One of the most common words in the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo) these days is ‘change’. The Board of Directors, management and staff have accepted that while change is difficult, not changing and not changing at the right time could be detrimental. Hence, there is a drive currently to carefully implement the strategy to mobilize employees around the changes taking place and keeping them informed on those which are expected.
No doubt these are challenging times but have nevertheless created the opportunity to re-define the Corporation. GuySuCo currently has seven Estates – Wales, Uitvlugt, East Demerara, Rose Hall, Blairmont, Albion and Skeldon. It also has 17,000 employees,; fifteen Health Centres; community centres; an ambulance brigade; a fire brigade, a training centre – GuySuCo Training Centre/Port Mourant (GTC/PM); drainage networks which it maintains within communities and earns US$100M annually in foreign exchange, among others. Therefore on a daily basis it contributes significantly towards the growth and development of at least 80,000 persons, which is approximately one ninth of the population. As the strategy for surviving the transition period and ultimately transforming into a resilient and sustainable business unfolds; serious consideration is being given as to the roles and responsibilities of the management in general and employees at all levels to ensure that they are empowered to secure the success of the Corporation.
The ‘One GuySuCo’
This concept is utilized as an approach for implementing the social mobilization programme that promotes greater internal collaboration, synergies, partnerships and team building to bring employees on board at all locations and divisions, and to promote shared values within the Corporation. Additionally, ‘Putting GuySuCo First’ is the internal campaign used as a mechanism in an effort to achieve the ‘One GuySuCo’ and realize the goals and objectives of the ‘New GuySuCo’.
This campaign is currently being carried out at all locations as Junior and Senior managers undergo a two—day training in ‘Team Building’ over the next month. During these sessions managers are urged to increase efficiencies on estates in all relevant areas, and also their roles and responsibilities for the transition process is emphasized.
Estate Mangers and their teams are critical to the transition process, the ‘New GuySuCo’ and to ensuring that the change process is managed effectively. Therefore it is definitely not business as usual on the Estates and in the Corporation. These managers are exposed to training in the various ways employees may respond to the changes taking place. For example some employees may rapidly embrace the change; others may be reluctant to accept it or may be upset by it, while others may not embrace the change at all.
The training provides managers with insight on how to support employees through the three stages of change in the Corporation – the current state or how things are, through the transition state and to the future state, how things will become.
Developing greater ownership
During the transition process it is important that employees feel a greater sense of ownership and understand that there have to take greater responsibility for their actions. Thus managers are trained to be leaders in the change process and to be change agents; to assist employees in developing a deeper understanding of their roles and responsibilities. The training focuses on building collective and individual ownership by placing greater emphasis on creating shared purpose, transparency, communicating more effectively, sharing benefits and risk and leading from the front.
Developing shared values on Estates
In transitioning the Corporation into a resilient business, changing the industrial relations climate is of critical importance. Consequently, the training focuses on improving relations between GuySuCo and the Unions. The relationship between GuySuCo and the Unions has been combative and adversarial and that has to be transformed to become more progressive. As such, the training examined how to build strong social capital on estates and to use this as a resource for increasing production and productivity. Social capital refers to the relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of social interactions in the Corporation.
It is important to understand that Estates play a pivotal role in developing shared values in the Corporation, since as ssocial relations improve on estates; this will lead to improve relations in the wider Corporation and ultimately increase the possibility of achieving higher targets.
The managers are being trained in facilitating more co-operation and mutually supportive relations. As employees develop greater individual ownership and understand that the success of the estates and the Corporation as a whole rest largely on their commitment to their tasks, the estates and the entity, this will undoubtedly create the environment for a smoother transition and change process.
Finally, as the Second Crop commences, managers on the Estates have pledged to continue to work tirelessly to mobilize and inspire their workforce not only around achieving specific targets for estates but also around the goals and objectives of the ‘New GuySuCo’.
This change management programme will continue over the next year and the target audience includes management and employees. It is in the interest of ALL employees (at every level), their families and communities, to embrace the change not only with regards to the nature of business but also in the way the business is done; by changing work ethic and the level of commitment and overall attitude and behaviour.