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Plenty Talk and Discussions, Analysis to the point of Paralysis but no action, little or no results – Why?

In Trinidad and Tobago we have become known for discussion, dialogue and analysis. However we are falling short or should I say continue to fall short as a result of appropriate action strategies and more significantly implementation. We are failing our people due to being short on getting the job done and where we have set out to get the job done in many cases we are overspending and experiencing delays due to poor time management.

When I became a Minister of Govt I decided that I will try and change this. There is no reason why a private sector approach to govt could not work. There are many who are still doubting that at both the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Local Govt we got our projects done on time and within budget. But the records are there for all to see. For every project there is an Engineer’s estimate done by a consulting firm which is independent of the Ministry. During my time the bridges were done within budget and on time, and even ahead of time. A good example is the Coblentz Bridge in St Anns. There was so much negativism by the residents about our ability and in particular towards a southern based contractor prior to the project and yet it was done ahead of time and within budget.

Why were we able to get the job done. The answer is simple. Winning the Commitment of employees and Managerial anticipation and follow through. A Manager must never assume that having outlined the responsibilities for a job to the persons involved that it will necessarily happen on time and on budget. A manager must get a clear statement of the commitment of those entrusted to carrying out the project as to what they are going to do and how they intend to do it. In addition it is the responsibility of the manager to remove obstacles to performance and getting the job done. This involves regular communications and cross functional team work if the job is to be done.

Too many Managers are failing in their follow through and in their role as “problem busters” and blame their employees for failure. This is managerial incompetence. The only failure is that of the manager, which is a failure to manage. Managing is as much about anticipating the issues/problems which may arise and preparing to deal with them ahead. They may never arise but the role of the manger is to be pre-emptive. Many Managers do not see this as part of their role. And by the way, you don’t manage from the comfort of the air conditioned office. You manage best by being on the ground.

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