Moldova – Development and Piloting the Managerial Training Programme for Civil Service Top Managers

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Challenge

The introduction in 2013 by the Moldovan administration of legal provisions supporting the introduction of a new senior civil service position, that of State Secretary, foreshadowed a new approach to management in Moldovan Ministries.  The role of the new State Secretaries as the top administrative level in Moldovan Government Ministries, centred on the separation of political and administrative responsibility for the overall management of the organisation and staff of the respective Ministry and providing greater accountability for executive functions within its portfolio.  Pre-existing arrangements had left such management responsibilities relatively undefined and largely within the remit of junior Ministers by default.

During the inception phase of the Managerial Training Programme project, however, it became apparent that the appointment of State Secretaries had not yet started and that there were major logistical issues that would need to be resolved before such appointments would be possible.  The conclusion was reached at that stage, therefore, that the activities of the project should not uniquely focus on the prospective State Secretary appointments, but should be capable of being applied to senior and top management roles more generally.

The challenges for PAI were three-fold:

  • To prepare a set of management competencies for the State Secretary role, taking account of the intended boundary between politicians and professional administrative management, relieving Ministers of a range of operational management tasks and providing an opportunity for improved management practice.
  • To design and pilot a Managerial Training Programme (MTP), intended as a comprehensive and mandatory development programme for people newly appointed to the position of State Secretary.
  • To equip a team of trainers within and outside the Moldovan Government administration to deliver the programme.

Situation

The project was one of the measures foreseen in the Central Public Administration Reform (CPAR) pursued by the Government of Moldova with financial support from the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF).  The CPAR aims at building a modern, efficient and transparent central public administration aligned to the European Union principles of good governance.  The specific objectives of the CPAR are to: a) reorganise the Government Office, Ministries and subordinated bodies; b) improve the legal framework; c) optimise the decision-making process; d) improve human resource management; e) enhance public finance management, and f) strengthen the dialogue with stakeholders and ensure their effective participation in public administration reform activities.

At the start of project implementation the legal provisions underpinning the new State Secretary positions were in place, but no progress had been made in appointing staff to the new roles.  Because of this delay, at the suggestion of the beneficiary (the Moldovan State Chancellery) the focus of the project was initially to be on senior managers whose roles most closely mirror the functions envisaged for the future appointees.  It was therefore inescapable that the target population for the MTP was likely to vary in terms of skills, experience and training need from the originally intended group of participants.

The approach proposed was first to design a set of management competencies for the new cadre of State Secretaries, principally as a basis for the structure and content of the MTP but also for potential future use in other human resources management contexts, including recruitment and selection, performance appraisal and training.

While reflecting the competency set, the Management Training Programme needed to address a series of specific management issues prevailing in the Moldovan central government administration, including:

  • Lack of recognition among top managers of the need for administrative reform within the Moldovan administration.
  • Notwithstanding good practice existing in the administration, it is often not consolidated to form a coherent system. Specifically, the responsibilities of top managers for human resources management (HRM) were not fully recognised.

During the development of the MTP, project timescales demanded that a team of trainers nominated by the State Chancellery be introduced to the content of the programme and, where necessary, be given the skills needed to deliver it to future groups of senior managers.

Activities

Our team of international and local consultants provided consultancy support on:

  • Analysis of the current managerial competencies and gaps in managerial processes and competencies compared to those in countries with an advanced management culture.  This work included a series of interviews with existing senior post-holders in Moldovan Government institutions whose tasks and levels of responsibility most closely matched those envisaged for the new State Secretaries.  In this way it was possible to gain a perspective of current attitudes to administrative reform, perceptions of the state of administrative capacity in Government, perceived skills gaps and obstacles to improving administrative performance.
  • Development of a set of management competences for the public administration in Moldova.  With the use of focus groups from across the Moldovan central Government administrations, the findings from the interviews with senior managers were reviewed by managers and human resources specialists.  One of our consultants then produced a draft competency set for refinement and as a basis for the development of the MTP content and structure.
  •  Development of curricula for the module-based MTP and relevant training materials.  In undertaking this task, our consultants focused their work not only on management and interpersonal relations theory, but also on practical skills needed for effective management in the workplace.  The MTP content also included relevant case studies promoting in-depth understanding of concepts and giving practical experience in new competencies/skills.
  •  Design and deliver a train-the-trainer (TOT) programme for the selected trainers.  Our role was to work with a group of potential trainers from various backgrounds, both within and outside the Moldovan administration, refreshing and updating their training and development skills, introducing them to the emerging content of the MTP and methods to be used in optimising the outcomes from its delivery.
  • Piloting the MTP and adapting the curricula and training materials according to the results.  Since the intended State Secretaries had not been appointed, the development of the MTP was broadened to take account of top management skills more generally – essentially the skills and competencies needed to achieve high performance in the public service environment.
  • Analysis of the intensive training programmes aimed at developing managerial competences in the region for top civil service managers in order to identify a model or several options for the Moldovan civil service. This work, originally envisaged as a means of benchmarking Moldovan administrative management practice against best practice examples from other administrations as a basis for the MTP, was used rather as a way of providing six international examples highlighting different approaches taken to top management development. In this way, the analysis identified alternative approaches for the future development of the top management cadre of the Moldovan administration.

Outcomes

The outcomes of the project were:

  •  A technical note on models and approaches applied for professional development of public sector managers in exemplar administrations, related to the status quo in Moldova and the approaches to be adopted in the project.
  • A revised project plan based on published terms of reference detailing the approach, main activities and related deliverables and project timing for agreement with the beneficiary.
  •  Draft and final curricula of a Training of Trainers programme (TOT) to equip local trainers to deliver the MTP in future.
  • Draft and final curricula for the MTP, including training materials in English and Romanian (before piloting and revised after piloting).
  • 20 trainers trained to deliver the MTP through a 5-day TOT programme.
  •  Draft and final versions of a trainers’ manual in English and Romanian for the ongoing delivery of the MTP.
  •  Pilot of the MTP delivered to 20 civil service managers.
  •  Final report summarising the achievements of the project and providing recommendations to the State Chancellery on institutionalising the MTP and assuring its sustainability.