Saturday, October 29, 2011

不勝任的社會

不勝任的社會
解讀彼得原理
吳曉波



很多同事對彼得原理都不會陌生。這是一本有趣的管理學讀物,圖文並茂,十多年前風行一時,大家都對它所描述的現象取笑一番。亦有學者跟進,研究這些現象。我找到這一本中文書,以作者在教育機構的管理經驗,印證彼得原理,並指出其謬誤和破解方法。

當彼德先生開始寫他的原理時,它們只是一些在報章刊登的小品文章。但他幽默的文筆和新奇的見解很受讀者歡迎,後來他就將之編輯成書,又成為暢銷書籍。彼德原理以幽默手法描寫金字塔式結構組織內一些不完美的現象,以嬉笑的方式嘲笑他們。有些笑話可令人一笑,但彼德先生自命為管理學專家,又設身處地分析他曾處理的個案,所以有很多頭腦簡單,不去詳細思考的讀者會將彼德原理視為真理。這些將笑話或歪理視為真理的現象,我們經常都會遇上。

彼得原理很簡單:「在一個等級制度中,每個員工趨向於上升至他所不能勝任的地位。」這個邏輯基於在等級制度下,晉升的條件就是要員工在本位勝任,到最後到達一個不能勝任的等級,就永久停留不再晉升。這個邏輯作無限引申,就得出一個結論:在所有機構之內,位於高等級的員工全不勝任,所以有不勝任的機構,再者有不勝任的政府,以至有不勝任的社會,因為這些組織都是等級式結構。

這是一個很消極的看法。環顧四周,大家可以看到社會生氣勃勃,機構之間競爭激烈,就算是守舊的政府內都有很多有朝氣的員工。大小組織都不如彼得原理所說停留於彼得高原而不勝任。彼得原理出了問題,主要原因有好幾個。

所有人都不會有無限的能力,但總會找到或被人找到他可以勝任的工作。如果他勝任現時的工作,就有機會晉升到能力要求較高的工作。一個人一生工作的時間只有幾十年,而要在本位勝任而又在晉升競爭中勝出需要一段時間。一般人通常一生工作會遇上數次晉升機會,彼得原理說最後一次晉升就到達了不勝任的彼得高原。這個結論並不正確,因為時間有限,大多數能力一般的人到老可能仍未晉升到這階段。亦有一些能力很強的人,做了一生工作經多次晉升仍未到達其能力極限。

晉升機會不是自然地當員工勝任其工作時就出現。一個晉升包含很多因素,有些是員工或機構都不能預知。空缺的出現和經濟環境、機構營運表現和員工流動情況都有關係。一個員工留在原位並不一定是他不勝任,而是在等待較高等級的空缺。而且勝任的員工很多,晉升競爭通常都很激烈,自然會有勝任的員工尚且留在原來位置。

最重要的一點,是彼得原理想當然的以為晉升帶來的新挑戰和新工作要求會使員工不能適應以致不能勝任。這個現象在專家行業較易出現,因為其較高等級的工作會有管理原素,和基本的專業工作有很大分別;在管理行業這個衝擊就較易應付。但新的工作要求不代表員工會不勝任。所有機構都會給員工不斷的培訓,以應付新挑戰;而大部份人亦會不斷進修以增強自己的能力。這些當然的行為都使員工繼續勝任他的工作。

但彼得原理所描述的現象確是事實,只不過是部份的事實,作者稱之為彼得陷阱。彼得原理只指出了陷入了陷阱的員工,他們存在於所有等級式結構的組織,但他們並不是大多數。有一小部份員工其能力有限;但因為一些不準確的工作評核,加上鬆懈的晉升選拔,或是因緣際遇沒有競爭而被晉升到一個超乎其能力的位置;再加上他們不思進取,缺乏自我增值的動力,到最後才墮入彼得陷阱。行政主任職系對彼得陷阱防範嚴密,先有一個非常複雜的表現評核,主要計對評估核心能力,再有完善的晉升遴選機制,之後各層級都有良好培訓計劃。如果仍要陷入彼得陷阱,都無話可說了。

Friday, October 28, 2011

Civil service pension reform in UK

At time of hardship, civil service pension is always seen as the fat of the potbelly ready to be trimmed. This is particular felt as people now live longer and pensioners receive pension for a longer period, costing the government more. The pension calculation based on final salary is also a point of contention. The UK government is now proposing a reform of the civil service pension. Please see the BBC news below. The main change is not to link pension to final salary but to average salary throughout the career. In order to sell to staff, the total amount of pension in general must be comparable to the present scheme, but the retirement age will be delayed to 67. The new schemes would be applicable to the serving officers on current pension schemes.

