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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New benchmarks for civil servants

17:08:40 - 19 March 2008

Government on Wednesday launched a performance management system for the 150,000 strong civil service in a bid to improve efficiency and effectiveness for improved quality services.

Thouse O’dalla, deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet immediately called on civil servants to change the way they approach work, saying it was time to shift from merely following prescribed procedures to focusing on achieving results and ensuring outcomes.

Speaking during the launch of the system in Lilongwe, O’dalla said the performance management is about constantly seeking to raise the standard and quality of service delivery to meet the expectations of ordinary individuals.

“In the Malawi scenario, it is raising the bar of excellence in the delivery of public goods and services to the nation. It is the process of communicating organisational mission, and objectives to all stakeholders, a setting and reviewing performance targets to measure the achievements of those objectives and ensuring that all these activities provide a basis for continuous performance improvement,” he said.

O’dalla also said the system is expected to facilitate the provision of feedback to employees on their performance, open up communication between managers and their employees and encourage and reward strong performance while holding people to account for poor performance.

The deputy chief secretary said the development of the system compliments the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) (2006-2011) which the government launched last year.

The MGDS is a detailed articulation of the country’s vision as we as strategies for achieving the goal of transforming Malawi from relative poverty to being a middle-income industrial nation by the year 2020.

O’dalla therefore said the system requires sustained commitment from all managers as it demands setting aside a significant part of time to plan with subordinates, support them, review progress and complete forms.

“Each ministry or department must have a strategic plan which is relevant and up to date, and which articulates the outputs to be achieved over a given period. Strategic plans should be accessible to employees, who should be adequately oriented on their contents, so that they are aware of what they are expected to contribute in order to achieve these outputs,” said O’dalla.

O’dalla also said the system demands that each employee should have an up to date job description, among other aspects, outlines the key duties and responsibilities attached to the job, saying this is important because it is on those functions that work performance is going to be assessed.

“The public will trust and respect its civil service if it delivers first class services to them,” said O’dalla.

The government of New Brunswick, Canada, helped the government of Malawi develop the system and is supporting the preparatory work for its implementation.

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