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Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. - Fulton J. Sheen.
Irrespective of industry, organization or sector you talk to managers and staff and the cry is the same: Mediocre performers have been allowed to remain in positions year after year, stagnating organizational growth and suffocating genius. Complaints are levied at employees and customers voice their frustration, yet nothing changes. Why? Because no one wants to be the "bad guy" . Nobody wants to pull the trigger. Nobody wants to have the tough conversation, sadly no one has the guts to give the mediocre employee a simple ultimatum - grow or go!
But why not? Why are managers afraid to give the ultimatum? Could it be that they have somehow contributed to this madness? Absolutely! Many managers have become enablers, and if you want your organization to grow these managers need to be arrested.
How do managers contribute to mediocrity in organizations?
1. They hire warm bodies verses the right individual for the job. Sadly this is a dilemma recruitment managers face everyday.
Door number one: Quickly hire someone, anyone, as long as he/she is breathing to fill the position before the board, or senior managers decide to freeze or worst eliminate the position all together. Or door number two: Take the time to search for, train and let's not forget appropriately compensate the right individual to fill the position. Most hiring managers seem to opt for door number one and in their desperation for a quick hire find themselves stuck with one of three types of warm bodies:
The monkey - often referred to as "the ideal person for you" by the manager of the department trying to "pass the monkey". This individual is introduced to the hiring manager as a "gift", with no regard as to whether or not the monkey possesses the right skills and competencies to function in the new role.
The cruiser - this individual possesses the right skills and competencies to fill the position, but has no interest or passion for the role. Their main objective is to "cruise" in an easier role, wait for retirement, escape from his or her current manager/team members or to take advantage of some new freedom/incentive that this position may offer.
The directionless - this individual starts out as the right person for the job. He/she possesses the right skills and competencies, but soon becomes derailed since the organization has no clear infrastructure or strategy to help this individual succeed. The right individual may be on the bus, but after the first thirty days without basic office supplies (a computer, telephone, business cards etc.) do you really expect this individual to succeed?
Wouldn't it be better to opt for door number two and begin the recruitment process with a clearly defined strategy for the position, a strategy that begins with an actionable and accountable job description that allows you to hire for talent and train for skill?
2. Only hiring people they "can manage". Managers claim to want a self-directed, empowered team when what they really want is people who will not rock the boat, people who will not shake the organizational power structure, people who don't know how to think, ultimately people they can control. This is the breeding ground for mediocrity since under these conditions "A level" employees soon jump ship.
3. Lie on employees' performance appraisals - managers who hate confrontation, who want to be everyone's friend, or who may have already blinked out themselves and can't be bothered, grade everyone as fabulous! Four out of four, excellent, excellent. Obviously employees cannot fix a problem that doesn't exist!
4. Failing to set high performance standards in their department - if you've read Jim Collins' book "Good To Great" you know that "good is the enemy of great". If you want your team members to be superstars then you will have to push off the bench! Set high standards of excellence, build in accountability and ensure that every employee knows that there is a consequence for failing to perform at the expected standard. Don't accept excuses for mediocrity. Let's say that a particular job requires an advanced proficiency of Excel, however, the person in the position only has a basic understanding of Excel. They can add columns and texts but cannot create formulas. They promise to enroll in a course but they never do. In the meantime you continuously make excuses for the employee and find ways to work around the deficiency instead of having the "you need to enroll in a course or I will transfer you out of this department" conversation. That employee will always be the weak link and a burden to others in the department, and because there is no consequence for non-performance he/she will never strive to be a continuous learner.
5. When managers themselves do nothing to grow, they "lead" by example - managers lead by example whether good or bad. If you are a manager and you have done absolutely nothing to perfect or enhance your skills within the last 6 months, you're not growing. If you're not growing you have nothing new to bring to the table. Your lack of growth stagnates your team, kills your creativity, and sends a clear message to your staff that mediocrity is acceptable.
A word to the highly skilled, forever operating in excellence, but suffocating in a pool of mediocrity
I saw a quote the other day that read, "In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous". This is so true! If you're an "A" employee asking "but Stacia, how long will it take for these managers/organizations to realize that when they refuse to give the 'grow or go' ultimatum, they are really doing a disservice to their employees and killing the organization?" I say don't hurt your head for the answer; you'll be long gone by then!
Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of: Personal Branding, Image Management, Customer Service, Leadership, Business Etiquette & International Protocol Topics. You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or email Stacia@totalimagemanagement.com or visit staciawilliamsblog.com.
Abuse, armed robbery, housebreaking, rape, assault, murder and attempted murder are rampant in The Bahamas, and speak to social breakdown, and in fact, constitute an on again off again war against the social and economic system. There are no shortcuts. I propose seven areas of focus in terms of improving the situation. I address the first three today.
The highly-anticipated National Insurance Board (NIB) report is now being revealed by The Nassau Guardian.
The report is actually split into two -- one folder addressing in great detail allegations made against (now suspended) NIB Director Algernon Cargill in a November 8, 2012 letter sent to Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson by (now former) NIB Chairman Gregory Moss.
The letter advised that the board had voted to terminate Cargill and it outlined a series of damning allegations.
Before determining whether to follow through on the board's decision, the government hired Grant Thornton (chartered accountants) to complete a forensic review and present findings.
The report that we address in today's paper deals with the auditors' findings relating to those allegations made against Cargill, which he has vehemently denied in legal documents filed by his attorneys last November.
The full report (or reports) will be in the public domain once they are tabled in the House of Assembly.
In our articles this week, we will highlight some of the key findings.
Minister Gibson has previously told reporters he found the report "shocking".
We make no judgment on this matter one way or the other and only seek to present the findings of the auditors whose services were paid for by tax dollars.
Taxpayers of course have the right to know how their money was spent, and the general state of their cherished social security agency.
As we reported on our front page today, the auditors concluded that there was no evidence that the former minister responsible for NIB (Hubert Ingraham) approved the bonuses received by Cargill between January 2010 and May 2012.
A legal opinion from Thomas Evans, QC, determined that the NIB Act requires that overbased increases in salary and bonuses for the director and other members of the executive management get the approval of the minister.
Executive bonuses totaling $723,333 were paid during the period January 2010 through May 2012, according to the NIB report.
Executive bonuses in 2010 were in the range of 15 to 71.8 percent of the base salaries of executives.
Cargill received a 71.8 percent bonus on his 2010 base salary of $145,600, the NIB report said.
"It is interesting to note that in 2007, Mr. Lennox McCartney, former NIB director, recommended that bonuses should be 10 percent of salary," the report said.
The legal opinion attached to the report said, "...Nothing has been produced for our inspection to show that the minister had approved any such action (bonuses for Cargill and other executives).
"In these circumstances it is our opinion that such actions were ultra vires both the board (of NIB) and the human resources sub-committee and consequently are void and of no effect."
Grant Thornton requested the legal opinion from Evans to determine whether the authorization and payment of executive salaries and bonuses without the knowledge of the Human Resources Committee, the board of directors and the minister, were in accordance with the rules and regulations of the NIB Act.
Evans also said specific bonuses and salaries paid to executive management personnel, if made without the knowledge of the board of directors or the members of the human resources sub-committee and without the approval of the minister would also be void.
"There is, however, a caveat which arises out of the fact that the board of directors approved the budget that included the salary increases in question," the legal opinion stated.
"It is immaterial that neither [then NIB Chairman Patrick Ward] nor Mr. Cargill nor the human resources V.P. specifically brought these to the attention of the Board since directors owe a duty to the corporation to exercise fair and reasonable diligence in discharging their duties and to act honestly.
"It was therefore incumbent on the directors to ensure that they had all of the details of the budget that they were being asked to approve and not to approve the same unless they were able to justify the same.
"It was their business to ask questions until they were satisfied that they knew fully what was contained in the budget. It may not be therefore open to the directors to now complain of not being told of the salary increase component of the budget."
The auditors devoted 66 pages of their nearly 300-page report to the issue of bonuses and salaries.
Much of it includes board minutes from meetings over several years.
There is no evidence to suggest that HR Committee members, Rev. Etienne Bowleg or Debbie Ferguson knew the details of the executive bonuses paid, the report said.
