As a consequence of the treatment meted out to employees in the workplace, many are known to have become demoralized, disenchanted and frustrated. This rarely happens overnight.
Management, for whatever reason, sometimes tend to overlook these tendencies. Workers, on the other hand, react to what they consider to be a poor attitude exhibited by management, disregard for the workers’ welfare, and disrespect for both worker and human rights.
This is often the catalyst for poor worker-management relations. The poor relations often result from management’s refusal to listen, to be objective and/or to be decisive in their actions. Whilst all three are defining factors to which many can relate, it can be advanced that many a problem could be arrested if it were speedily addressed by management and not allowed to linger and become contentious.
It is this sometimes callous approach to matters on the part of supervisory and management personnel that becomes a cause for concern.
Of more immediate concern would be the non-proactive approach adopted by management to resolving issues at the workplace, whether there are matters of dispute, or those which are of supposedly personnel issues. The belief that matters would work themselves out is one that may guide the lack of aggression to treat to them.
While management have the scope, power and authority to make wrong things right, they need to act decisively if they are to avert or reduce incidence of antagonism, declining morale amongst staff, low productivity and even absenteeism. The easy way to correct these shortcomings would be for organizations to ensure that both supervisory and management personnel are exposed to leadership and management training.
Within both the public and private sectors, it is questionable as to the level of importance attached to training for persons assuming positions of responsibility. Within the public sector, in particular, where persons are appointed or promoted to positions, qualifications, experience and length of service are often used to determine suitability. All of these have a place in the making of the final determination, but it must be underscored that where an individual is placed in a position of the management of people, there are certain core skills and competencies that are a prerequisite.
None of this should displace the application of merit in the process of appointment and promotion. However, good judgement should dictate that individuals who are interested in assuming supervisory and management roles should have the ability to lead and manage people.
It therefore may be necessary to have a rethink of the criteria which should apply to the process for promotion and appointment to positions of leadership and management.
This ought not to be taken to mean that there should be rigid and inflexible systems developed. What would make for a better application of the process is to promote the need for leadership and management training, where individuals are predisposed to training in human relations, human resource management, communications and grievance handling and dispute resolution.
In an imperfect world, there will always be cries over pitfalls within any system which is introduced. It is the realization of these that makes it desirable for new measures to be contemplated to counteract the deficiencies. Management at the top and supervisory level has been plagued with persons who are not equipped with the tools to do the job. These are commonly described as “square pegs in round holes”.
Such persons are not to be blamed for their failures, as their success is squarely accommodated by the system in place. It would appear that the Public Service nurtures this; and so its problems with ineffective managers will live on unless the system is revamped to ensure that fully trained and competent people are available to assume leadership and managerial roles.
(Dennis De Peiza is labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.
Visit the website www.regionalmanagement services.com
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