Unsatisfied needs of civil servants imply poor public sector performance, not reforms

The problem of non-positive performance of civil servant trainees explains unsuccessful yield of public sector reforms in Ghana. The problem of non-performance of civil servant trainees and consequently poor performance of the public sector presumably informed the creation of a five-year National Public Sector Reform Strategy.

The five-year National Public Sector Reform Strategy provided by the NPP Government lead by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, aims to meet the burgeoning demand for the public sector to deliver high quality service to the public.

The central field of controversy about this five-year National Public Sector Reform Strategy is that successive government had embarked on various reforms to improve the public sector and did not achieve desired results. Therefore, it will be important to look into this situation a little more closely in the angle of training given to public servants involved in the implementation of those reforms, towards weighing whether the five-year National Public Sector Reform Strategy can positively change the face of the public sector.

The situation of not-yielding public sector reforms in Ghana, in the light of training shortfalls begins debates on causes of the situation. Although, training content for civil servants emphasizes organizational vision, mission, values and culture, task execution, the training for civil servants is increasingly not yielding positive outcome of training performance.

The author supports the argument that the public sector has unsatisfied labor force which is causing decrease in output. Evaluating along this dimension, it is clear that an organization full of unsatisfied and unskilled labor force cannot be expected to boost output in spite of system overhaul or asset acquisitions presented by public reforms.

Following the launch of the five-year strategy to reform Ghana’s public sector, are greater expectations inspired partly by the fact that human resource capacity of the public sector will be strengthened to improve public service delivery, while management initiatives will also be pursued to deal with apathy, resistance and reform fatigue which have been the bane of previous reforms.

 

 Public Administration and Poor customer experience 

Poor customer experience is related to poor delivery of public goods and services at a definite time. There is the challenge of work not done on time by civil servants to meet the needs of the public. Such observations is increasingly leading one to the possible conclusion that civil servants are unproductive compared to employees of the private sector. In the public sector, training is not defined to centre on public organization core activity value chain and specifics of who does what and at what time. Consequently, staff reports are also lacking on who did what in what week.

It is possible that a desired trainee behavior can be achieved by meeting the needs of middle and lower level civil servants. Maslow’s theory of needs or motivation is encouraging in the direction of training of a person to achieve mastery, recognition and skills. A good training context provided by a training leader will result into a positive work culture, through trainee behavior.

Good customer experience which comes with positive attitudes to a task, the adoption of a procedurally right approach and a motivated attitude to a task assigned as job to a trained person, will promote a buoyant economy and economic growth.

 

Appropriate training context vs working conditions

Working conditions is overly linked to performance of civil servants. A synthesis of periodicals, over the past 3 months indicates that the current President of Ghana believes that a modernized and improved working conditions are key to increasing productivity in the public sector. In this direction, he observes that there is the need for a systematic review of public sector compensation with the institution of a suitable performance based rewards system and improved work environment to guarantee increased productivity. However, Ghana’s human resources of civil servants needs improvement through appropriate training context of need satisfaction.

“Non-appropriate training context” has seemingly become completely irrelevant to Public mangers in charge of training middle and lower civil servants. A fully comprehensive empirical survey will reveal the full extent to which some civil servants has resorted to satisfying their diverse needs through corrupt practices.

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To curb the situation of corruption, in recent times, the Public Services Reform Secretariat completed a draft National Public Sector Reform Strategy to streamline public sector activities to check corruption. Appropriate answers need to be given to the question of why is corruption not curbed through the various seminar, workshops as well as training programs received by public servants.

Appropriate training context of need satisfaction is another issue. The proliferation of theories concerning motivation and performance provides impetus for the fact that lazy people need motivation. They need the drive to put them on the path of desired trainee behavior. They need a reason to carry on to do what they have been asked to do. They crave for a non-excuse to satisfy their needs.

Every civil servant of the middle and lower level in Ghana require satisfactory need tailored based training to increase their labor worth on a task to meet expected levels of performance, desired of their trainee behavior, for the efficient provision of goods and services to the public.

 

Satisfying the needs of public servants

Not satisfying the needs of lower and middle level civil servants through the offering of training is a non-appropriate training context. A civil servant need increase pay and rewards for the commitment of efficient and effective service delivery by way of training. The civil servants pay or rewards is limited as a result of limited demand of public goods and services due to public dissatisfaction of service delivery.

One cannot escape the fact that, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and Office of the Head of Civil Service (OHCS) ought to train civil servants in Ghana for effective and efficient performance. As it turns out, there are other institutions interested in public sector trainee performance policies. These institutions must provide an appropriate training context to satisfy the needs of trainees.

