Human Resources

I feel the earth falling off its axis

Beware, calamity is about to befall us all and not from Global Warming either….

Cactus Kate and Darien Fenton agree on something:

HR for Political Parties, Ctd

KPI type measurement has a great weakness. It doesn’t include simple deal breakers, results or behaviour that deserve immediate termination.

The Moroney Effect proves this. Sue could diligently work away on all criteria in parliament but come election day she will only increase the majority of her National opponent.

This overrides any combination of KPIs. She is a failure and needs to be excised.

That is why there needs to be a No Dickheads Rule.

HR for Political Parties, Ctd

For HR to work there needs to be direct repercussions for inept or unacceptable performance.

This means List MPs who everyone knows are useless need to be moved on. MPs in safe seats who are equally useless and offer little to the party need to be replaced by high quality candidates.

Many useless MPs are useless due to being ill suited to the job, not because they are malicious or deliberately useless. It is a bit like a player who is selected for the All Blacks when there are a rash of injuries, someone who just doesn’t have the talent to make it permanent, but gets a step up due to circumstances or a mistake in selection. Unfortunately for political parties MPs can’t be dropped as quickly as All Blacks, and many hang on even though everyone knows they are useless.

Dropping MPs is an important part of building a winning team, just as dropping players is important for the All Blacks.

National is as guilty as any party of retaining useless MPs who offer little and block the path to caucus for someone more talented. Katrina Shanks immediately springs to mind, a woman who doesn’t have good credentials, has never really made it, nor will ever make it, and is not a team player. If National had a proper candidates college or a President that was not embarrassingly useless then Katrina would have been discretely asked what role she wanted outside of parliament, and whether she could help National find another a decent candidate who will follow instructions and who could make a far more effective MP than her pathetic efforts.

To have a strong HR function requires a strong party structure. National don’t have this, and since Judy Kirk left the candidates college has become almost as big a joke as the President.

HR for political parties, Ctd

I have been sent a suggested list of possible methods of creating KPIs for politicians by a National party insider. Labour would do well to look at some of these suggestions.

There clearly needs to be a mix of indicators. An overemphasis of one at the expense of others means you get an MP who will coast.

1. Party votes – the ultimate indicator of worth. Obviously this needs to be subjective since every electorate is different in terms of worth to the party, but there can be some kind of assessment whether the MP did a great job of winning the PV in their seat. Did they beat the previous election result, did they over or under perform against the average result, is the result reflecting the kind of PV needed in a “blue” or “red” seat.  Deb Mahuta-Coyle is probably regarded as next to useless because of her appalling result in Tauranga for Labour. She may never get a decent Parliamentary opportunity again because her colleagues know she can’t win votes.

2. Electorate vote – Obviously, people who win seats are better MPs. Sadly, list MPs who only go for PV are not quite as recognised for effectiveness, since they don’t bring in extra resources that come with a seat, not have the ability to keep an organisation going. MPs who win marginals and hold them should be highly regarded. The obvious KPI is “Did they win?”, followed by “Did they over or underpeform against the swing”. Louisa Wall will be regarded well in Labour for winning Manurewa well.

3. Membership – MPs who support organisations that grow membership have power that grows with it. A good MP is one who finds good people to help run their seat and grow membership, hold functions, engage in report backs and fundraise. John Carter would have to be regarded as a superior MP in recent years on this KPI, whereas Paula Bennett and Murray McCully would score dismally in this regard.

4. Media coverage – obviously positive news rubs off on the character of the MP. For a backbencher, that means getting into the local suburban paper for useful things showing community benefit. This doesn’t mean posing at ribbon cuttings for a community hall that was commissioned by the council, but rather posing with community constables recently coming into service due to boosted police numbers.

5. Name recognition – closely linked to media coverage. Lots of people know the names of Simon Bridges, because he is successful for Tauranga and gets good media. However, other politicians get name recognition because they get drunk and piss on trees, or maybe they they want to compulsorily arm Muslim taxi drivers. Everyone knows who those idiots are. The KPI in this category would need to carry plus scores and minus scores.