We experienced reform of civil service pension in Hong Kong before. The New Pension Scheme of 1987 lured many colleagues into joining because of the 100% increase of the commuted pension. The cost is the increase of pension factor so that one would need to work longer to get the same pension. Also, statutory retirement age was delayed to 60. Then came the 2000 reform where pension was abolished for new recruits. All new comers have to join the Civil Service Provident Fund Scheme which was said to provide a larger sum at the time of retirement. However, part of the amount was based on investment return which was not guaranteed. In fact, performance of the investment of the scheme proved to be worse than expected in the last few years.

As the demographic leans towards the aged worldwide, the burden of the aged is being looked at more seriously. Almost everywhere there is proposal on the delaying of retirement and a critical look on pension payment. If the UK government is successful in the reform, the Hong Kong Government may take it as a good guide. There are still many serving officers who are entitled to pension. Possible actions could be the adjustment of the statutory retirement age, and possibly the pension calculation. There could also be temptation to modify the pension adjustment mechanism as the UK Government did. Let's hope the Basic Law can protect us from these changes.

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Career average pensions for the public sector
Money Talk by John Wright
Head of public sector pensions, Hymans Robertson
BBC 27 October 2011 Last updated at 23:04 GMT



The design of huge, new, pension schemes for more than five million staff in the public sector is starting to emerge. Following the recommendations earlier this year of Lord Hutton's independent report into the future of public sector pensions, the government is negotiating with public service trade unions. One of Lord Hutton's big ideas was that all staff in the public sector should be moved out of their current pension schemes. That would apply to staff in the NHS, local government, civil service, schools, and the various "uniformed" services: the armed forces, fire brigades and Police.

They will be offered instead membership of so-called career average schemes, from 2015. Until now, it has not been clear exactly how the government intended to design these new pension arrangements. They can vary in detail very considerably, and the detail can make a big difference to how much they cost to fund, and how generous or meagre they are for employees.

The BBC has learned all the main details, which means we can now assess how these schemes might compare to those currently in place. The main features are these:

The higher pension contributions now being asked of public sector staff in their mainly final-salary pensions - averaging an extra 3.2% of their salaries over the next three years - will carry over to the new schemes. Contributions will be less for lower earners. The standard 'accrual rate' will be 1/65th. On a salary of £20,000 this gives a pension of £308 a year for each year worked. This is less than the 1/60th accrual rate in place for most final-salary schemes currently, which gives a pension of £333 for each year worked. However, working longer could mean a bigger pension at retirement. The revaluation of pension entitlement each year during accrual will be in line with a measure of average earnings, to protect pensions from inflation as they are being built up. That will mean better pensions for many workers, particularly women, and means the perception that all staff will necessarily receive smaller pensions is wrong.

The normal pension age will rise in line with the state pension age (SPA), which will increase from 65 to 66 by 2020, and to 67 by 2027 as life expectancy increases. Pensions in payment will be inflation-proofed, rising in line with the consumer prices index (CPI). Benefits under the current schemes were previously linked to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) but with effect from April 2011 they changed to using CPI. This change is currently being challenged in the courts by trade unions.

From the government's point of view, the proposals are designed to address the rising cost of pensioners living much longer and the perceived unfairness of the current final-salary pension system. Some staff will be better off in a career average scheme, argues John Wright. The government wants to maintain the amount that workers receive in retirement (especially for lower earners) but preserve guaranteed, salary-linked benefits that are increasingly rare in the private sector. The reforms will affect only future pension entitlements for existing scheme members from 2015......
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