Making workers quantify their efforts is a first step towards making the India's oldest political party work for the real customer, the citizen
Gandhi’s bold move to evaluate the congress party office bearers gives some food for thought for employees in the corporate world.
The Congress scion, Rahul Gandhi, has created a flutter among the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chiefs with the introduction of a performance appraisal system that is unheard of in sarkari circles.
Gandhi has circulated a four page questionnaire to the PCC chiefs which has measurement parameters such as number of kilometers travelled, number of meetings held, local concerns etc. Once completed, the questionnaire has to be signed by the PCC chief, Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of the state and the AICC secretary – an uncanny resemblance to the performance appraisal systems ubiquitous in the corporate world. The questionnaire has come ahead of the impending reshuffle in the party and apparently the future of PCC chiefs will depend on how they are rated on this.
Gandhi seems to have taken his management lesson from Peter Drucker who said “What gets measured, gets managed.” Speculation is rife about what led to Gandhi taking such a step. Is it a desperate attempt to breathe life into a party-in-crisis or a genuine effort to make politics in India more about action and less about talk? If we look at Gandhi’s bold move through the lens of people management, there is some food for thought on the parallels between political workers and employees in the corporate world:
Appraisal on KRAs that were never communicated: In the corporate dictionary this confusion and anxiety caused by the introduction of the new process, can be termed as being rated on KRAs that had never been communicated. However is that the case here? Indian political parties have had an informal style of working where few processes are defined and most of the rules are unwritten. However, a PCC chief saying that he never knew about his responsibilities or deliverables is being unreasonable. In all likelihood, he never cared to perform his duties because he was sure that no one will ever check. And now that performance is being measured and documented he has nowhere to hide.
Measurable results not just perception management: With the introduction of such an appraisal one can hope that party workers who actually work are rewarded and those who thrive on perception management have to pull up their socks. Just knowing that they have to answer for their performance should hopefully bring about a change in the way political functionaries view their work.
These efforts launched by Rahul Gandhi seem to leave little room for any office bearer to fake their performance. Making workers quantify their efforts and come up with reasonable explanation for work that has not been done is a first step towards making the India’s oldest political party work for the real customer, the citizen, instead of working for their bosses.
Results can be measured irrespective of job description: There are many who argue that the output of certain roles cannot be measured because they are intangible or the goals will only be realised in the long term. In no other scenario could this case be any stronger than in the case of one of the world’s largest political parties where it would be difficult to measure the outcomes since elections only happen once in five years. However, Gandhi’s appraisal edict seems to indicate that he believes efforts can always be measured even if outcomes are difficult to track.
Ownership of team performance: The process initiated by Gandhi requires various levels in the party hierarchy to sign the self-appraisal questionnaire, which means that they need to take ownership of their team, no matter what side of the performance curve the team is on. Party bosses, like all managers in other organizations, need to wake up and smell the coffee come appraisal time. The buck stops with them for their team’s performance and by being asked to sign off on their team’s self-appraisals they are formally being held accountable.