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From now on, company heads will bear personal responsibility for their employees’ failure

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From now on, company heads will bear personal responsibility for their employees’ failure, and directors will carry more authority, being permitted to deprive careless workers of bonuses (for up to a year)

If top managers fail to fulfil obligations, they’ll be dismissed, in line with a governmental ruling; they will only resume a leading position after receiving approval from their local executive committee. The Head of the Economic Theory Department of the Academy of Public Administration (under the aegis of the President of Belarus), Irina Novikova, explains how the country plans to nurture a hub of efficient directors.

How can this problem be solved?

There’s no easy recipe. In Soviet times, relatives were often appointed to run smaller enterprises, with family members in higher positions covering for inadequacies: all possible in the planned Soviet economy. Now, companies are required to make money independently and lack of competence can lead to bankruptcy.

A decade ago, the President noted that foreign custom was being lost due to marketing specialists lacking language skills. On hearing foreign speech, they’d even hang up the phone. Naturally, such behaviour leads to loss of export revenue. State companies now employ a range of criteria to check that those appointed have the relevant skills, being interviewed at the Academy of Public Administration, and passing mental and physical assessments.

At the moment, we lack top managers: in Grodno, 39 such vacancies were open as of January 1st. It often happens that directors’ offices are closed for several months. Can you explain why this happens?

It’s a failure on the part of ministries and agencies supervising state run enterprises. They need to prepare lists of those who can be held in reserve to step in from other plants and organisations.

We can interview workers from lower positions and it’s quite possible that a suitable candidate might be found. Another issue is disclosing those who are failing in their duties. A new system is needed, alongside solid training for those in management positions.

Looking at Internet sites devoted to employment, it’s noticeable that top managers’ salaries do not always meet expectations. How much should a director expect to earn (inclusive of bonuses)?

Basic salaries need to tie in to a system of performance bonuses — related to export revenue, production volumes and domestic sales.

Senior managers need knowledge. Our universities offer several dozen relevant courses, with the aim of training tomorrow’s industrial leaders. Of course, a director must be aware of their company’s specific niche. Before becoming a top manager, the Japanese move up the ladder, gradually enhancing their qualifications. Is our system of training efficient?

We offer employees the chance to enhance their qualifications and train while working but some aspects remain unsettled. In my view, an efficient system would feature workers paying for their own training, with their company having the option of refunding them. For this scheme to be launched, legislative changes are necessary.

By Valeria Gavrusheva
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