Rev­enue off tar­get

Finweek English Edition - - Letters - PRO­FES­SOR JOHN CARLISLE

THE SA REV­ENUE SER­VICE suf­fers from the mal­ady brought on by a cul­ture of tar­gets and in­cen­tives that will over­ride any other val­ues it claims to es­pouse. As the late Dr Dem­ing said: “If you set peo­ple tar­gets they will achieve them, even if it means the de­struc­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.” That hap­pened in Bri­tain in its Na­tional Health Ser­vice, in ed­u­ca­tion and in lo­cal gov­ern­ment and brought about by a wit­less gov­ern­ment, which didn’t have a clue as to how or­gan­i­sa­tions re­ally work.

Rev­enue’s ex­ec­u­tive needs to ap­pre­ci­ate that, with a nat­u­ral sta­tis­ti­cal vari­a­tion of be­tween R10bn and R90bn/month there’s no in­cen­tive that will pro­duce the re­sults it needs. The best peo­ple can do is cheat the tar­get sys­tem – the out­comes of which I be­lieve Dave King is com­plain­ing.

All the symp­toms are there of an anomic cul­ture brought about by the stress of man­age­ment tar­gets, huge sys­temic vari­a­tion and chang­ing leg­is­la­tion – all of which dis­em­power em­ploy­ees, lead­ing to stress, high turnover and, worst of all, of­fen­sive cus­tomer be­hav­iour. There’s an ab­so­lute par­al­lel with the col­lapse of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor in Bri­tain.

It’s time, as you sug­gest (“Un­happy re­turns”, 6 Novem­ber), for Rev­enue’s lead­er­ship to take stock. And it’s time for or­gan­i­sa­tions ev­ery­where to get rid of the idea that tar­gets and bonuses work.

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