new talent into their companies. Human resources planning is one way to help a company develop strategies and predict company needs in order to keep their competitive edge” (www.wisegeek.com). It is important that Middle Level Managers participates in the above planning process as they will have the best knowledge regarding the HR needs of their department.
“Recruitment refers to the process of attracting, screening and selecting a qualified person for a specific job. The stages of the recruitment process include: job analysis and developing a person specification; the sourcing of candidates by advertising or other search methods; matching candidates to job requirements; assessing individual skills; assessment of candidates’ motivations and their fit with organisational requirements by interviewing and other assessment techniques. Recruitment may be conducted in-house by managers, human resource practitioners or recruitment specialists” (www.wikipedia.org/recruitment). It is essential that Middle Level Managers participates in all the steps of the recruitment process to ensure that the best candidate is selected for the job.
Selection and placing
Selection is the process of gathering information for the purposes of evaluating and deciding who should be employed or hired for the short and long-term interest of an organization. The main objectives of the staff selection procedure are:
to ensure a fair and transparent competition for all posts
to ensure the selection of the candidates on the basis of relevant competence and expertise basis
you should refer to the Affirmative Action Policy as well as the National Gender Policy
a selection panel to ensure applicants are evaluated by more than one individual to minimize the potential for personal bias
It is vital that Middle Level Managers participates in the Selection and Placing process to verify that the correct procedures are followed and that the preferred candidate is appointed. Applicants who meet some or all of the preferred qualifications (e.g. experience) will have shorter assimilation times, are more competent and are able to take on advanced responsibilities sooner.
After you have appointed a person in a position, you need to introduce them to your organization and their role. This process is called staff induction. “A good induction training program ensures that new staff are retained, settle in quickly and be productive. Induction training is more than skills training. It is about the basics that veteran employees all take for granted: what are the shifts; where the notice-board is; what the routines are for holidays, sick leave, etc. New employees also need to understand the organisation’s mission, goals and values; personnel practices, health and safety rules, and of course the job they are employed to do, with clear methods, timescales and expectations” (www.businessballs.com/inductiontrainingchecklist.htm).
As a Middle Level Manager for new employees it is your responsibility to ensure that induction training is properly planned and executed. Even if head office (HR) deals with induction training – you must ensure that it is planned and organised properly for new staff members. An induction training plan must be issued to each new employee, and copied to everyone in the organisation who is involved in providing the training. Creating and issuing a suitable induction plan for each new employee will help them do settle in quickly and do their job better and faster.
“Employee Performance Management is defined as a process for establishing a shared workforce understanding what is to be achieved at an organisation level. It is about aligning the organisational objectives with the employees’ agreed measures, competency requirements, development plans and the delivery of results. The focus is on improvement, learning and development in order to achieve the overall business strategy goals and to create a high performance workforce” (www.peoplestreme.com/what-is-performance-management).
“Performance appraisals are essential for the effective management and evaluation of staff. Appraisals help with the development of individuals and improve organizational performance. Formal performance appraisals are usually conducted annually for all staff in an organization. Each staff member is appraised by his or her line manager. Annual performance appraisals enable management to monitor standards, agree on objectives and to delegate responsibilities and duties” (www.businessballs.com/performanceappraisals.htm).
“Managers and employees usually dislike appraisals and try to avoid them. To them the appraisal is intimidating and time-consuming. The process is seen as a difficult administrative chore and emotionally challenging. The annual appraisal is maybe the only time since the previous year that the two people have sat down together for a meaningful discussion. That is why appraisals are stressful – which then defeats the whole purpose. Here-in lies the main problem – and the remedy. Appraisals will be easier, and also more relaxed, if the manager meets with each of the team members individually and regularly for one-to-one discussion throughout the year” (www.businessballs.com/performanceappraisals).
Performance management is probably one of the most important tasks of the Middle Level Manager. Generally speaking, Middle Level Managers receive the instructions and goals from top Management, and it is their responsibility to implement them and reach the goals of the organisation. Performance agreements are thus a very important tool of the Middle Level Manager, in order to manage and monitor the performance of his or her staff.
