RECENTLY I was invited on the ZBC News Hour programme to share my insights on results-based management (RBM) and how this approach can be instrumental in transforming the country’s economy.
People Management Issues with Robert Mandeya
In the past I have run a couple of training sessions with some government and quasi-government enterprises on the results-based management approach. As a former civil servant, we have been subjected to numerous training sessions on this approach.
However since its inception in 2005 the programme has failed to make impact owing to various challenges, some of which I will share in this installment. First I will give a background to this initiative. The system came about as a result of pressure for countries across the globe to reform policies and practices of their public sectors.
Admittedly the RBM system is a powerful tool that can be used to help policymakers and decision makers track progress and demonstrate the impact of a given policy, programme or project. It goes without saying that the RBM system across the globe has been triggered by the growing concerns and pressure from both internal and external stakeholders for governments to provide more tangible and demonstrable results.
The success story of the RBM system in developed nations led to growing pressures for developing countries to adopt the new system as a way of improving performance and upholding accountability. The system, if properly implemented, comprises a results-based budgeting (RBB) system, results-based personnel performance system (RBPPS) and E-Governance. Cutting across all these three is an integrated results-based monitoring and evaluation system (RBME) and a complementing management information system (MIS).
The above systems are deemed critical to assist government in conducting systematic programme planning, formulation and implementation which in turn is expected to improve the performance of government’s development initiatives.
However, the implementation of the programme in Zimbabwe has been an area of controversy with regard to issues of applicability benefits and drawbacks more so in an environment where there are several institutional, organisational and systemic weaknesses negating government efforts. Inspite of these assumptions, history has it that the RBM system, if properly implemented, can improve government performance.
Governments and most private organisations do not seem to have proper governance structures to support this system of management. This assertion is based on the apparent lack of proper corporate governance structures in most of government, non-governmental and private institutions. It is a trail of systemic structural defects involving selection of boards, composition of the same, to lack of appreciation by the implementers of the benefits of this system of management.
In government while there has been substantial appreciation of the RBM programme in general, there is still need to institute change management initiatives that will help transform the mindset so that officials can begin to understand and appreciate that the government is now implementing the programme for the purpose of managing for results and improving service delivery to the public. It therefore appears that although the new concept of RBM has been brought to the attention of many, there is still a feeling amongst the majority of employees that it is “someone else’s business”.
Another problem is that of resource constraints hampering training initiatives for the majority of employees to become conversant with the new concept. Owing to financial constraints, outreach training programmes could not be fully executed and hence training has been largely limited to top officials and heads of departments. The same problem was unearthed through documentary search where the central government Terminal Evaluation Report 2006 — 2007 expressed that although down line training has been conducted in six provinces, owing to financial resource constraints the same training could not be carried out in the remaining provinces as planned.
I will illustrate this through a story;
As revenue began to decline, this leader could not accept that the performance of the organisation was deteriorating.
(The decline was blamed on the incompetent talent hired by the previous president). The CFO was instructed to modify the way revenue was recorded so that declines were hidden. (Revenue was also credited in such a way that the president’s initiatives were seen to be successful while the ongoing efforts of the organisation were seen as deteriorating.)
Organisation metrics about performance were not shared with staff; the only thing discussed was each person’s individual performance metrics.
Reimbursements of expenses for his “favoured” direct reports were approved even though they were not consistent with company policies or financial guidelines. Similar requests for reimbursements for those in the “other camp” were denied. When challenged on these actions, the president claimed he had the right to put together his “own team”.
Promotions and pay increases were promised to people throughout the organisation to curry information, favour and support. Unless a staff member was one of his “chosen few”, however, those promises never came to reality. Soon the informal organisation picked up on this behaviour and passed the communication that “he will promise you anything but deliver on nothing.”
Focussing clearly on results, and making the links between inputs, funded activities and the results they should be leading to, reduces the potential for corruption — or simply indifferent thinking and wasted resources in decision-making and project implementation. When we are planning for results we do not fund just any activity that comes along. Nor do we continue to fund activities just because they have been done before. We fund what clearly contributes to the results we have identified as priorities.
Mandeya is an executive coach in human capital development and corporate education, a certified life coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org