KEYNOTE ADDRESS MS ANDRINA R. COKER DEPUTY GOVERNOR BANK OF SIERRA LEONE AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE

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1 KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MS ANDRINA R. COKER DEPUTY GOVERNOR BANK OF SIERRA LEONE AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE REGIONAL COURSE ON MANAGING HUMAN RESOURCE FOR ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS, ORGANISED BY WAIFEM FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, MARCH 12-16, 2012

2 Prof. Akpan H. Ekpo, Director General of WAIFEM, Directors of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Distinguished Facilitators and Course Participants, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. 1.0 INTRODUCTION On behalf of the Board of Governors of West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), it is my pleasure to welcome you to the opening session of the Regional Course on Managing Human Resource for Organizational Effectiveness. I hope you had a pleasant trip to Freetown and I invite you to feel at home and enjoy your stay here. Allow me to use this opportunity at the outset to commend the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) for its successful effort in building capacity in the sub-region over the past fourteen years. 2.0 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS Human resource management has to do with the personnel policies and managerial practices and systems that influence the workforce. Human resources and the potential they possess drive an organization. In today's continuously changing environment, organizational change impacts not only on the business but also on its employees. In order to maximize organizational effectiveness, human potential, individuals' capabilities, time, and talents, must be managed. Human resource management works to ensure that employees are able to meet the organization's goals. 2

3 There is consensus among the various contending schools of thought in human resource management that human resource can add value to organizations by being more of a business partner, than performing only the usual numerous administrative and legally mandated tasks. Organizational effectiveness depends on having the right people in the right jobs at the right time to meet the rapidly changing requirements. In this era of globalization, many organizations have come to realise the need to have a competent, knowledgeable and capable workforce in achieving sustainable competitive advantage. Without doubt, there are enormous capacity gaps in the public and private sectors in the countries of the sub-region. 3.0 PROBLEMS OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN WEST AFRICA the West African sub-region has witnessed tremendous challenges in human resource management especially in capacity building over the last two decades. The number of highly skilled professionals in the public sector is small. This depletion is primarily due to poor economic conditions, poor infrastructure and lack of the professional and technological environment conducive to self-fulfillment. Overall, the public sector has no competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining competent employees compared to the private sector. For instance, in The Gambia, the rate of attrition is leading to general apathy to work in the government sector by the younger generation. In the case of Nigeria and Ghana, the problem of an ageing population is plaguing the public sector with the ranks of retirees swelling dramatically, thus, increasing the costs of maintaining a pension system. Similarly, Sierra Leone and Liberia suffered the same plague as the workforce was depleted from the crisis that rocked both countries. Lower wages, loss of prestige and unchallenging job duties have prompted many young graduates as well as senior civil servants to choose a career in the private 3

4 sector over public service. Though this phenomenon does not constitute a net loss in capacity to a country as a whole, it must be put under check through the evolution of appropriate plans and programmes in order to engender a sustainable critical mass of human and institutional capabilities in the public sector necessary for national building. 4.0 THE WAY FORWARD Human resource development is among the factors that have stunted growth of our respective countries. To resolve the critical skill gaps in our public institutions, in particular, you may wish to consider the following approaches derived from best practices in some developed nations. 4.1 Providing Performance Based Salary To provide an incentive for better performance and stem the tide of brain drain from the public sector, our governments should adopt a flexible pay structure. A variant of this approach includes payment of relocation bonuses, retention allowances, etc. Recently in Nigeria the authorities introduced the payment of what used to be termed expatriate wages, to engage the services of selected highly qualified nationals who held lucrative jobs abroad. 4.2 Effective Public Relations for the Public Sector In this era of information technology, public relations play a pivotal role in creating a demand for one s products. As a sales pitch, public service should be construed as one such product. In this regard, our governments should employ the services of public relations experts to promote the unique selling points of government which include a progressive workplace, a shorter work-week, flexible working arrangements, work assignments, career development and national service that can attract national honours. Through this process, government departments 4

5 would be projected positively as desirable career locations and therefore stand in good stead to compete for job seekers. 4.3 Exchange between Public and Private Sector In order to enhance public sector professionalism, government should consider pursuing a private-public sector work exchange programme. Under this programme, government officials would swap places with their private sector counterparts for a specified period. This exchange would assist public sector employees to inculcate the work habits of private operators who are usually well focused on goal attainment. Also, it will help to introduce into the public sector business management methods that have worked well in private enterprises. 5.0 STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT the adoption of the afore-mentioned approaches is predicated on strategies that would enhance human resource management in the public service which include:- Introduction of professional ethics in the civil services; Managing knowledge for the future; Creating adequate training programmes; Personnel evaluation that is predicated on rewarding performance; Diversity and equal opportunity among workers and, An enabling corporate culture. 5.1 Professional Ethics in the Civil Service In order for the civil service to appear trustworthy in the eyes of the population that they serve, there is need to incorporate ethical values in existing regulations, to bring about transparency, accountability and probity in the conduct of public affairs. In particular, professional ethics to manage the interface between the political class and administrators should be in place. Undue interference in civil 5

6 service personnel administration by transient politicians has only served to politicize the bureaucracy, and worked against sustaining available human capacity and institution building in the public sector. Another approach to the ethical issues is to create an environment in which employees respect standards, feel comfortable about raising grievances and are empowered to work to their full potential. 5.2 Managing Knowledge for the Future Knowledge management is a vehicle for shared learning, common understanding of goals and values, use of a common language, and unified representation of an agency s mission. Thus, sharing knowledge with colleagues in an organization is emerging as a key factor in performance evaluation. In addition to generating and sharing knowledge, there is need to develop databases, principles and practical tools for the evaluation and development of skills and competencies. 5.3 Other Approaches and Challenges As we approach the implementation of the common currency project, countries in the WAMZ should begin to cultivate the concept of diversity and comparability in public sector jobs as a common challenge. The WAMZ agenda is expected to facilitate labour mobility in the sub-region in both public and private sectors; hence there should be a commonality of purpose in all countries in meeting the human resource challenges. Finally, regardless of the sector, product or service an organization provides, and no matter what its size, or location, it must procure the right mix of human resources in order to remain viable. Moreover, if an organization is to thrive and prosper, it must design programmes to develop human resources to its fullest 6

7 capacity and maintain an unwavering worker commitment sustained by high morale. 6.0 CONCLUSION I have only sought to sensitize you to the various issues involved in managing human resource for organizational effectiveness. I am sure that an exhaustive analysis of the issues would be provided by the excellent faculty placed at your disposal. I urge you to avail yourselves of the opportunity provided by this course. In concluding, I strongly urge you to make your participation in this course rewarding by taking every available opportunity to tap into the knowledge and experience of the eminent team of experts put together by WAIFEM. On that note, I have the honour and pleasure to declare open the Regional course on Managing Human Resource for Organizational Effectiveness. I thank you for your kind attention. 7

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