Tuesday, July 07, 2009

MPs, NCMPs & NMPs - The need for a credible voice? Or a perpetuation of the current 'incredible' voices?

Q1. If all opposition were branded as 'incredible' why are there now more pushes for internal opposing voices?

A1. A realization that group think is very dangerous? Or to further protect the rice bowls of some by pandering to 'populist' demands for more opposition? Or is the ruling party and hence government of the day trying to look good in some international forum where a KPI such as 'level of political representation' is considered?

Q2. If the ruling party, the PAP, were so good and right all the time and is constantly and perpetually infused with 'talent' why the need to even consider NMPs, much less an increased number of NCMPs to 'oppose' (or 'provide a different voice' if we were to put it in a more politically correct by wordy way) the house?

A2. Refer to A1.

Q3. If NMPs and NCMPs are deemed a 'requirement' for whatever reason known only to the ruling party who has graciously decided to accomodate more 'opposition' instead of 'fixing' them why is there such a disparity in their allowances? About 15k a month for MPs and under 2k a month for NMPs and NCMPs?

A3. Refer to A1.

If elected to Parliament I would propose an adjustment of all MPs, NMPs, NCMPs allowances to be the AVERAGE (not MEDIAN - see article from years ago about reading BS statistics in this blog) Singaporean salary in accordance with the census tool (GHSS - General Household Survey) since we so thoroughly believe in the use and application of statistics. Therefore I propose that any political representative be paid not one cent more then what an AVERAGE Singaporean earns. This should provide all political representatives to TRULY consider the average Singaporeans welfare. Not just workfare ........... which is being abused to an extent that is unspeakable ........ my tax money ....... OMG ...........

Q4. If we are proclaimed to be a democracy and have insituted laws to effect appropriate representation by races as in the GRC system then why do virtually all MPs live in private / landed property while 85% to 90% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats? Should there not be representation by economic status as well then? How can a multi-million dollar minister possibly emphatise with those living in HDB flats when they live in landed seclusion sometimes with private swimming pools? Do they ever use the public pool? Is this a fair representation especially when they got voted in then voted themselves a renumeration easily 30 to 50 times or more then that of an average Singaporean?

A4. Your guess is as good as mine.

Q5. If higher 'salaries' or allowances serve as a deterrent against corruption .... why do we often read of lowly paid public servants who are investigated and nailed by CPIB? Should these officers then not also be granted multi-million dollar salaries to remove the temptation of corruption?

A5. Refer to A4?

Q6. If then one of the stars on the Singapore flag represents EQUALITY ..... why is it that the public service, in terms of 'allowances' and the like promote such DISPARITY?

A6. Refer to A4.

Q7. If Singapore is so proudly proclaimed to be a multi-religions and multi-racial society .... why then are there so many constant reminders that drive home the message of religious and racial disparity in the media? And how in the world did we, as an example of great religious and racial integration to the rest of the world - generate such a fiasco with dressing codes that are apparently religiously driven during the recent Asian Youth Games? Does this mean we are WRONGLY represented in Parliament? Is therefore, the current system a viable and valid system of representation?

A7. Racial tensions today, in my opinion, are actually generated and perpetuated from the top in the old Roman war strategy of 'divide and conquer.' I don't feel any racial tension as a Singaporean - this must mean that Parliament is not truly representative - or that the figureheads are spouting nonsense.

Recent exposed events have also demonstrated that religion is a more dangerous political animal then race will ever be though little is done on this front be it just in words or deed.

Q8. Are we then a truly secular state? Especially given the predominant religious strains in Singapore decry the use and ownership of 'money' as a 'sin' or do not at all focus on money (2). So which is what?

A8. When you find out please let me know.

Q9. If the welfare state is a a series of vulgar words that are 'punishable' by public shaming and political denigration of the highest order .... then why does [Quote] Mr Tharman said there are limits to what can be achieved by countries through fiscal and monetary policies. Fiscal policy has already resulted in a substantial build-up of debt around the world while most of Asia is on a US Federal Reserve-inspired monetary policy, he said.

... (elipses here represent abrigding, not sound biting as our broadcasters are wont to do when so properly incentivised)

He urged regional governments to work on microeconomic and social reforms to increase long-term consumption growth, such as developing social security and health insurance policies that would free Asian consumers to spend more and save less.

China is 'very serious' about these sort of reforms, he noted, pointing out that the country is planning to have a medical clinic in every village by 2012 and national health insurance by 2020.

'The macro story worked well for a year but is both unsustainable and undesirable if continued year after year,' he said. 'The real reforms in social security... that story is real, but it takes time.' [End Quote]??