The new board in 2012 suspended the executive bonus program.
The report said that in an interview with the auditors, Ward stated that management negotiated contracts so that they would get bonuses that would be linked to the bonuses the management union got, with no reference to performance measures or operation/financial targets.
He stated that historically the HR executive review committee handled HR matters for all senior management personnel.
They never openly discussed salaries and bonuses at the board level because of the confidentiality issue, especially with fellow board members who happen to be presidents of three prominent unions.
The board approved the charter (that is, the Human Resources Committee Terms of Reference), which gave the committee full responsibility and authority to deal with matters relating to management's salaries and bonuses, which should be in the board minutes.
Every year as a part of the budgetary process the Board of Directors would be aware of the overall parameters that would be set for the allocation of budgets.
They would not be aware of the individualization or specifics of the annual budget (say for salaries and bonuses) but would be aware of the pool (that is, the total amount).
Grant Thornton determined that the Human Resources Committee and full board should have received specifics and knowledge of the executive bonuses "for proper discussion and decision".
The Nassau Guardian previously reported that eight NIB executives and one person on contract collectively received bonuses of $723,333 between January 2010 and May 2012, with Cargill taking home $194,791.66 in bonuses during that period, according to information on NIB's files.
Grant Thornton also said it has seen no correspondence or approval from the minister with responsibility for NIB (Prime Minister Ingraham) to increase Cargill's base salary from $140,000 (per his initial contract dated October 20, 2008) to $163,072.
It said Cargill's base salary was eventually increased to $175,000.
Cargill's employment as NIB director over Mr. Darron Cash and Anthony Curtis, based on documents received by Grant Thornton, appear not to have been reviewed or approved by the Human Resources Committee, the report also said.
CREDIT CARD ISSUE
In his November letter to Minister Gibson, Moss also alleged that Cargill used his corporate credit card to incur in excess of $240,000 in charges over a period of three years for various charges which should otherwise have been subject to the normal purchases effected through the Purchasing Department of NIB.
Grant Thornton concluded that NIB has no documented credit card policy and the Chief Internal Auditor Whitney Patton stated in an interview with Grant Thornton dated November 29, 2012 that he was not aware that a credit card was issued to Cargill.
Purchase of supplies, electronic devices such as cell phones, iPads, iPhones, camera, other IT hardware could have been subjected to the normal purchasing oversight handled by the Purchasing Department instead of at the discretion of Cargill, the report said.
There were two credit cards issued during the year 2009 through 2012. They were issued only to Cargill in January 2009 and Chairman Gregory Moss in July 2012, respectively. Both credit cards had a credit limit of $25,000, according to Grant Thornton.
"We inquired with [Mrs. Sonia Gill, financial controller] if there was a documented authorization to issue credit cards to Mr. Algernon Cargill and Chairman Moss, the report said.
"According to Mrs. Gill, there was no documented authorization to approve the issuance of credit cards to both," it said.
"However, Mrs. Gill provided us with documentation on how the credit card of Mr. Moss was processed and collected from Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). We were not provided with documentation on how the credit card of Mr. Algernon Cargill was processed and collected, as according to Mrs. Gill, she is yet to locate them."
Amid controversy surrounding NIB, Minister Gibson instructed the Board to cancel the credit cards in January.
Total credit card charges from January 1, 2009 through October 31, 2012 totaled $273,541.16 of which $272,493.01 was reported as business expenses and $1,048.15 was reported as personal, the report said.
It said according to Gill, the personal charge of $1,048.15 was recorded as a receivable from an NIB official.
"Based on our review of the expense summary of Mr. Algernon Cargill and its attached supporting documents and correspondences, we found out that the total charges of $272,493.01 were not solely incurred by him but were also incurred by other NIB employees through use of his credit card," Grant Thornton said.
"Also, we were not able to view 24 percent or $65,887.35 of the total credit card charges as the supporting documents were not on the files provided to us."
Grant Thornton also said, "Based on our review of all credit card purchases, we noted that all purchases were not in compliance with the policy on Delegated Authority to Spend Budget Allocations."
Cargill used his credit card for meals in addition to his travel and subsistence allowances, according to the report.