Reward and remuneration
“Remuneration is the total compensation that an employee receives in exchange for the services he/she performed for the employer. Typically, this consists of monetary rewards, also referred to as wage or salary” (www.wordreference.com). In addition to salaries many jobs include some form of benefits e.g. a company pension scheme. The employee may subsidize the contributions made by an employee into a company pension scheme. The employee may also be able to benefit from other subsidized services such as medical aid and housing. The remuneration package thus consists of a range of payment methods and benefits which can be used as motivators by companies.
When most managers explain their organizations’ reward programs, they often focus on cash compensation. However, employees are not only motivated by money. Therefore managers should also consider how to communicate about and use the range of intangible rewards at their disposal as well as the monetary ones. According to McMullen and Stark (2008) the restaurant chain Applebee’s, does exactly this. Applebee’s identified four types of rewards (translating to the acronym REAL) that the company offered:
Rewards (financial compensation)
Engagement (ensuring work is fun and fulfilling)
Advancement (personal and professional growth opportunities)
Life (ensuring everyone has a healthy, balanced life).
In most cases Middle Level Managers have limited influence on reward no. 1, and should therefore concentrate on improving the other three rewards for their employees.
The term labour relations, also known as industrial relations, refer to the system in which employers, workers and their representatives and, directly or indirectly, the government interact to set the ground rules for the governance of work relationships (from www.ilo.org/safework/bookshelf).
According to Bendix (2000) it is common for managers to assume that all labour related issues should be assigned to labour relations practitioners. Thus, they expect them to deal with grievances, disciplinary action and to negotiate with trade unions. However, Bendix (2000) emphasizes that it is the duty of the managers to deal with matters relating to the employees under their supervision. The Middle Level Manager may seek advice from the labor relations practitioner, but they themselves should handle staff grievances, discipline employees and handle conflicts.
Employee wellness program
An employee wellness program is an excellent method to promote health and wellness amongst the staff of your company. Programs can encourage awareness of health related issues, improve morale, and can reduce the cost of healthcare in the organization. One important aspect of an employee wellness program is that the program is voluntary. The goals of the employee wellness program can include any combination of the following:
Improve general health and well-being
Improve the sense of being a team
Improve morale and attitude
Improve staff retention
“For the employee wellness program to run efficiently one person should be selected who will be responsible for coordinating the program. This person should be motivated and committed to leading a healthy lifestyle. In addition this person should be interested in promoting the employee wellness program and introduce the program to other colleagues and staff.” (http://wellnessproposals.com/wellness-articles/employee-wellness-program). It is my view that this person should be the Middle Level Manager, because it will show the employees that you care about them. An interesting suggestion is to make wellness participation part of the management performance review (http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/).
Question 3: Codrington (2010) provide us with 9 key trends that will shape the “New World” of work, briefly describe the nine trends and provide a critical discussion on the changes that will be required from you as a Middle Level Manager.
It is important that Middle Level Managers are aware of the changes that lie ahead. That way they can prepare themselves and prepare strategies to deal with the expected changes in the workplace. The Middle Level Manager will also need to upgrade his own skills and experience to deal with the new trends in the job market.
The 9 Key Trends
More older workers
“There is a growing gap between the aging population that is leaving the workforce and young workers entering it. The UNDP has estimated that the aging population worldwide is projected to rise from 11 percent today to 22 percent by 2050, meaning the number of people no longer contributing to the workforce will increase from 800 million today to about two billion over the next few decades” ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka).
It is a fact that in many countries more older people are staying in the work force after the age of 65. Retired workers are returning to employment due to financial pressures or because they find it personally rewarding. Employers should thus undertake to provide working conditions which will help retain older people wanting to continue working. However, many people do not plan to continue fulltime work as they grow older and would prefer to have flexibility and balance in their lives. Middle Level Managers could address the issues by providing a range of options, such as part-time work, contract work, or home-based work. Employees with adaptable skills will have a better chance of getting suitable work. More older workers will also need more health care. Middle Level Managers will have to take it into account when planning work schedules and budgets. Planning ahead can include giving courses at work or retraining of staff.
