There is an urgent need to design a strategy for human resource development within GuySuCo

Dear Editor,

One notes a familiar correspondent to your columns expressing his enviable faith in the efficacy of GuySuCo’s recently appointed (interim) board. (The duration of the interregnum is unclear). His faith seems to be founded in ‘politics’ rather than, as Rachel Maddow observed Monday night after the Obama press conference, “policy.”

Boards are expected to decide on policy, and policy must derive from an honest analysis of objectively presented facts (as distinct from weighted submissions aimed at satisfying perceived needs.) The sugar industry is by no means unique in being required, like organizations the world over, to collect, and analyse facts, and professionally address the issues arising therefrom. This process is the core of every job at every level in the industry, including that of the cane harvester – who must set the pace for achieving the agreed targets – per day, per week and per crop.

At various levels in the organisation’s hierarchy, specialists must interpret data and collate information that will inform decision-making within their respective areas of competence. Competency therefore becomes a critical contributor to production and productivity.

But competency results from a combination of education, experience, mentoring and a dedication to responsibilities – the last infused by the right balance of incentives – among them financial reward, career development, and the invaluable (but undervalued) factor of morale.

In other words competency is the outcome of the appropriate development of the human resource. No organization can be sustained without the security of such development. The sugar industry is in no way different. Its sustainability is directly related to the placement and retention of the appropriate skills and competencies at the right stations, and at the relevant decision-making levels. Otherwise the technologies of the processes and systems installed will not achieve the results of which they are capable. So one comes round – not for the first time – to confronting the urgency of designing a strategy for human resource development that would envisage a time-frame of no less than five, and optimally, ten years. This is one exercise for which the executive management must take initial responsibility, for it will be necessary to re-focus on conducting an intensive performance evaluation of current management and supervisory stock, as well as of technical skills grades, to identify the potential for further education, training and overall growth. And having also identified the gaps, they will have to strategise how the latter will be filled. A component of this developmental process must be the re-institution of a training facility in GuySuCo, with the reassuring capacity for addressing its priority organizational needs and performance gaps. In this connection a critical area for re-examination is the Apprentice Training Centre at Port Mourant for the relevance of its programmes to changing technologies. These are the actions which contribute to the uplifting and maintenance of morale. The diminution of the authority and competency requirements of the human resource function at the head office level, resulting from recently announced restructuring in GuySuCo, does not offer assurances that the concerns raised above are engaging the immediate or priority attention of the upgraded executive policy-makers. It is however a sufficiently critical issue that need not await a signal from the board.

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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