The auditors concluded that NIB's policy on Delegated Authority to Spend Budget Allocations is inadequate as it did not have a policy specific for executive managers and directors in terms of approval of their own requisition of goods or services, replenishment or credit card charges, reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses and other payments.
Cargill has also denied the allegation that he improperly used his credit card.
In his court-filed affidavit, he said, "On the instructions of Mr. Patrick Davis and Mr. Gregory Moss, NIB's Internal Audit Department, led by Whitney Patton, CPA, and Nakeisha Simms, CPA, reviewed every transaction performed on the credit card from January 2009 to June 2012.
"In their summary of findings, they stated that 'Discussions with Mr. Patrick Ward, former chairman NIB, revealed that approval was given to the director to obtain and use a credit card for the purpose of business development and conduct of Board business, as well as to execute purchases where credit card payment is required; to mitigate against the inherent risk present when in possession of cash; and for use as and when required as is customary in today's business environment'."
Cargill also said, "The Internal Audit Department has completed their review and has not found any misuse of the NIB corporate credit card by me or any NIB executive."
Minister Shane Gibson has said the report from Grant Thornton will be tabled after Cargill gets an opportunity to respond to the findings.
We hope that this happens sooner, rather than later, as the public deserves full access to it, and at the end of the day needs to have confidence in the current and future viability of its social security agency.
We also hope that the NIB saga will improve how that entity as well as how other government departments and corporations are managed.
First published April 11, 2012
After a couple years of carrying the burden imposed by a seemingly relentless global economic recession, the whole world, and indeed The Bahamas, is optimistically watching for signs that the storm has past and some type of sustainable recovery is on the way.
There is understandably an eagerness to seize any positive information on the economy, anecdotal or otherwise, and hold it up as incontrovertible evidence that the economic downturn is over and recovery is on the way.
Over the past few weeks a number of positive and upbeat reports on the economy have appeared in the local press. A new business venture has been started; some restaurant chain has added another branch; a recently constructed strip mall has reported full occupancy; air-lift capacity to the country has been expanded; a smaller than expected fiscal deficit has been reported; and in the commercial banking sector, the rate of increase in non-performing loans has moderated. Taken together, those isolated reports would ordinarily be regarded as a source of inspiration -- a reason to rejoice in the expectation of a brighter economic future for the country. But these are not ordinary times.
We are now living in a time where some fundamental structural changes have occurred in the economy and unless and until those issues related to the changes are appropriately addressed, the outlook for the economy must be looked at through a cautionary prism. A closer examination of some of the dark clouds on the horizon would tend to support a cautious approach. To begin with, the continuous rise in oil prices remains a stumbling block to any sustained recovery. Increased oil prices affect not only local motorists by reducing the amount of resources that they have to spend on other goods and services, oil price increases also affect the cost of utilities in The Bahamas and the cost of travel to The Bahamas. Increased travel costs and higher utility bills at our hotels could restrain the growth of our tourist industry and extend the time for laid-off workers to return to the industry. In other words, the current challenges with the unemployment problem, possibly now in the high teens, would persist. An effective plan to significantly reduce the unemployment level is perhaps one of the most urgent requirements for the restoration of economic growth and development.
And, even if we were to magically reduce the level of unemployment in the country and at the same time, provide meaningful jobs for all who were willing and able to work, there would still remain formidable barriers to growth and development. One major obstacle would be the levels of both public and private sector debt. The public sector debt which is approaching $4.5 billion, more than 50 percent of GDP, would in time constrain the government's ability to provide the same level of services (contributions to GDP) because of the resources that would have to be diverted to debt service. Private sector debt (households and businesses), which stands at approximately $6.6 billion or about 80 percent of GDP, has become a problem for the commercial banking sector in that more than $1 billion of the loans are in arrears. What this means is that a high percentage of any new income from the magically-created jobs would have to be applied to debt-servicing instead of normal expenditure in the economy to promote economic growth. It follows, therefore, that another major objective of any economic growth policies would have to take account of the debt overhang in both the private and public sectors.
