Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Performance Anxiety

Last week, I came across an open letter to Mr. Vinod Rai, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Mr. Rai mooted for performance-linked pay for PSU bank managers at a certain lecture. In response, the author raised the issue of assured pay and promotions in the civil service and wondered why not such a scheme begin with the civil services.

Considering the paltry increase in pay one gets with promotions, I wonder if denial of increments and promotion would really be effective. Since promotions are usually accompanied by transfers, I have heard people who desisted from promotion due to personal commitments. Also, there are people who perceive jobs in the higher rung to be sinecure and those below to be more interesting. So there is every chance that someone may be actually happy to retain a post of his liking than be promoted to a post of his dislike.

What is more important is that right persons man the right jobs. Government is a wonderful place which not just accommodates but actually needs all kinds of people. There is a place for the hares to usher in change and there is also a place for the tortoises to maintain the status quo. And remember, status quo is not such a dirty word as many presume it to be. In large diverse country like ours, stability is as important as change. A good administration is all about finding the right mix of both.

Unfortunately, it is these status quoists about whom many complain. The complaints become shriller when the status quoists are posted in places where change is urgently required. The solution is not punishing them with a refusal of promotion or increment. It would do no difference because even at a lower rank unless he is posted to the right job, the desired results will not be achieved. The solution lies in identifying one's skill and style of working and posting him to a place where his skills would be utilized best.

P.S: I don't want any sweeping cynical generalizations that those who work for the Government lack skill.