Key skills deficits across multiple industries
“Another worrying trend is that there is a large global population that does not have the necessary skills that is needed to be employable. Currently, jobs in the computing, IT and engineering industries are vulnerable to this skills deficit. It is important that educational institutions keep up with the current trends in the job market to ensure that the workers obtain jobs in industries that demand their skills most” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka). Middle Level Managers will have to identify these skills needed in the future and prepare accordingly. Possible solutions include sending staff for training courses and job attachments to gain experience. They should also look at incentives to retain the current skills and to attract new skills.
The increase in migration that took place in the last few decades has changed the composition of the workforce in many countries and raised an international and national debate about migrants in the labour market. The main reasons for the debate are threefold: First, labour market integration is an important condition for ensuring full participation by immigrants in the society. However, the scale of migration and racial, ethnic and religious differences of migrants raise new challenges. Second, in the context of demographic ageing, many countries are experiencing labour and skill shortages. Third, there is a perception that migrants compete with native workers, especially those from less advantaged groups (adapted from http://www.irle.ucla.edu/research/documents/ ). Middle Level Managers will need to evaluate the skills and qualifications of migrants and then employ them on a temporary basis. Governments will also need to strengthen labour standards for migrants. Middle Level Managers will also need to deal with the impact of race, ethnicity and class on immigrant acceptance and integration into the workforce.
More women in the workplace
“Confronted with the global lack of skilled workers, many companies will become more accepting of diverse employees, particularly older workers and women. Women have become an increasingly well-educated source of talent and have entered the workforce in ever greater numbers in recent decades. However, their talents are still often underutilized. This is especially true in societies with traditional views of gender roles” (http://www.ey.com/GL/Issues/Business-environment). Some Middle Level Managers believe women are the world’s most under-utilised resource; including more of them into work is part of the solution to many economic woes, including shrinking populations and poverty. Middle Level Managers will be challenged to provide family-friendly solutions for women who need flexibility for child care. Some solutions may include:
Staff working from home or telecommuting,
Flexible starting and stop times and flexible core business hours
Intermittent paid and unpaid work interruptions for child care
Unprecedented youth unemployment
In Macedonia, a third of the overall population is jobless, including 62 percent of the youth. In Armenia, youth make up one-fourth of the population. However, many job openings remain vacant despite an unemployment rate of 28.6 percent in 2008, according to the World Bank. Employers in both countries find that young people do not have the skills or practical experience required for entry-level positions. They also lack interview skills, networking groups, and opportunities to engage with local employers in a meaningful way (adapted from http://apyouthnet.ilo.org/news/tackling-the-skills-deficit). In Namibia many young people are leaving school without the necessary skills to find decent jobs. In order to address this issue Middle Level Managers will need to increase training capacity and create more internship positions.
Significant entrepreneurial start-ups and small businesses
According to Codrington (2010) both unemployed young people and an older generation looking for post-career alternative working options will stimulate a new wave of start-up businesses. Adding to this the expected growth in many emerging markets the global real purchasing power will quadruple by 2050. Governments will have to address the specific needs of these small businesses and Middle Level Managers will need to advise their organisations on the changing business environment. In future organisations will probably have to deal with many small companies instead of with one big corporation.
Blended lifestyles and flexible working arrangements
“During the last two to three decades, the relationship between company and employee has weakened, even in corporate cultures where loyalty was once prized. Fast-changing company needs and a drive to cut costs led first to more frequent layoffs and then to nontraditional relationships where the expectation was not decades of service, but only a few years. In a period of high unemployment, this new social tend is an advantage for the employer. But as the market turns, skilled employees should benefit. They would like a better understanding of their employment options and a greater say in how work is assigned, assessed and rewarded. Companies that fail to react to this change and do not succeed in redefining their employee value proposition, will fail to attract, retain or develop talent effectively” (http://www.management-issues.com/research/global-migration-the-new-management-challenge.asp). In order to mitigate these issues Middle Level Mangers will need to establish an upcoming leaders group (e.g. the think -tank), transfer management of local offices to local staff (decentralization), expose staff to global cultures, pursue a policy of workplace diversity and develop tailored career plans for staff members.