The construction sector
So far we have noted the potential threat to our main economic sector, tourism, as a result of continually rising oil prices. Additionally, we examined the challenges being faced by our domestic financial services sector. The only other significant sector that contributes in a meaningful way to economic growth is the construction industry, which accounts for about 10 percent of our GDP.
Small and medium-sized construction companies, which build the majority of single-family homes, tend to employ a large pool of skilled and unskilled technical labor and accordingly make a valuable contribution to the economic development effort. Given the historically high level of non-performing mortgage loans (20 percent at the commercial banks and 40 percent at the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation) there is a glut of houses on the market at generally reduced prices and it is unlikely that we will see an appreciable increase in new home construction over the medium-term. Indeed, there is a need for some special housing market programs aimed at not only increasing construction starts but also in assisting delinquent homeowners to keep their properties.
Since our major economic sectors, tourism, banking and construction are unlikely to experience any significant rebound over the short-term, it would appear that it is too early to take a victory lap and it is not yet the time to proclaim that our mission to restore the economy has been accomplished.
o CFAL is a sister company of The Nassau Guardian under the AF Holdings Ltd. umbrella. CFAL provides investment management, research, brokerage and pension services. For comments, please contact CFAL at:email@example.com.
The Minister of Tourism and Aviation says local carriers are "biting the hand that feeds them" by complaining about the lack of support from the government, insisting it is doing all it can to promote the industry.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace told Guardian Business the only way to develop the Family Islands is for local airlines to focus on internal flights, lower their costs and provide a high-quality service - an endeavor he continues to support.
"They don't understand what we are doing on their behalf," he explained.
"They can yell and scream all they want. We believe strongly in developing our local carriers."
The comments follow an ongoing dispute between Skybahamas and Minister of Tourism.
Randy Butler, the CEO of Skybahamas, has been increasingly critical and vocal concerning what he feels is preferential treatment for foreign carriers now offering direct flights to a variety of destinations in the Family Islands.
Vision Air, for example, is now offering $1 direct flights from several U.S. locations, which have been made possible through partnerships with the government and private stakeholders on the islands.
Gulfstream International, which is also in the process of ramping up its flights ahead of the winter season, has also benefited from government collaboration.
Vanderpool-Wallace said one of the major stumbling blocks preventing local carriers from effectively providing direct service from the U.S. is the Global Distribution System (GDS).
Most local carriers, he said, are not on this database to facilitate easy travel between airports and locations.
Meanwhile, the government has supported various initiatives to promote domestic travel to the islands for local carriers, he pointed out, including the buy-one-get-one-free offers.
On the whole, Butler said the companion deal is not effective when promoting their business.
High hotel costs and food prevent many Bahamians from travelling to the family islands, making the promotion less appealing.
"There is a nearsightedness and a lack of strategic planning for the whole industry," he felt.
In regards to the GDS, "investment in that makes no sense", he added. With the proliferation of the internet, he said there was no excuse in terms of the visibility of the airline and the services it offers.
"Fact number two," he said, "is if you're promoting the foreign airlines to go directly to the Family Islands, there is no room for domestic carriers. Why would we invest in it? It would only make sense if they all came to Nassau and then we distributed them to the Family Islands."
With this in mind, Butler argued that focusing on domestic service to the Family Islands was not a practical or lucrative piece of the aviation pie.
Another bone of contention is the licensing of foreign carriers.
Last week, Guardian Business revealed two foreign carriers lacked the proper certification to advertise their fares ahead of the winter season - a fact that was confirmed by the Department of Aviation.
Ormond Russell, the operations officer, said airlines should have this licensing before advertising fares.
Responding to the apparently discrepancy, Vanderpool-Wallace said it's "normal" for the carriers to advertise ahead of certification and an "asterisk was missed somewhere".
Since the report, the minister said one airline had received its certification and the other had signed a promotional agreement.
In honor of all presidents and founders of the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF), this year, the round robin and national championships will be billed as the 'President's Cup' in celebration of 40 years of existence.
Assembling at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, this year will mark the largest amount of teams to participate in the round robin nationals. There will be new champions in both the men and ladies divisions as the defending champions, the Proper Care Whirlpool Lady Sharks out of New Providence and the U.S. Gold Panthers out of Grand Bahama, have both been eliminated.
