Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Role of Public Manager explained with People and Performance Model in Bhutanese Context

Many similar People and Performance Models have been developed by the applied researchers attempting to link human resources management to the performance outcome. The academicians/researchers have made numerous contributions in the past decades which claim to reveal that the HR practices are positively related to performance (Arthur, 1994; Huselid, 1995). There is little doubt any more that there is a clear connection between the way people are managed and organizational performance (Purcell, 2003). However in the scholarly publications, it is acknowledged that till now existing work fails to address or explore the exact empirical processes how HR practices may impact on performance (Harney & Jordan, 2008). It remains true that little is known about the mechanisms by which HR practices translate into competitive success (Savaneviciene & Stankeviciute, 2010). Due to the lack of understanding on mediating variables and their effect on HRM-Performance linkage the existing gap in explaining this link is referred to the “black box“(Boselie, Dietz & Boon, 2005). This paper while accepting the importance of Human Resources practices will discuss the role of public managers in eliciting and sustaining optimal performance from the people and what are the limitations the managers have in functions of Human Resources Management.

Though there are various theories attempting to find out what human resources strategies led to high performance outcome which is highly subjective, the relation between HR strategies and performance outcome will be explained using People and Performance Model. Interpretation of the size of the effects is as difficult as different studies linked different combination of practices and different measures of performance but they suggest that as much as 20-40 percent of the productivity difference between the firms may be accounted for difference in human resources strategies (Armstrong, 2009). Huselid(1995) found out that ‘productivity is influenced by employee motivation; financial performance is influenced by employee skills, motivation and organizational structures,’ after the ‘analysis of the responses of 968 US firms to a questionnaire exploring the use of high performance work practices.’ As stated earlier, various human resources strategies can be adopted by managers to enhance the human resources performance. As shown in the P&P model, one of the most important theories used to explain human resources outcome is Ability, Motivation and Opportunity (AMO) Model developed by Ölander and Thøgersen (1995). AMO theory explains the strategies used by managers to sustain optimum performance from their people. In the research done by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; the AMO Theory, role of management or line managers and other aspects of performance of model is explained succinctly. The importance of necessary ability cannot be undermined. The person must have skills, experience and knowledge to do current as well as future task.

The role of public managers or line Manager in motivating the human resources is crucial. The line manager or management plays a major role in determining the human resources outcome. The line managers must learn to assess the ability of employees, motivate the employees and provide opportunity for within HR practices framework of the organization. The manager who can successfully apply AMO theory can maximize the performance outcome. Vroom (1964) has come up with relation between performance output and motivation and ability.  He stated that ‘the effects of motivation on performance are dependent on the level of ability of the worker, and the relationship of ability to performance is dependent on the motivation of the worker.’ It also simply means performance is equal to ability multiply by the motivation. However, ability without motivation and motivation without ability hardly comes to effective performance.
The AMO model goes a step beyond by asserting that ‘performance is a function of Ability + Motivation+ Opportunity to Participate. HRM practices therefore impact on individual performance if they encourage discretionary effort, develop skills and provide people with the opportunity to perform’ (Armstrong, 2009).

The ability, motivation and opportunity also act as drivers of the discretionary behavior. Discretionary behavior means making the sorts of choices that often define a job, such as way the job is done-the speed, care, innovation and style of job delivery (CIPD, 2002). In other words, employees must have certain discretionary room to perform the job within the broad reference of job design. For example, Miss Choki is a telephone operator. Her job is to receive the call. She must have discretion to say politely, smile etc without detailing order like computer programming by the managers.  The line manager uses the AMO model to enhance HR outcomes within framework of organizational HR practices. The improved HR outcomes result into discretionary behavior. The discretionary behavior led to the improved organizational outcome or performance outcome.

