By Akintola Benson-Oke
Continued from yesterday
EVERY officer of the Lagos State Public Service with a ‘growth mindset’ will be personally invested in the resolve and effort to cut through Red Tapism in all facets of the public-facing segments of the public service.
It has been noted that, “Red Tape is an idiom that refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making. It is also regarded as the “collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming. Another definition is the “bureaucratic practice of hair splitting or foot dragging, blamed by its practitioners on the system that forces them to follow prescribed procedures to the letter.” Red tape generally includes filling out paperwork, obtaining licences, having multiple people or committees approve a decision and various low-level rules that make conducting one’s affairs slower, more difficult, or both.
We are confident that an officer with a ‘growth mindset’ cannot condone or enable Red Tapism. Officers with ‘growth mindsets’ will seek ways to cut through the Red Tape by making bold and innovative recommendations to the appropriate authorities and by seeking to deliver real and approved value rather than ensuring compliance with dead, regressive, and unwholesome procedural standards.
Third, every officer of the Lagos State Public Service with a ‘growth mindset’ will embrace the new customer-centred drive of the public service.
In a recent publication, PwC, United States, asked and answered a germane question as follows: “What does a customer-centred organisation look like? It’s an organisation that considers the customer in everything it does, from procurement to deployment to the entire customer experience. It also speaks to its customers in their own language and makes it easy for them to align their goals with the mission at hand.”
In the public service where the customer is the citizen, it has also been noted that government departments and public service organisations have clearly defined missions to provide a service to their constituents. Poor experience leads to complaints, that in turn, ultimately affects votes for public officials if service is consistently bad. And further that, “public service organisations that do not understand their customers’ changing needs, or worse, don’t care about their customers, will receive complaints that require additional resources to solve. This creates stress for both employees and customers and takes resources away from their core roles. The momentum and complexity of global change are challenging all organisations, including government agencies, to move faster, work smarter, use their resources more effectively and think further ahead.”
In making a case for a customer-centred public service, such as the Lagos State Public Service, Christopher Brown noted that, countless studies have documented the link between organisational culture and organisational performance. Specifically, many studies show that a customer-centric culture drives superior service and value for customers resulting in an experience that creates customer satisfaction and advocacy. This in turn drives exceptional organisational performance in terms of productivity, new product/service success, innovation and financial performance.
In the light of the above therefore, the advocacy of the mindset will include emphasis on the priority and importance of a customer-centred approach to the discharge of services in the Lagos State Public Service.
Fourth, every officer of the Lagos State Public Service with a ‘growth mindset’ will be ready and equipped to assume leadership of assigned tasks, including the ability and readiness to take initiatives and decisions that align with communicated objectives.
As has been severally noted by thought leaders, it is indisputable that organisations will make rapid progress and experience exponential growth only when its units and teams and departments are staffed by persons who understand what leadership means and who have developed their leadership potentials and have enhanced their performance skills. To such an organisation, no problem will be too complicated, no task too herculean, no challenge too huge, and no task too complicated for it to confront head-on.
Fifth, a ‘growth mindset’ by officers of the Lagos State Public Service will result in the pursuit and possession of critical soft skills that invariably positively transforms the officers’ attitude to work.
The first of the critical soft skills that a ‘growth mindset’ will enable officers pursue and that will positively transform officers’ attitude to work and the citizens they serve is the possession of good communication skills. This doesn’t mean an officer has to be a brilliant orator or writer. It does mean that officers with a growth mindset will seek to express themselves well, whether it is writing a coherent memo, persuading others with a presentation or just being able to calmly explain to a team member what is needed.
Another critical soft skill that a ‘growth mindset’ will enable officers pursue and that will positively transform officers’ attitude to work and the citizens they serve is the ability to work in a team and collaborate. Today’s institutions want people who play well with others and can effectively work as part of a team. According to Lyne Sarikas, the MBA Career Center Director at Northeastern University, “That means sometimes being a leader, sometimes being a good follower, monitoring the progress, meeting deadlines and working with others across the organisation to achieve a common goal.”
Yet, another of the critical soft skills that a ‘growth mindset’ will enable officers pursue and that will positively transform officers’ attitude to work and the citizens they serve is adaptability to different situations. This is especially important for more-seasoned professionals to demonstrate, to counter the often-erroneous opinion that older workers are too set in their ways. Again, as quoted by Larry Buhl, Lyne Sarikas opined that “To succeed in most organisations, you need to have a passion for learning and the ability to continue to grow and stretch your skills to adapt to the changing needs of the organisation.”
Finally, an important critical soft skill that a ‘growth mindset’ will enable officers pursue and that will positively transform officers’ attitude to work and the citizens they serve is the skill to solve problems. Organisations such as the Lagos State Public Service wants people who can be left on their own to figure out how to resolve conflicts and avoid chaos and ill feelings. A ‘growth mindset’ will also spur the pursuit of skills that enable the identification of conflicts before they fester into full-blown crisis. Indeed, the ability to persuade, negotiate and resolve conflicts is crucial in discharging even the most basic functions of the public service.
The advocacy for a ‘growth mindset’ has everything to do with one’s attitude. Attitude is so important that most other coveted attributes flow from it. Shawn Ashmore says your “style is a reflection of your attitude and your personality.”
The change from a fixed to growth mindset is also intended to embed the culture of creativity and innovation across the Lagos State Public Service where officers are empowered and encouraged to proffer solutions to both operational and strategic challenges of governance.
*Dr. Benson-Oke, is Lagos State Commissioner for Establsihments, Training & Pensions.