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Developed capacities: Do more with less

By Akintola Benson-Oke

THE Lagos State Government under the able and effective leadership of His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has long demonstrated its full and unalloyed commitment to the transformation of the Lagos State Public Service into the leading public service in Africa.

To this end, the governor has approved, and the Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions has delivered, a number of targeted trainings aimed at exponentially expanding the capacities of officers of the Lagos State Public Service.

Akinwunmi Ambode

It is therefore gratifying that third parties have taken notice of the commitment of the  State government in this regard and, no less an institute as the Nigerian Institute of Training and Development has decided to confer an award of excellence on the Lagos State Government in recognition of  government’s commitment to capacity development.

On behalf of the Governor and the entirety of the State government, I wish to express our sincere appreciation for this recognition by the Nigerian Institute of Training and Development, NITAD.

In our view, NITAD plays a crucially important role in Nigeria’s human resources development and management ecosystem.

The mission of this professional Institute to improve the practice of human resources development in both the public and private sectors of the economy is commendable and vital. Furthermore, the Institute’s commitment to enhance effectiveness, efficiency and productivity as well as to promote high professional standards in human resource development, utilization and evaluation in Nigeria has attracted the admiration of many.

It is notable that NITAD has, during the period of its existence, facilitated the exchange of knowledge, skills and experience for those engaged in training and development and for staff in different organisations. The innovative means by which the Institute has sought to promote the achievement of a better utilisation of human ability and potential in business, industry and government are also commendable.

Furthermore, the Institute’s promotion of interactions and members’ exposure through a strong affiliation and co-operation with the International Federation of Training and Development Organizations, IFTDO, based in Geneva, Switzerland is very crucial and forward-looking.

One must also commend the Institute’s penchant for stimulating discourse on topical issues in the human resources space. This is a worthy endeavour and we do hope that the Institute will continue to promote such healthy and consequential discourses.

This is why the theme for the Institute’s 26thAnnual Trainers’ Conference has caught the attention of stakeholders in the industry. The state governor and the Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions have long been dedicated to envisioning the future of work in the Lagos State Public Service. In our view, the future for the Lagos State Public Service is heavily dependent on the systematic, yet aggressive development of capacities and the innovative and creative use of resources so as to do more with less.

I have always emphasised that high performances have been known to increase in organisations that expose their human capital to development through capacity development trainings. It has been noted that, “human capital resources are viewed as strategic assets, and managers in particular are often identified as a key source of competitive advantage. Given their importance, a critical question arises regarding what individuals need to learn to become more effective and productive. Are there particular skills that are more or less important for predicting overall organisational success?”

To address this question, one must first identify the types of skills that are required in order to develop capacity in organisations. Across multiple rating sources (e.g. supervisors, peers, and subordinates) and different instruments . . .  it has been identified that there are four overarching skill dimensions:

  1. a) technical skill;
  2. b) administrative skill;
  3. c) human skill; and
  4. d) ”

Thus, organisations must explore the ways to enhance, on a continuous and sustainable basis, the core skills that managers and key officers need for success as well as the personal effectiveness skills required.

The earlier-cited HR expert, Fionnuala Courtney, further articulated six of the big benefits that leadership training can offer any organisation. According to her submissions, any organisation, including the Lagos State Public Service, can benefit from capacity development trainings by increasing productivity, helping to retain people, nurturing future managers, and increasing employee engagement.

In our envisioned future of work, the importance of eliminating waste cannot be overemphasised. Countless studies have shown that, with good and sound processes relating to management of time and resources, one finds that meagre resources can be extended to produce outstanding results. In other words, organisations and individuals can achieve more with less.

An article by McKinsey & Company states as follows: “Governments around the world want to deliver better education, better health care, better pensions, and better transportation services. They know that impatient electorate expect to see change, and fast. But the funds required to meet such expectations are enormous—particularly in the many developed economies where populations are ageing, and the public sector’s productivity hasn’t kept pace with that of the private sector. The need to get value for money from governments at all levels is therefore under the spotlight as never before. But cost-cutting programmes that seek savings of 1 to 3 percent a year will not be enough and in some cases, may even weaken the quality of service.”

The author of the article then stated that, in order to “address the problem, public-sector leaders are looking with growing interest at ‘lean’ techniques long used in private industry. From the repair of military vehicles to the processing of income tax returns, from surgery to urban planning, lean is showing that it cannot only improve public services but also transform them for the better. Crucially for the public sector, a lean approach breaks with the prevailing view that there has to be a trade-off between the quality of public services and the cost of providing them.

I fully agree with the viewpoints expressed above and I do hope that NITAD will come forward with position papers that will guide and adumbrate on these issues for the benefit of stakeholders in the industry.

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