6. Parliamentary business – again subjective. Large numbers of PQs might only suggest they have a staff member who can ask loads of questions. But unless you ask questions, you don’t get answers that help drive stories of public concern to win votes.

7. Fundraising – an MP who can bring in money for their party is valuable. Someone who has good connections to fundraising sources is indispensable. Someone who is too frightened to ring around the Rotary Club asking for $100 from each member is probably not going to hack it as a successful MP. Even a good left-wing electorate MP should be able to raise a bit of money from small business people if they are personally liked.

8. Campaign skills –  Does this MP run a decent campaign – not just an election, but an issues campaign that crops up during the course of the term. Do they take the lazy way of campaigning and wave signs around or bother shoppers at their local supermarket or pub? Do they aggravate people on social media? Or do they take a professional approach, using skilled volunteers to identify pockets of potential support and then work them over with doorknocking, phone calls, written material and more? Do they work over the media about their campaign, and can they find decent photo opportunities to make their point. For example, Nikki Kaye had a technically competent campaign that helped withstand the tactical voting tricks of the Greens and Labour.

9. X-Factor –  Either you have it or you don’t. Amy Adams and Simon Bridges have X-Factor. David Shearer and Mark Mitchell do too. Richard Prosser doesn’t. Neither does Colin King. While those MP don;t have X-Factor, Darien Fenton has the exact opposite of X-Factor turning away more voters than than she wins, if any.

10. Mark on Parliament – What laws have they passed, and what have they done for us lately? What initiatives have they started that improved the lives of people? Brian Neeson weakly raised the fact he helped microchip dogs when he was challenged by John Key. People didn’t care. He hadn’t made a mark on Parliament in the years he was there. Jackie Blue did well with herceptin for women, but seems to have gone invisible since then. Are they an attack dog, perhaps an effective debater who makes logical useful points that other MPs want to listen to? Or are they just a drone who can’t string two sentences together even when some hard working researcher gives them everything they need to say?

HR for political parties, Ctd

Yesterday I blogged about the need for proper human resources management in political parties, in particular dealing with hopeless performers.

The old saying in business is “what gets measured, gets done” and so it must be for MPs. You can’t hold them to account by some sort of amorphous and transient scheme of measuring their success or otherwise.

That really means defining some sort of KPI system for parties and voters to hold politicians to account.

It can’t be useless either because the flip side of measuring something is that behaviour adjusts to only those things that are measured. I’ll give an example. A mate of mine has a large team of sales reps. He adjusts their targets and goals every quarter to focus on different outcomes for the business that he requires. Their commissions an bonuses depend on meeting the changing and evolving KPIs.

In parliament it would be useless to set a target, for example, of a certain number of written questions. If you did you would get plonkers like Grant Robertson who would fire off 500 in the first month then sit back and point to his massive success in meeting that KPI without actually achieving anything.

No, the KPIs would have to include party specific items as well. Like growing membership. Now you might say that shouldn’t happen but think about it for a moment. The best MPs I know have massive party membership, the poor MPs and those continually at risk have low membership. By being engaging and in your electorate and available means people identify with you and identify with your party. A strong membership also allows you to turn out masses of volunteers and dominate in the ground war, leading people to again identify effectiveness and seek to join.

There is of course a problem with the List MPs. They are like the sales people on high retainers and low commission structures in a business. There is no reward for them to toil and as a consequence, generally, are fat dumb and lazy. About the only exception is unless they are a senior manager. KPIs for these politicians is a ust since there is no real ability to toss them out unlike electorate MPs.

Still there is a problem for parties if MPs are failing to deliver. New Zealand doesn’t have a recall system and with the expiry of the waka jumping legislation it is almost impossible to get rid of them altogether.

If you have ideas for a KPI system for politicians then I’m all ears. Political parties need a mechanism for measuring politicians, that way things will get done.