Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Transferred, or demitting office? PM Modi wants you to hand over “note for the successor”, and not just verbal briefing

Home secy Anil Goswami (R) taking charge from RK Singh (File)
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi has asked officers who are retiring or leaving one office for another to hand over a written “note for the successor”, a practice which is technically in vogue, yet rarely practised. Usually, an officer gives a verbal briefing to her successor. “A need for re-institutionalizing the practice of leaving ‘note for the successor’ was highlighted by Hon’ble Prime Minister during the presentation of the M/o Personnel, PG and Pensions on 12 June 2014,”, a DoPT office memorandum (OM) dated September 26, 2014 said. Now, the DoPT has now directed...
competent authorities to “impress upon officers in their organizations to cultivate the habit of leaving behind ‘note for the successor’ when they move out. “It is also emphasized that all CTIs (Central Training Institutes)/ATIs (Administrative Training Institutes) should include inputs on “note for the successor” in their training programs so that officers are sensitized towards this important organizational responsibility,” the OM said.
In this highly well-written and philosophical office memorandum, "knowledge" is defined as “a key driver of organizational efficiency and effectiveness, an intangible and one of the most valuable assets of an organization”. Then it said, knowledge is “much than the ‘hard’ information available in files, notesheets, correspondence, documents, SOPs, MOPs, and electronic databases”. It said, all employees have “invaluable knowledge” of their areas of responsibility, which may be “much more nuanced and integrated than those mentioned earlier (hard information available in files, notesheets, correspondence, documents etc.)
It often happens that such innate knowledge gets lost when the incumbent gets transferred or demits office. New employee usually takes time to understand key issues, appreciate urgency of actionable points, recognize strengths and weaknesses of subordinates. Mostly they comprehend critical issues by trial and error. “This time spent in negotiating the way in new environment, spent in trial and error, may turn out to be the critical difference between success and failure of the unit, the department or even the organization,” the OM further said.
“Thus, knowledge continuity in wake of employee transition needs to be recognized as a key challenge: more so in the government where rule based personnel polices mandate a fixed tenure. Problem of knowledge continuity can be significantly tackled if incumbent employee, with overall goal of success of the organization in mind, considers the successor as a part of same team and transfers the knowledge that he/she considers critical. Such knowledge transfer can be by personal interaction and briefing. However, written notes for the successor serve the purpose more effectively and also help build institutional memory. In government, though this practice used to be in vogue, of late it is becoming rare,” the OM said.
In some key appointments like cabinet secretary, home secretary or defence secretary, the successor officer is often attached as an OSD for a fortnight, allowing that person to work together with the incumbent and learn the tricks of the game.

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