Progress means better Chief Executives

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Orlando Huaman*

I write in reference to an the opinion of the Prime Minister the A.C.E.Os should be chosen by Cabinet. 

Let me tell about this right off. Neither the P.S.C nor Cabinet are qualified to hire the above positions. Why? 

In a selection of personnel for these critical positions, the only person authorized to do this job is a professional interviewer. Jobs that we don’t have here in Samoa. It is about time to elevate our way of hiring to a professional level. 

Panellists, are as good as the common man of the street. A vendor at the Fugalei maketi would have a better idea what kind of a man we need to impulse our 1st century agriculture. The panellists, whoever they are must not handle positions of this nature that whose performance means so much for the development of the country. 

Fact: All the performances  previous C.E.Os and A.C.E.Os  for the past few years amount to a big zero.

If this practice continues, the country will be managed by individuals whose previous achievements nobody knows. Education background and experience does not mean a thing. They are totally irrelevant to choose those positions; neither is relevant if what you are looking for is individuals who have shown relevant results in their previous jobs.

Let’s just ask these questions to the so called candidates to these positions: How would you solve the following problems facing, let us say agriculture, our health, or our educational system? The so called experts in the government in their respective area of the candidates should prepare a list of 6 outstanding problems facing the country- this is called a behavioural type of interview—whichever candidate answers in a realistic manner, feasible and practical way could be considered a serious candidate. 

All the candidates must be submitted to at least three interviews. One interview is a gamble, we can’t possibly know what is in their mind about the job’s performance to benefit the country.  They just want the job and the perks. They have no idea  whatsoever  what the problems are. They (the candidates) are totally unprepared to handle the job. They have no training whatsoever. 

All they have is a poorly written C.V.s, and even poorer cover letter. No objectives at all. Achievements in the area of expertise zero. If the Head of State is concerned by who are these persons nominated for these positions should not approve any recommendation from panellist who don’t have any business meddling with high responsible jobs. He should reject them out right.

By accepting the word of the cabinet panellist  he is endangering the fate of the country to poorly chosen people.

For the P.M. to say that the A.C.E.O.s could automatically inherit the job of the C.E.O. is highly irresponsible and no knowledge whatsoever how to choose the best man for the job. He should take care of the sumo wrestlers at the prison or the street vendors kids. 

P.M. is playing with fire by entrusting those highly responsible positions to inexpert  hands in the art and science of hiring.

The system used to hire C.E.Os and A.C.E.Os  by the P.S.C. is useless and wasteful. I have said it so many times through my articles. Now in a book form at the Nelson library. One of its kind in the Pacific. I highly recommend to the so- called panellists to review my book before making a blunder by meddling with the hiring process Not only that, they are defrauding the country by their unacceptable performance and rewarded by an undeserved high salary and perks.

 It should be replaced by a scientifically designed method based on potential and abilities, education and experience are secondary and of no relevance whatsoever. Why? A hire based on education and experience is illogical. 

Why? Experience, all candidate supposedly have experience, and also education. 

So those two conditions for hiring are highly irrelevant. This way only the best of the best are chosen, given them ample time to apply and the criteria highly aligned with the respective problems facing the country at hand. Only those who offer the best solutions, and with the tacit understanding that their performances must be reviewed yearly by experts in the field. This way the country will be guided in a path to deserved progress.

Why quality C.E.Os? Well, we should believe it is mandatory. 

By not doing so we will fall behind the Joneses of the world and easy pray for bigger countries political manipulations, under the guise of grants.. We are not satisfied with the one we have. If not check. In 2014 nothing exciting happened, same the years after  (other than the business as usual) in ministries such as agriculture, education and health. Nothing to be proud of: our agriculture, with SACEP and all that money, still in the 1st century, subsistence agriculture, and exporting dreams. 

The day I see apples, oranges, pears, carrots, grapes, etc. at the Fugalei market that will be the day  that MAFF  people are doing their job. Also our own milk, cheese, and meat. By the same token: we should be manufacture our own animal feed. To lower the cost of production.

  Education: graduates who cannot write up a simple application letter in technical English. 

No wonder the high unemployment rate. Our graduates are ignorant in the way how they look for a job. How do I know? Two free job seminars. I gave, for youth and adults showed me that.  Health. The country is getting more obese, absurd proliferation of junk soda and snacks, good for nothing. No palpable results in view. Why parents buy junk food for their kids? 

