12 Jul 2021  (201 Views)
Encourage lower level leaders to take initiative.

President Xi Jinping of China said that the cadre members of the Chinese Communist Party wait for written orders before they take action. He encouraged them to use their initiative. 

See this report. 

I wish to point out that this problem exists in other countries. When Donald Trump was in charge in America, many of the bureaucrats also waited for instructions. 

Even the top scientist, who was perhaps the most highly paid person in America, had to defer to the president on how to manage the pandemic. 

The same problem exists in Singapore as well. The top civil servants probably prefer the decision to be taken by the ministers. They will implement the decisions.

I also believe that the same behavior exists in large business organizations. I observed it when I was in charge of a large insurance company.

However, I have found a way to empower the lower level staffs to take the initiative. 

This is how it was done.

a) I give general guidelines on how decisions can be taken.
b) I encourage the staff to take their initiative in arriving at their decision.
c) If they are unsure about the decision, they submit a brief online report to explain why they took the decision.

The online report was reviewed by the supervisor. If the supervisor did not object within 24 hours, the staff was absolved from any blame, even if the decision was wrong.

This approach worked well. The staff enjoyed exercising their discretion, and often in finding an answer that was fair to the customer. 

I hope that President Xi will adopt this approach. 

Tan Kin Lian


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