Performance key to becoming a minister


‘WHAT gets measured gets done’, according to Tom Peters, the author of In Search of Excellence. Government after government always seem to make decisions regarding their ministers, senators and councillors, based on emotional public opinion rather than sound scientific measures. Election after election results in constituents decrying the representation they got from their representative, be they local government or Member of Parliament (MP). True leadership will objectively assess its councillor and MP, based on performance.

It is no secret that a commitment to the public carries with it a certain degree of sacrifice, not only for family but also for income. Every single MP knew what he was getting into when he decided to run for or accept a public office. Having done so, the least he can do is perform. If he were elected by the people, at the barest minimum, he should meet with his constituents, at least once per week.

Focusing on ministers, there is a need for one or more systems of evaluation that benefits the country. It is proposed that a holistic or 360-degree approach be used in evaluating a minister’s performance. This is a three-pronged approach, which will attest to the ability of the minister to satisfy the country, through his delivery of goods and services. One prong requires a minister’s peers to evaluate his performance. This evaluation will address teamwork, integrity, competence and willingness to listen to issues.

A maximum of five fellow ministers, chosen randomly, will perform the evaluation of a given minister.

The second prong has value if he were elected by the people and requires his constituents to also evaluate his performance as their MP. This evaluation, to be done by the constituency executive, will evaluate his ability to deliver on his campaign promises for the constituency and focuses on his innovative, problem-solving and leadership abilities.

The third prong is his evaluation by the prime minister, being the one who selected him as a minister. This evaluation will address performance from a country-wide perspective and will be in the form of a four-quadrant balanced scorecard. Considering a very high level view, one quadrant will address budget management andshould detail each budgeted programme activity.

Another quadrant should address people satisfaction, via a survey, which would have been done earlier by an accredited entity and should articulate how the people perceive his performance. A third quadrant should address policies and systems that he has modified and or created that make more efficient his portfolio, as well as result in better corporate governance. The final quadrant must address his learning and growth, in terms of his ability to quickly understand and articulate issues that are not within his core competence.

This 360-degree approach, once undertaken, will result in a more productive minister and should be done annually. All ministers should be appraised by the prime minister of said evaluation mechanism, so there are no surprises. Arguing that ministers are not performing is vacuous in the absence of tangible evidence that they are performing in the position in which they have been placed. Short of a performance evaluation, the country has to wait until the next general election to gauge performance.

It is therefore incumbent upon the prime minister to periodically appraise his minister’s performance in a one-on-one discussion, with the understanding that the annual performance appraisal will be quite formal.

The incoming prime minister must display true leadership by having and executing a means of evaluating his minister’s performance, otherwise there will continue to be a disenchanted population. It is time enough for demonstrated leadership and good governance.

Harjoon Heeralal