CEO’s must ensure the maturity and technical expertise of Junior Managers
Guyana Chronicle
December 14, 2002

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Ensuring an adequate supply of junior managers and their technical competency are increasing in significance as challenges confronting chief executives and majority shareholders. The problem is not defined merely by a shortage of graduates from the University of Guyana or other tertiary institutions, with relevant skills, but is complicated by insufficient training, within companies, and attrition due to migration.

Whether a company or a governmental agency, the need to maintain close scrutiny over the promotion of ambitious junior managers in order to ensure their maturity when elevated to positions of authority, is a matter of risk management as well as devising a clear policy on remuneration to senior executives who supervise inexperienced junior managers. Chief executives, both in the private and public sectors, need to take seriously the issue of managerial competence, weighing the delicate balance between whether to delay promotion or to lose a talented junior manager to the global market, or, to a competitor.

The underlying issue is how to implement an equitable wages and salaries policy that properly rewards senior executives while maintaining parity with the market for ambitious junior managers? In the last 3 months the Chief Labour Officer has referred to arbitration a number of unresolved wage disputes. In each referral the initial pay claim was an ‘across the board’ increase based on the lowest paid employment category and, in all of the cases, between 300 per cent to 800 per cent of the rate of inflation.

The reality is that such pay claims disguise disparities within companies between junior managers and senior executives. Should Guyanese wish to take advantage of the benefits of specialization, then, the imperative will be to reduce employment costs and to increase productivity. Wage settlements simply cannot be in excess of a company’s ability to pay or beyond the capacity of our economy to sustain.

Whatever the merits of their pay claim, public servants had submitted to arbitration a package that the government alleged failed to take into account the cost of increased social expenditure on its crime prevention programme and the need for greater equity in the distribution of wealth. In the sugar industry, field and boiler-house workers demanded a 38-percent increase, a figure rejected by Guysuco as unrealistic, if the industry was to survive removal of the preferential prices after 2005.

The lesson is that in the current economic environment employment costs must reflect their true contribution to production and not be determined by external factors or political considerations. .

Achieving a reduction in employment costs will require abandoning archaic work practices and outmoded rewarding schemes. However, to accomplish that transformation from the present to the future will place greater emphasis on the ability of managers. These are the very persons that chief executives must ensure possess the technical expertise to implement changes needed to modernize a particular industry and whose promotion has been delayed until they are sufficiently mature to conclude wage agreements that incorporate an equitable distribution of the wealth created in the enterprise or the taxes available to government.

Guyana can ill-afford the high costs of a mis-match between national goals and the nation’s ability to sustain high wages and salaries. In such a scenario non-money rewards such as ownership and participation in the management of a company, become equally significant as money in the pay packet. Governments must then seek out new and more creative ways of securing the involvement of public servants in the delivery of services and in the implementation of development programmes.

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