Some Considerations in raising Productivity
By Parry R. Bellot
Continuous training along with updates on particular job orientation is obviously a basic requirement. . However, one is more and more concerned that, in too many cases, formal training has little impact in terms of productivity in Dominica. Most trainees seem to view it as merely an excuse to demand a raise in pay. They do not relate it to the expected and necessary increase in efficiency, in productivity, in output…
Perhaps what might be more useful (especially at junior levels) is more on-the-job practical exposure to better ways of doing things, and in most cases, this means some time spent with a larger organization (not too large as to be inappropriate for comparison…)
The principle of attachment (sometimes described as internship) is good at all levels, from managers to messengers. It is especially necessary in the case of secretaries, administrative staff, etc. who in most cases still do not , for example, appreciate the importance of writing a telephone message; of placing a reminder on someone's desk; of following-up until the matter is dealt with, etc. etc.
While the Private Sector generally is not much better, the Public Service in the region (Dominica not excepted) remains a classic example of (and pardon again my frankness) unacceptably low productivity (especially in providing the services paid for by taxpayers). And why is it so low? Simple: how many public service "managers" have had experience in doing things quickly? How many learnt the ropes by working in any efficient institution? On the staff, how many got good direction from the top? How many were inspired by the work of their colleagues?
Alas, it is a sad story, one that is almost depressing if one is to accept the roughly 20% of efficiency at which the service operates in Dominica. (Note well the figure is not based on a scientific study but on studied observation; it is meant as a guide, to dramatize the problem…) As hinted earlier, our Private Sector is little better: Privately-run companies here, big and small, average now about 40% (again, not scientific). There used to be some outstanding exceptions (the banks, the telecom companies, etc) but in recent years they too have dropped considerably (talk to their customers...)
Consider the difference it would make if the country's organizations generally performed at about 60% in terms of efficiency: Key areas such as jobs, incomes, standard of living, quality of life, etc. etc., would all improve by almost double! Yes, the average public servant would be earning $3,000 to $5,000 a month and any government would be happy to meet union's demands for significant pay increases. The government of the day would know it was well earned!
Clearly, there is a need for some major motivational initiative to help improve things. Our "Productivity Year" focus should help, both in stimulating discussion and educated concern about the issues – but more importantly, directly tackling some of the main obstacles (attitude, bureaucracy, politics, worker conditions, inspirational managers…) to improving productivity and thus our competitive position in so many areas
Finally, consider this; even if our own standards are low by our life-style choice, we surely owe it to our children and their children to build them a society that is comfortable, competitive and somewhat compatible with developed countries – such that our countrymen would no longer have to seek in such large numbers personal gratification in other countries!