Then what really are the Ability, Motivation and Opportunities with reference to the HR practices? Does manager really has any role in it? Ability can be social skills, technical knowledge and work experience that a person as an individual has. Ability can be investigated while recruiting. The manager or even public manager as an immediate boss can assess the person after recruitment. Through proper coaching and teaching, the ability can be mastered. The manager can further suggest the training and development needs of the supervised to the management or HR committee. Motivation can be reward for the job well-done. The reward either in the form of money or otherwise can work as incentive for work to be done and discretionary beneficial to the sector to be used. The manager can discretionary reward them though liberal financial rewards or foreign training as permitted by HR practices. CIPD (2002) found out that pay satisfaction, career opportunity and work life balance as some of the motivational factors. Even simple thing as ‘the extent to which their line manager treats them with respect’ plays crucial role in motivating. The employee also need to opportunity to participate like ‘the opportunity to discuss training and development needs (CIPD, 2002).’

The functions of managers are very important. It goes beyond ‘implementing, enacting, leading and controlling. The managers must also play vital role with AMO framework of HR Practices. But the role is not restricted to AMO model. Manager in fact plays a complex role. The role of manager to motivate high performance within organization HRM practices cannot be undermined. In fact line managers are first contact of the workers to communicate, get orders and provide feedbacks. CIPD (2002) came out with four broad roles of manager after studying 12 companies.
·         As employees themselves working in what are nearly always stressful and demanding jobs, immediate line managers and team leaders have particular needs for training and development, career expectations and support from the senior management.
·         There is a requirement for well-designed, consistent and appropriate HR policies for managers to apply. If job is to bring policies to the life, there must be polices in the place.
·         The organization must have found the way of coping with the inevitable tensions between short-run and long run performance and between financial, technical and social requirements. Thus use of a balanced scorecard was helpful in some of our companies, but the balance between the segments needs to be monitored carefully. Use of balanced set of measures of performance against targets can be helpful to the line managers.
·         An overall sense of purpose in the organization plays an important role in binding the people into the firm and setting the understandable goals which help set the boundaries separating what is productive and useful behavior from what is not.  

Study conducted by Carol Kulik and Hugh Bainbridge (2005) found out that the ‘in most organizations, the line manager is primarily responsible for day−to−day people management activities such as employee disciplinary action, coaching, performance management, and promotion decisions.’ Kulik & Bainbridge (2005) also stated that ‘human resource manager has primary responsibility for those activities that involve dealing with outside agencies (eg unions or regulatory agencies) such as industrial relations and workers compensation’. This clearly means as guided by the organizational HR practices, which most are written and approved either by legislature or executive or both, the manager has certain room while implementing the practices. It also means that the public manager and Human Resources Manager has clearly defined role. One could succinctly deduce that role of human resource manager is most long term development of human resources, in calculation of organizational culture etc. while the public manager are concerned with day to performance, promotion, values and motivation of the subordinates. CIPD (2002) further validates the role of manager as it stated the role as applying ‘most policies and practices related to people management.’ The roles also ‘become much more pronounced in recent years with shift towards individualism in the employment relationships and the trend towards devolving the application of HR management to the line (CIPD, 2002).’ Behn (1998) says public managers not only implement mandated policies but use their own expertise, their employees’, and that of outside experts to figure out what policies mean, how best to implement them and what would be a good policy outcome (Behn 1998) whereas Khademian & Feldmean (2005) said that managers focus on the application of managerial skill and substantive expertise to enhance public policy outcomes. The challenge for the public manager is to build relationships that are appropriate not only for generating ideas and plans, but for bringing workable programs to fruition (Khademian & Feldmean, 2005).

In context of Bhutan too, the role of manager has become crucial as more and more of the public sectors have been either autonomized or power of central personnel agency has been decentralized. Even the in civil service, the role of public manager has become crucial as the central personal agency devolved most of its power. As per the Bhutan Civil Service rules and regulations 2012, the role of public managers has just broadened but it will be up to public manager to either demand for more role or reduced their roles. According to the study conducted by Carol Kulik and Hugh Bainbridge (2005) of University of Melbourne in Australia, ‘70% of respondents reported that line management involvement in the people management activities in their organization had increased.’ The report also mentioned that ‘in general, line managers would prefer less responsibility for people management activities than they currently have (Kulik &Bainbridge, 2005). This show that public manager are not only burdened with overall outcome of unit but also having to manage personnel and performance.

