The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is in the midst of reforming the Performance Management System (PMS) to measure the performance of civil servants, and at the same time, ensure better accountability by working closely with senior executives.
However, there are already online accounts of civil servants complaining about their executives being more tough or even changed.
There is, hence, a sense of fear and uncertainty seeping through the mid and junior levels of the civil servants of the road ahead.
The concern coming from junior and mid-level civil servants is that these executives have been through a very rigorous process, where only around half of them survived, and so, some of them could end up over doing things, and become more draconian to get things done.
A linked concern is secretaries or even directors over exercising their powers or riding roughshod in the drive to get performance, and so end up gridlocking the system.
“Our expectation from the secretary, as per the Leadership Framework Survey (LFS) is, we expect them to have the drive to be able to do the work, and we expect them to deliver, and in doing that, they have to have good interpersonal relations with the staff. They have to manage the stakeholder’s expectations, they should be able to manage up, sideways and down. This is the character of a leader. Nowhere is it draconian,” said the RCSC Chairperson, Karma Hamu Dorjee.
She said the LFS lists the basis on which the supervisors, subordinates and the peer give their feedback, which is the framework, and that should be the guiding North Star.
Apart from the PMS, there is the Leadership Feedback System (LFS) where at the end of the fiscal year all supervisors, P1 and above, are subject to this where their supervisors, peers and subordinates assess them for leadership and management.
The RCSC Chairperson said the LFS system is a data point, and it will have an impact when senior civil servants apply for positions, but it will not be absolute as there will be certain caveats with the LFS.
The Chairperson said the LFS is a kind of check and balance if mid-level and junior civil servants feel their executives are being too draconian or not doing well.
However, she said that the same equivalent cannot be made if the executives are trying to improve the system and performance.
“Nowhere is it there that you have to be draconian and come hard on the staff. If your staff is not performing automatically then you have to manage your staff,” the RCSC Chairman said.
However, an official, here, pointed out that some of the people bringing up the issues online may also be people who did not perform and were held accountable.
Another concern is if senior civil servants are not doing right by clients and stakeholders and is making things difficult for them.
Here, the RCSC Chair said she encourages people to take it up with the management in the agency, and if that does not work then with the RCSC.
Even if people have issues with the Committee for Coordinating Secretaries (C4CS), itself, then they can appeal to the government or the RCSC.
One more concern is that civil servants, to be on the right side of assessments and performance, may make more rules or create more red tape to keep themselves safe, but it bogs down the system.
“There is that risk. The way I would look at it is that we are looking at leaders who can deliver services effectively and efficiently. As an executive, you should be able to balance risk also with service delivery. You have to find that fine balance. You expect that people at all levels of leadership and management have the abilities to navigate these challenges,” said the Chairperson.