One would hate to be in the shoes of the Chief of Army Staff these days. Having to wake up every morning dreading what bombshell the newspapers would bring can’t be a pleasant experience. Being at the helm of an organisation consisting of over 10, 00,000 bodies in this age of scandal hungry public and an ever obliging media, this is a cross that he perhaps has to bear. The sad part is that the antics of a few black sheep with unbridled libido, greed or ambition inevitably overshadow the sterling work done by the other 99.9% comprising the organisation. The latest scandal screaming at us from the headlines and ubiquitous red ticker tapes of breaking news is yet another such incident.
There is a need to drastically cut down on all non-core activities that serve not only to detract efforts from professional pursuits but also provide opportunities for career advancement to those thriving on these.
Training events must reflect this professionalism and should be shorn of attempts at showmanship, and consequent assessments must also be on professional basis. In fact, the need for a revamp of the entire assessment system has been talked about for long but there have been only cosmetic changes limited by the stifled imagination of the MS Branch. For a comprehensive reform of the appraisal system, there is a need to throw out the old rule book and take a fresh look at the entire game. The reporting officers up the chain of command must be made to exercise their moral courage by being less non-committal about their assessments. We need to change the environment where an overwhelming majority of the reports are like a ‘dining out speech’. The reporting must be less generic, and unequivocal. For instance, how can attributes like loyalty and integrity be rated on an analog scale? Logically, these are qualities that are either present or absent in the absolute, and half measures or shades of grey are not possible. Also, the reviewing officers up the chain need to make greater efforts to familiarize themselves with their indirect reports, and must also be made accountable for their assessments. To make the appraisal system truly meaningful, a 360 degrees appraisal must be put in place.
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