How can the government of South Sudan motivate its workers?

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Sunday, 05 July 2009 16:04
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Zechariah Manyok Biar

(Texas, USA)--On July 8, 2008, Ambassador James Pitia Morgan published an article in which he complained that Central Equatoria State was a failed state. Ambassador Morgan complained that women in Juba “every morning sit in front of the offices doing nothing but only knitting their bad sheets and talk about so and so say in Arabic Juba, (Gale gale) throughout the day and expect to be paid at the end of the month” (Gurtong, July 8, 2008).

This article made me think that Ambassador Morgan was unfair to women in Juba. The problem of non-motivated workers seems to be a general problem in South Sudan, not just in Central Equatoria State. The question is: How can the government of South Sudan motivate its workers to do what they are paid for in order to develop the nation?

 It would also be unfair for me not to recognize the effect of twenty-one years of war on our people. Children were born during the war and grew up without knowing the importance of work. What we had learned very well, as Gen. Gier one time put it, was how to destroy buildings, not how to build them. If the body and the mind stay inactive for long time, as research shows, then it takes a great motivation to make them active again. That is why scholars who do not read are a little better than illiterates.

 The question of motivation is not easy to answer in one article; it takes volumes of books to answer it. However, I should use the summary of Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University in my attempt to answer this question. Prof. Pfeffer is a renowned scholar of business.

 When people are told that they should be paid by the end of the month, regardless of how much they do, they always do half-baked job that needs extra time and extra money to finish it. For example, workers can do their work in haste so that they can do other things like knitting their bad sheets, as Ambassador Morgan put it.

On the other hand, when workers are told that they should be paid on hourly bases, they can slow down and do the work of one day in two days so that they can have enough hours for pay. That means a government will spend a lot of money for little job done.

If workers are graded so that they get rewarded for their good job, then not every employer will be fair in grading the workers. Unfairness in grading will then turn workers into gossipers and even contributors to failures of their departments or companies because they think they are acting against their unfair bosses.

However, reward for good performance is still popular here in the United States despite the fact that it could be abused. We know that human beings are not perfect. I recommend rewarding of hard government and private workers as one way of motivating them.

We know that we do all kinds of things in Sudan just to have good name. Singers sing without getting any financial benefit, but they enjoy what they do because they become popular. People give their lives during the war in order to have good name than to run away from war and be branded as cowards.

These same things happen here in the West. But a good name here has concrete benefit. That is the reason why you hear banks awarding millions of dollars as bonus to successful managers. People do not complain here in the United States when successful bank managers or company managers get millions of dollars as their bonuses or as their salaries. People only complain if failed bank awards bonuses to managers that let the bank failed. Bonuses are motivators for good work, even though it is not always true.

American soldiers are very brave because one gets a medal for being war hero. This medal can even be awarded posthumously because it is a source of pride to the deceased soldier’s family.

We also know that Nobel Prizes act as motivators for extraordinary achievers all over the world. Nobel Prices do not solve people’s financial problems, but people struggle to get them even if they are billionaires. So the issue is not about wealth, it is about fame. All human beings want to be famous. Money is next to fame for most of us human beings.

Prof. Pfeffer believes that assigning people to different positions every time is a motivator. He believes that people get bored when they do one thing over and over again. I think this is why reshuffle of government ministers is a great motivator for good performance even if the same ministers are rotated. They become new in new positions and try to work hard to leave the new ministry better than they found it.

If the government of South Sudan introduced award for people who stand out in their services to the nation at every level, then I believe few people would be sitting and gossiping without doing their jobs. Everybody would undoubtedly be working hard to be the best at least once in their career life. This trick does wonders.

Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He is a regular contributor to The New Sudan Vision website. For comments, contact him at email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.