Dear Editor,
One had remarked earlier in your columns the fuzziness of the reporting by other press on Guysuco’s recent management ‘restructuring,’ not realizing at  the time that it was actually a reflection of the latter’s fuzzy argumentation  for what seems destined to be a ‘de-structuring’ instead.

One was always concerned about the quality of communication which was obtained in the organisation, but never really conceived that such substantive change in the careers of managers and other professionals could be presented in a manner that fails to flatter the capacity and sensitivity of the current leaders, while doing less than justice to the institutional memory of knowledgeable stakeholders.

The argument made is that the sugar industry in Guyana had changed in many ways over the years and will continue to do so; that the evolution of the organisation’s structure was due to relatively minor adjustments in response over the years to changing circumstances, until it had developed to its current position; and that it was once again time to make the appropriate structural changes in the management of the organisation with a view to facing future challenges.

What in fact are these ‘creative’ changes?  The proposed new structure provides for a new position − that of Deputy Chief Executive Officer to whom the incumbents of the resurrected positions of Regional Director will report.  The DCEO’s position is currently vacant.

Interestingly enough, at the estate level, while Agriculture and Factory Operations will report to the Estate Manager, there is a clear implication that neither the latter, nor the Regional Director, is deemed to have the capacity/authority to monitor, supervise and evaluate those managers who respectively must prepare the estate budget, and undertake the related financial management process, or administer estate recruitment, promotion and related working conditions that give rise to grievances, and consequently union representation.

In other words, what are the explicit communication arrangements between the group of (Estate) Department Heads?  More important perhaps must be the implications for the speed of communication between these ‘estate’ located (but virtual Head Office) representatives and their supervisors at the centre itself, not to mention the quality of decision-making, based on ‘estate’ information which may still need to be verified.

How does one reinforce teamwork on the estate? What are the implications for interpersonal relationships?  It is perhaps instructive that this fuzzy area is not reflected in the latest organisation chart. One can now understand the apparent reluctance of the executive for direct interaction with the managed (and non-managed).  The ‘structuring’ may not have withstood the scrutiny of debate.

In any case, that the attempted restructuring does not reflect any substantive developmental thrust, is evidenced in the mere recycling of the same ‘suspect’ competencies.

As one correspondent in SN of January 13, 2009, observed, “The tendency to look for solutions from the very ones who created the problems in the first place will have to be avoided.” Unfortunately that advice has come too late.  More importantly, however, is the less than subliminal message being sent across the industry regarding the status of the Human Resource function.
A former Guysucon writing from the diaspora had this to say:

“A ‘convoluted’ application of organisational structuring if ever I have seen one!  It is difficult to avoid the impression that ‘the coat has been cut to suit the cloth available’ rather than to suit the challenges facing the industry: hence the predominant conclusion that this is another patchwork rather than a new sewing for the new suit required for the new ‘muscles’ that the organisation so badly needs.  Of course, the unkindest and worst cut of all is the diminution (nay, the disappearance!!) of the HR function which is the one function that is most critical for the revitalisation of the sugar industry.”

It would be surprising if any others who know the sugar industry would disagree with this view, or would find reason to applaud this counter-productive effort which certainly will not energise the players concerned.  The organisation as a whole is unlikely to effervesce.  Instead of new wine we still have sticky molasses.
Yours faithfully,
E B John

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