Islands taking part in the ladies division are Abaco, Andros, Spanish Wells, Inagua, Grand Bahama and New Providence. In the Men's division the islands are Abaco, Andros, Spanish Wells, Grand Bahama and New Providence. As a result of the number of teams this year, the tournament starts on Thursday, November 1. All teams are expected to arrive in New Providence on Thursday.
The technical meeting for league representatives, managers and coaches will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday. At that time, all rosters will be finalized, and rules and regulations will be discussed. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, the competition gets underway when Spanish Wells ladies go up against Andros. At 8 p.m., the same two teams will battle in the men's contest. At 9 p.m., the Grand Bahama ladies will tangle with the Inagua ladies, and the feature game on opening night will pit the New Providence ladies against Abaco ladies.
On Friday, action will pick up at 11 a.m., using three fields at the Baillou Hills complex. At 7 p.m., the official opening ceremony and induction for those selected to the BSF Hall of Fame will take place. Also, all former presidents who have served over the past 40 years, will be recognized, namely Michael Moss, Churchill Tener Knowles, Austin 'King Snake' Knowles, Neko Grant, Greg Christie, Romell Knowles and Burkett Dorsett.
Following the induction ceremony, what is expected to be two of the most exciting games of the tournament will be played when Grand Bahama ladies take on New Providence, and the New Providence men battle Abaco. Also on Friday night, there will be a display by a marching band, a live pop band, disco, fireworks, balloons and many giveaways. The night climaxes with a mix and mingle reception for all players and fans, a Junkanoo rush-out and dancing.
On Saturday, November 3, play resumes at 11 a.m. with a break at 3 p.m. The playoffs get underway on Saturday night at 7 p.m. On Sunday, beginning at 3 p.m., there will be four medal games, followed by the presentation of awards and the closing ceremony.
Those to be inducted into the BSF Hall of Fame under separate categories such as administrators, managers, coaches, umpires, and sponsors for meritorious services, are: Romell Knowles, Charlene Sturrup, Paula Johnson, Eric Williams, Eustace Penn, Vernon Farquharson, Gary Smith, Charles Johnson, Nigel Bootle, Leonard Newton, Michael Colebrooke, Yvonne Lockhart, Sam Knowles, Patrice Braithwaite, Edna Ingraham, George Mills, Alvin Smith, Suzanne Adderley, Brad Smith, Nancy Russell, Thora Sweeting, Lucy Wells, Kay Seiler, Rodney Gibson, Sue Roberts, Sherwin Smith, Cyril Smith, Anthony Weech, Marjorie Delaney, Arthur Johnson, Jeff Roberts, Rudy Gardiner, Eddie McSweeney, Spence Lynes, Joe Deal, Alphonso Albury, Pat Maynard, Bommer George Armbrister, Frank Forbes, Brusell Bradshaw, George Ferguson, Ronald 'Ding' Woodside, Clifford Scavella, Sherry Thompson (posthumously), Monica Woodside (posthumously), Paul 'Dingus' Thompson (posthumously), Bommer's Trucking and Sigma Management Ltd.
The Bahamas is pleased to be at this forum.
It provides a rare opportunity to interact in the multilateral context and in the bilateral context with nations with whom we might never otherwise interact.
The experience is enriching.
I hope it leads to a greater understanding of what The Bahamas is as a country and a greater understanding of the region.
There is a difference between Latin America and the Caribbean, even though we are treated as one region.
THE Scout Association of the Bahamas said it was saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Cyril Raymond Baily, a stalwart in the Scout movement.
Mr Baily, said the Association, was extremely active in the local Movement in the early 1960s when he worked as an Accountant with the firm of Price Waterhouse.
Cyril Baily's life in Scouting began when he joined the Cub-Scouts of the 7th Aintree Pack in Liverpool, England and progressed through the ranks, himself becoming a young Leader. In 1962, he was assigned to The Bahamas by Price Waterhouse and immediately continued his work with the Boy Scouts. His life revolved around basically two themes - assisting young people and service to his communi ...
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Grand Bahama Island - Dolly Madison Home Center is pleased to announce
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