A9. Is social welfare then not really a dirty set of words? Or are we again 'uniquely Singapore' I'd call a spade a spade and not any other thing - this way all citizens are aware of what is truly going on and can all bootstrap ourselves upwards and onwards instead of relying on half-truths and unspoken truths that may be politically correct but absolutely dumbifying.

Nine is a good number to stop at. Now let's wait a few weeks to months to see the official response to this posting. Just read the papers and watch TV a bit ..... I think many of these questions will be addressed shortly when Parliament is due to re-open and over the National Day period.

Bangun lah! Singapura! Maju lah! Singapura!

HR Nonsense? Examination Nonsense? - The Trouble with Performance Reviews

No one likes to give them or get them. But you can conduct performance reviews that actually assess performance. Here's how

By Jeffrey Pfeffer

Some years ago a human resources manager at a Silicon Valley computer company offered managers free tickets to San Francisco Giants games if they completed their subordinates' performance reviews on time. When David Russo headed up human resources for software maker SAS Institute, he earned employee cheers for a bonfire celebration that burned appraisal forms and ended annual reviews.

These two examples reflect a broader reality: Managers don't like giving appraisals, and employees don't like getting them. Perhaps they're not liked because both parties suspect what the evidence has proved for decades: Traditional performance appraisals don't work. But as my colleague and fellow Stanford professor Bob Sutton and I pointed out in our book, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management, belief and conventional wisdom often trump the facts. And when it comes to performance evaluations, companies ranging from HR consulting firms to providers of software that automate the process have a big stake in their continued use.

The most basic problem is that performance appraisals often don't accurately assess performance. More than two decades ago research done by professor David Schoorman showed that whether or not the supervisor had hired or inherited her employees was a better predictor of evaluation results than actual job performance. Employees hired by people doing the reviews got higher scores because of the greater psychological commitment managers have to the people they put themselves on the line to hire. That there is rater bias in performance reviews is consistent with the evidence showing gender and race effects on reviews. Similarity is an important basis of interpersonal attraction, and so people who are "different" get lower ratings, other things being equal.

Involve More People
When work is difficult to assess objectively, performance reviews mostly reflect how well employees can ingratiate themselves with the boss. One straightforward recommendation is to reduce managerial discretion in doing ratings. Make criteria more explicit and objective and have more people involved in the ratings process, so that one person's perceptions and biases don't matter so much.

A second issue is that reviews occur too infrequently to provide meaningful feedback. In return for getting rid of the appraisal form, Russo told SAS managers to provide more regular, ongoing feedback through frequent conversations with their people. Once-a-year reviews suffer from short-term memory loss: Managers remember more recent events and forget things that happened longer ago. If you are serious about feedback and helping people improve, do it all the time.

Next problem: Those receiving the reviews invariably believe they are above average—and defensively resist being told that they aren't. This "above average" effect has been widely replicated in numerous studies considering everything from sense of humor to appearance. "Forced rankings" require half of the people be rated below average. And that poses a threat to employees' self-esteem. As a result, people discount the ratings, making performance appraisals unlikely to improve performance.

Forget Colleague Comparisons
A fourth hurdle to productive reviews is the peer comparisons often required. Ranking someone against their colleagues creates competition and, consequently, a reluctance to offer help or collaborate—a big problem when so much of the way we work is interdependent. As lots of research in educational settings shows, the best assessments compare people with their own past performance. The assessments ask whether people are getting better or worse, not forcing comparisons with others that can cause people to give up (because they can't hope to exceed their peers) or to coast (because they know they don't need to improve given the competition). The lesson? If you're going to do performance assessments, at least don't force comparisons among people on some curve.

Possibly the biggest issue, however, is that performance appraisals focus managers' attention on precisely the wrong thing: individual people. As W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality movement, taught a long time ago, company performance often results more from variations in systems than from the individuals doing the work. One of the reasons Toyota Motor (TM) has been so successful for decades—even as leaders have come and gone and the automobile market has changed—is that the fundamentals of the Toyota management system, which emphasizes quality, continuous improvement, and standardized tasks, provide the advantage. By focusing on the presumed deficiencies or strengths of people, individual performance reviews divert attention from the important task of eliminating the systemic causes, such as inferior technology, behind poor performance.

Even as companies and employees complain about performance appraisals, they do them because "everyone else is," and because they believe in the importance of individuals in boosting company performance. It is time for management to focus more on facts and evidence and less on benchmarking and unexamined conventional wisdom.

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books. Pfeffer's latest book, tentatively entitled Power: An Organizational Survival Guide will be published in early 2010 by HarperCollins. Pfeffer currently serves on the board of directors of the for-profit company Audible Magic as well as nonprofits Quantum Leap Healthcare and The San Francisco Playhouse.

Courtesy of Businessweek - probably read by our illustrious leaders and misinterpreted or plainly ignored by the bureaucrats.