Unfortunately, the relationship between needs of public servant trainees and positive outcome of training has not been clearly established for a training context that addresses the needs of participants.  It cannot be over emphasized that outcomes of a civil servant’s training begins fundamentally with needs of trainee and training context provided by training leadership. This is to say that trainee needs should be at the centre of this new way of thinking among training leadership of the public sector.

A disagreeing challenge that confronts this new way of thinking is an action for Government to set up a Public Administration Research Fund to sponsor research candidates on issues dealing with training civil servants and performance. Although, June 23rd was recently observed as public service day to celebrate the virtue and value of the services in communities and in development, one expected that needs of civil servants would have been highlighted.

This is important considering the fact that civil servants function as key resources of a country; and the impact of trained civil servants, producing positive outcome of training for socio-economic growth of a nation in terms of administration and policy implementation is enormous.

A profound problem looms, if Civil servant trainees are not trained on the extent their productivity contributes to their remuneration and growth of the organization they work with. It is important for the government to be interested in a research that bridges the increasingly widening gap between negative outcome in training civil servants and the gigantic funding efforts of government in providing training programs, on the job training, in service and other institutional training programmes for civil servants, especially in the season of public sector reforms. Trainee needs taken seriously, points ineluctably to a recognition that civil servants require a training context that satisfy their needs.

 

Corruption

Not satisfying the needs of civil servants leads civil servants to indulge in corrupt practices. Increasingly corrupt practices have been observed in the public sector. In terms of a national preparation to eschew corruption, there has been attempts to implement a wide range of administrative and management rules and procedures to enhance staff performance. This is the case at the Head of Office of Local Government Service.  Recently, the Office of Head of Civil Service informs that the fight against corruption is at the centre of the government’s development agenda and an integral a part of development policies.

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An anticorruption agenda to address the issue of corruption in the public sector is welcoming but should be one that satisfies the needs of civil servants to curb or eliminate corruption.  To control corrupt levels of public servants requires control on satisfaction of the needs of public servants at perceived levels satisfactory to productivity levels expected. In this manner, the civil servants corrupt behavior can be improved to the point of elimination.

 

Government and headache of public sector productivity

At a deeper level, poor productivity of the public sector is working against its profitability.

Greater profits realized in a Public organization can lead to management decisions of employment generation. However, the prevailing norm is that positive outcome of training has positive effect on organizational performance. Civil servant’s expected trainee behavior such as honesty and dedication at a task contributes towards the execution of service delivery value- chain to meet the demands of the public by government public administration entities. Not satisfying the needs of lower and middle level civil servants is a paradigmatic of government not achieving public sector productivity.

There is continuum of overlapping assumptions relating to the question of why Government is not achieving public sector productivity. One assumption is that training in the public sector is robbed of appropriate training context of trainee need justification and guaranteed positive outcome of training. This lacking benchmark of satisfaction is the core of mediocrity and average performance in public sector organisations. Positive outcome of training is not related to need satisfaction of training participants for appropriate training context building.

However, excellent execution of public service provides the contributed part for customer satisfaction and sustained revenue generation levels. There should be unmistakable interest in the productivity of the public sector. This is in the right direction that in recent times, professionals of the Local Government service have been urged to lead the drive for the agenda of productivity through the decentralization process to create wealth for the nation’s development.

Advances in the area of achieving public sector productivity must have the character underlined by the fact that the civil servants behavior can be improved with defined period based training activities to satisfy the needs of civil servants. In this respect, the government should endeavor to provide an appropriate training context for lower and middle level civil servants by granting requisite research and development support on the fact.  The aim of such support should be to provide a path of logic for government to control positive levels of productivity.

 

 

Conclusion

Lack of an understanding on the perspectives of middle and lower civil servants about satisfying their needs though training, is creating problems in Ghana’s public sector. Non-successful civil service reforms indicate not meeting the needs of Civil servants.  Not satisfying the needs of civil servants breeds corruption and non-positive training outcome and affecting experiences of public sector productivity.  Perspectives of middle and lower level civil servants as actors in a training context needs to be solicited for insights on the linkages between needs of a trainee and positive outcome of training. Positive outcome of training include eschewing corrupt practices and trainee behavior that yields effective and efficient performance in the public sector.  Therefore, the quality of life of civil servant needs to be considered by training leadership.

 

The writer is researching on Productivity in Public Sector Organisations; through the lens of satisfying the needs of civil servants.  datbreau1@gmail.com

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