Our foreign debt in the billions, any austerity program Mr. P.M.? 

Trying to pick up some more money by taxing the faifeau and the head of state. The best way to raise money to pay our debt is to cut unnecessary people: Associate Ministers, chop ten per cent of all the salaries of the big honchos: they certainly are overpaid. 

Use that money to help the Village People some of them living on a 20 tala budget per week. No water and electricity, and a leaky roof. And clamouring for jobs.

 Sell all high priced cars of the ministers and C.E.Os and buy them a taxi-type auto. 

Big egos big cars? Or let them buy their own vehicles. They certainly have the tupe.  How? hire an efficient expert to check all the “dead wood” milking the government just by shuffling paper around. Over staffing at the S.T.A., and S.R.O.S. If they don’t perform they should be closed or privatize them. All kinds of titles and no performance to speak of. Be mean and lean in staffing. No nepotism. For the PM to say that there is no poverty in Samoa is like  he saying I am not obese. In fact I am slimmer than Obama. Mirror, mirror on the wall.

Our tourism industry with high hotel rates,(no wonder the low occupancy), high air transportation and bad customer service to boot; Why pay 15 tala for a cup of coffee, most of it made of  cheap New Zealand milk, and a fancy name to boot. Who want to come back? Only the Samoans living abroad and want to visit their aiga, counted as ‘tourist” ?

 That is why we need CEOs with innovative ideas, lots of imagination, desire to change with the times. And most of all: high personal integrity, focused in greatness and willing to sacrifice for the country. 

By the way, when was the last time that a C.E.O. was dismissed due to poor performance? Unheard of, off course. Secretaries are trained to say: “the C.E.O. is in a meeting” (translation he went out shopping, and check his business) Cabinet members, are by far, not qualified to choose C.E.Os/A.C.E.Os. It is like let a bunch of  nurses  performing a triple bypass surgery on a dying patient. 

In my opinion as job counsellor: the only way to choose a C.E.O/A.C.E.O. is to employ a professional interviewer, use a behavioural type of interview and interview the short listed candidates  more than one time. 

How to spot a good C.E.O.? 

There are better ways, not only to choose but to predict, with all certainty, the chosen ones who are going to be good performers. That is why the US is ahead of everybody because the people employed at all levels are the right ones. 

The Office of Personnel Management (O.P.M.) is the equivalent of P.S.C here. 

O.P.M’s methods should be a model here.   What is the logic that they follow? It is like this: If you were good in your past jobs, enjoyed what you did and felt proud about them; there is no reason in the world why can’t you keep doing in your next job? 

Think about that if you are C.E.O material. Don’t go for the money; passion about the job must be your guiding light. Renewal of the position should be based absolutely on performance. It is wrong to keep the same CEO more than three years if that person does nothing of excellency.

Let me quote my former job counsellor Dr. Haldane the inventor of it: “…you have to spot opportunities for growth, how to advance into areas of work that you like and want to do, not just those you can do.” In plain English; don’t just sit in your chair doing routine work,  put your brain to work. Think big!

If you don’t have the skills to function as a C.E.O., no amount of effort will make you perform at the level you are expected to.

 The so called Selected Panel are not in the “know how” of the position, and do not practice the behavioural interview type. How do I know that? The questions the panel asked me (when I applied for a job) were highly irrelevant to the job at hand. I was highly disappointed; since I was prepared for hard relevant questions.

One more important thing. CEOs and ACEOs should be trained before they take up their posts. The presence of a so called Samoa Management Association is needed. Staffed with high calibre managers and efficiency experts. Meaning professional interviewers, not “panellists”. Experts in the art of managing money, time and people. 

If the PM want to go ahead and have his way how to choose the CEOs and ACEOs he will be doing a disservice to the country by entrusting the country’s development to untrained, unproven and badly chosen candidates. 

If we don’t improve the quality of our CEOs, by picking the best problem-solving brains; we will, as a country, be in the pile of mediocrity among the nations. Joseph Heller said: Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.

We, as a country, have the capacity to get out of that category. So, we have to decide to decide.

 

*Orlando Huaman is a Job Counsellor based at Malololelei


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