Since the start of the new millennium most of us are working with colleagues that span at least three, or even four generations. There is a high possibility that we will misunderstand each other’s behaviour. It is very easy to form a hurried and wrong impression of someone from another generation.
2000/2001 – Present – New Silent Generation or Generation Z (Gen Z)
1980-2000 – Millennials or Generation Y (Gen Y)
1965-1979 – Generation X
1946-1964 – Baby Boomers
According to her research Erikson (2009) found that generational conflict usually centers around four essential team activities:
“Choosing where and when to work. Members of older generations view work as a place, a location you go to at a specified time, say from 8:30 am to 5 pm. This synchronicity stems from a time when the nature of most work required that workers be present together, e.g., to run a manufacturing assembly line. Over time, the nature of work in most sectors has changed. Today most tasks do not require synchronous activities, yet many in older generations, continue to expect synchronous behaviour. Younger workers, in contrast, tend to view work as something you do, anywhere, any time. Many Gen Y’s consider the rigidity of set work hours a chronological mistake from another era.”
“Communicating among team members. Most Gen Y’s and X’s are comfortable using electronic communication. They text or post to social networking sites much more frequently than older colleagues do. However, the root of most technology-based team misunderstandings is not the technology; it is how team members interpret each other’s intentions based on communication approaches. Younger members are accustomed to rapid responses from peers, they are likely to feel frustrated and rejected if they don’t hear from older colleagues for a day or two. Team members from older generations may not only be uncomfortable with digital communication, they may even feel offended by a lack of face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice interaction.”
“Getting together. Boomers and Gen X’s are planners and schedulers while Gen Y’s are coordinators. When planning a meeting, Gen Y’s are likely to determine each other’s immediate coordinates, and then contact each other. Older colleagues would prefer to rely on pre-planned schedules, and may be annoyed by younger team member’s “spur of the moment approach”. To Gen Y’s, the extent of scheduling that goes on in most workplaces today seems stultifying and inefficient.”
“Finding information or learning new things. Boomers and Traditionalists are linear learners; they are inclined to attend training classes, read manuals and absorb the information before beginning with a task. Gen Y’s are largely on demand learners, they figure things out as they go, reaching out to personal contacts with relevant expertise for information or referrals, as needed. Gen Y’s are likely to be bored and turned off by a project that begins with a lengthy training phase. Gen X’s and Boomers may be annoyed by Y’s’ frequent questions and requests for input.”
The role of the Middle Level Manager will thus be to help everyone in the team understand the different perspectives and views of the various generations. The Middle Level Manager will need to decide which norms and methods will work best for his team depending on the different generations in his team.
Significant job losses among office workers, knowledge workers and professionals.
In the world of today unskilled tasks are becoming increasingly automated and companies are demanding workers with high-level skills, which is part of the reason why today’s global unemployment rate is at an all-time high. If you are an exceptional employee, your employer would like to retain your services. “In North America 32 percent of employers are concerned that some of their top employees may leave their organizations in the next few months as market conditions improve. To help retain workers, 14 percent are offering more flexible work arrangements, 14 percent are investing more in training, 10 percent are promising raises or promotions and 9 percent are offering more performance-based incentives such as trips and bonuses.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/worklife/job.market.trends/index.html). To tackle this workforce crisis Middle Level Managers will need to increase training capacity, improve retention and management of employees plus address concerns related to international migration. Middle Level Managers can also address and support the following:
Provide a good working environment.
Resolve any personal disagreements among employees in order to maintain a positive working experience for everyone.
Represent the employees at senior management level, so that outstanding employees can be recognized for their talents and potential.
Build the company and its capabilities by hiring staff as needed and by training employees
Improve the individuals within the company by increasing their talents and capabilities
Advance the careers of the promising staff members to retain them in the company
(Adapted from http://wiki.answers.com/roles_and_responsibilities_of_middle_management).
Question 4: Explain how mentoring and coaching as management tools can assist you as Middle Level Manager to continuously improve the performance of staff members.
It is widely accepted that the ro
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