In Bhutan too, Royal Civil Service Commission as a central personnel agency used to recruit every people that are needed in the bureaucracy. However, after 2008, many organizations were either given independence as prescribed by constitution or autonomy so that bureaucratic red tape is reduced and performance are enhanced. The organization like Royal University of Bhutan and Royal Monetary authority today make their own plan and recruit staff under them. Except for constitution post holders, the administrative support staffs are still under central personnel agency in the constitutional organization.

But today, the public manager enjoys more autonomy than before. The line department/ministry can analyze their HR needs and requisition the needs to central personal agency (CPA). Once the CPA approved, line ministry can recruit and appoint the person below S1 level as the chapter four of BCSR 2012. The regular promotion till P2 can be done by line organization which means public manager has a greater say as per chapter 13, BCSR 2012. The performance of the employee can be evaluated by manager or supervisor till the executive level as ingrained in chapter 12 of BCSR 2012. Even the secretary to the government is evaluated by RCSC only after consultation with concerned minister. The training needs, strength and weakness are scrutinized by managers. Inter sub-group transfer till P2 can be done by the line agencies. The disciplinary actions of which are major or minor can be initiated by the HR committee of the agency till P1 category. However, the agency can’t be appellate authority for those civil servants from P5. The Commission shall assess the general training and higher education (degree and diploma) needs of civil servants, formulate projects and implement them both within and outside the country (BCSR 2012). To motivate the staff, manager or manager-in-chief can approve short term training after assessment after within limitation of number of times prescribed by the CPA. These shows there progressive steps taken place to authorize the agency which also means the managers are empowered to motivate, assess and develop the people.

Tiscini & Martiniello (2011) stated that public manager should use ‘managerial instrument to able to stimulate efficiency, effectiveness and performance of the personnel. However, the role public managers are also limited in some ways’. To increase productivity of the public employees, it’s important to know what motivates them.Perry (1996) has constructed four dimensional conceptualizations of public service motivations namely;
·         Attraction to policy makings
·         Commitment to public interests
·         Compassion
·         Self-sacrifice
Of four dimensions, only first two dimensions seems inculcate-able under certain period of time; the attraction to policy makings and commitment to public interests. As the job of public manager is to manage policies and projects involving various stakeholders, the performance evaluation of the employee will be challenge. The public managers are accountable to the public, political boss and central personnel agency which may have conflicting expectations which will add to complexities and performance of the job of the unit/sector. As he will be busy harmonizing the conflicting orders and expectations, his ‘ability to listen and to be helpful towards colleague (Tiscini, nd)’ may decrease.  The public manager can’t work use AMO criteria at his will. He has to act within guidelines provided by the central personnel agency. On top of that he too has to heed the direction of political boss who is directly answerable to the public as public vote politician in for fixed term. The politician may not have the idea of needs assessments of the employee. All he will want is outcome for his next election. In Bhutan’s context, the manager can motivate and develop his staff by sending him/ her to training but it is subject to final approval of central personnel agency and finance approval of executive or politicians. While recruiting the person, the manager can’t go beyond criteria outlined in Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations. Despite constraints public manager motivate the staff through provision of guidance, communication, delegating the responsibility authority which is within purview of manager’s authority. Although, ‘line management involvement in the people management activities in their organization has increased (Kulik & Bainbridge, 2005),’ the involvement of HR manager has not decreased over the years because with new times emerged new responsibilities for HR manager. Thus ‘developing HR capacities requires investing in the training and development of both HR specialists/ professionals with staff management responsibilities (Bach, 2001).’ Therefore one can argue that role of public manager is limited or not limited based on contingency needs of the organizations as opposed to universalist view.

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