With whatever understanding I have about the government and private sectors, the work culture in two sectors is quite different and in sharp contrast. Many persons join government and once made permanent tend to work less with substantially low productivity yet the system somehow continues to tolerate and carry on with them. As against this, a private company or employer would, in most situations, neither encourage nor tolerate for long a person who is unprofessional, inefficient and non-productive in the system.
Of course, one common feature in work places is that the senior executives and managers are usually more interested to see that a task is accomplished in a given time frame without much concern as who does it and how. In the process, if a person is slow or inefficient, he or she will be avoided with least or no work, while the one who responds well will be roped in so often to timely deliver the intended results. While most of the systems do cater for a mechanism of reward and punishment but managers mostly remain indifferent or hesitant to invoke these instruments, and very often for the personal reasons.
I do not say that these observations uniformly represent absolute picture of all organizations and eventualities but for a majority it stands true. I recall from my own experience almost twenty-five years back, while working as a time scale Group ‘A’ officer in an organization with more than two thousand serving officers and staff, I was handling administration, human resources and information technology which inter alia included systematic planning, innovations, execution and implementation of programmes. On a particular occasion, I was persuaded by superiors to decline the offer for deputation in the Central government lest these activities would suffer.
Apart from these areas, I was consulted or roped in several other routine work in the organization. This was despite the fact that there was no dearth of officers in the same grade. Finally when I left the organization after six years for a new assignment, my work was distributed among four officers in the same grade. Clearly a case where top management had no scarcity of officers but because perhaps they felt a particular person can deliver better and more conveniently, so why not make use of the opportunity and service available without any extra cost. The other possible reason could be that they do not have same faith or confidence on others' potential to deliver results.
Such a choice may for the time being serve the immediate objectives of the organization but clearly it is not the best course of action. Apart from the fact that by resorting to this practice the higher management fails to maximize or optimize the manpower potential in the organization, this may create dissatisfaction and conflicts among fellow employees. Besides, this may also act against the motivation and morale of others who may then deliberately tend to be uncooperative giving only sub-optimum output.
A good manager must endeavor to optimize output from all subordinates rather than involving and focusing only on those who are more responsive. It should not be forgotten that every employee in the organization draws salary and wages against certain discernible responsibilities and duties. So it is important that the work potential of each employee is carefully learnt by the managers and responsibilities and duties are accordingly given.
This reminds me of a Chinese proverb which says “if you suspect a man, don’t employ him, and if employ him, don’t suspect him.” One of my trusted colleagues used to say that only a man of worth can recognize worth in men. The chief lesson I have learned during the long years of civil service, is that the only way to make a man trustworthy is to start trusting him; and the surest way to make him work is to start giving commensurate responsibilities and duties with requisite faith and supervision. If you don’t do this and instead resort to discretionary approach of relying on a few trusted ones, you are doing more harm and disservice to the organization only to achieve your short term objectives and goal.