With the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) completing the assessment of 62 executives at the Secretary and Director General level, and finding 50 percent of them not meeting expectations, the next lot of executives who will be assessed will be 59 Directors in the 10 ministries and various autonomous agencies minus the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB).
A RCSC official, on the condition of anonymity, said that the approach for assessing the Directors will be the same as in the case of the Secretaries and DGs. The official pointed out that it will not be fair to evaluate only the Secretaries and DGs at the Executive level and leave out Directors as they are also executives.
The assessment starts in February 2022 and will be done by March 2022.
The official clarified that it has not been pre-decided that 50 percent of Directors will be managed out as the numbers of who do not meet expectations will depend entirely on their assessments.
This in effect means that if the Directors do well then lesser numbers could be managed out, and if they do not do well then more numbers could be added.
The panel doing the assessment will largely be the same with some slight changes. Supported by the RCSC, the assessment panel that assessed the 62 Secretaries and DGs included local and international assessors from the public and private sectors.
The Directors who will be assessed will be all Directors who are civil servants in the 10 ministries, autonomous agencies, Parliament and even Constitutional Bodies like the Anti Corruption Commission, Royal Audit Authority, Royal Civil Service Commission etc.
The only exception being made in this whole exercise by the RCSC is for the ECB which using its Act had managed to delink itself from the RCSC in the time of the first government. All ECB staff are not treated as civil servants while they are public servants.
It has also been clarified that both in the first and second round RCSC executives are also being assessed. For example, in the first round the RCSC DG was assessed along with other DGs and this time it will be the same in the case of Directors.
The RCSC had declined to share even the agencies from where the 50 percent are being managed out or the break up of Secretaries and DGs being managed out though it is understood that there are all categories of senior executives being managed out.
In the first round, the people who were assessed were the 10 secretaries to the 10 ministries and then secretaries to agencies like Gross National Happiness Commission, National Assembly, National Council, Dzongkha Development Commission, National Environment Commission.
The DGs were also from the 10 ministries and all other agencies.
The 20 Dzongdas were also assessed as part of this group since they fall under the DG rank.
The official said that the whole assessment is in line with the RCSC Act which empowers the RCSC to take steps like this.
When asked about if and when there would be assessments for officers from the P 1 rank and below the RCSC official said that the RCSC would like to focus on the job at hand.
In the Civil Service system, the RCSC directly manages the executives while other ranks are managed in a decentralized manner at the ministry level.
When asked what is the main aim of the assessment, the official said that it is to build leadership as good leadership in an organization will be key for an effective and efficient delivery of services.
One question being posed by people is if these executives are being managed out then how did they reach this position in the first place, and what does that say about the civil service system.
The RCSC official said that the people in the executive position were selected based on their past performance while the assessment is for their current performance.
The official said that the RCSC is revamping its HR systems so that it can differentiate between performers and others.
One question that can crop up from those being managed out is that they were assessed during the pandemic when they cannot perform like in normal times.
Here the RCSC in a formal reply said, “The process included assessments based on the executive’s work plans; responses to realistic work related scenarios; leadership feedback provided by their supervisors, peers and subordinates; and performance during group and individual interviews. The process focused on assessing qualities that will be critical for addressing the challenges Bhutan will face going forward.”
As per the 2020 Civil Service Statistics there are 154 people in the Ex 1 to Ex 3 category while the current assessment of Secretaries, DGs and Directors cover 121 of them in total leaving around 33 out.
Here the RCSC explained that these 33 are people who are on secondment in hydro projects, SOEs etc and they will be assessed when they are back in the civil service.
The RCSC in January 2022, completed its assessments of 62 executives at the Secretary and DG position levels.
The RCSC said it started with the civil service leadership, because it is the leaders who drive results and exemplify accountability in the organisations.
The panel apart from the above assessed the executives’ personnel management instincts, their ability to approach issues from a higher vantage point, collaborate with one another beyond their organisational boundaries, as well as their drive and ability to deliver results.
The panel also assessed their ability to prepare themselves, their teams and organisations for the future.
The panel’s assessments guided the Commission in making several critical decisions.
The panel found that about 50 percent of these executives failed to meet these expectations.
The RCSC is in the process of managing them out. RCSC said those who demonstrate that they are not able to perform will be moved out of their current positions to make way for those who are more capable. This could include managing them out to lower-level positions, and offering them the option of resignation or retirement.
The seven percent who have exceeded expectations will be assessed further for their suitability to assume expanded roles.
“Ultimately, we want to better reward and recognise those who are able to perform,” said the RCSC.
It said regardless of the outcome of this assessment, RCSC will continue to monitor all executives’ performance closely.
“Those who perform on the job will be rewarded and recognised. Underperforming officers will be managed out,” said the RCSC.
RCSC said it remains committed to ensuring that the Civil Service leadership has the necessary competencies and foresight to navigate the complex challenges that we are grappling with as a nation.
It said Bhutan needs leaders with competencies that can accelerate our development and secure a better future for our children.
RCSC acknowledged that these assessments have reinforced the need to continuously review the Civil Service’s personnel management approach and processes, so that it can effectively differentiate the better performers from the underperformers.
RCSC said it is reviewing and revamping its system and approach to shift the entire Civil Service to a more effective personnel management system to support Bhutan’s transformation
The RCSC said it has been continuously looking at ways to improve performance evaluations and assessments, which includes a dynamic system for career progression and exit management. “This is why we embarked on this leadership assessment exercise for our Secretaries and Director-Generals,” said RCSC.
RCSC said it is currently in the process of reaching out to the Secretaries and DGs individually to communicate the outcomes to them. It said it is therefore not appropriate for them to disclose the details.