The workshop is being held under the auspices of the Presidential Executive Office in order to improve the management skills of senior regional officials.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues.
We are meeting today in an unusual format – at a training seminar. This is somewhat of a rare occasion for managers and leaders of your level and experience.
But I imagine that many of you feel the need today to enhance your management skills and knowledge. The words of one famous character: “why should I learn when I can teach others” do not apply to us.
Making state administration and government more effective is one of the key areas of our common work. Change is needed here, and I am sure that you no doubt sense this yourselves. The world around us is changing faster than we are, but we must keep up, cannot fall behind.
We have many tasks before us, difficult tasks. Their main substance is outlined in the executive orders issued in May last year. It has become more important than ever now to address these issues which have direct bearing on developing business activity, creating highly productive jobs, building homes, schools, and kindergartens, and ultimately, on creating the conditions for families to prosper and have more children.
These are very concrete goals. Equally concrete measures were taken for achieving them and instructions have been given. Now we just need to make this all reality. I know that you are experienced people and know very well just what properly carrying out instructions means. But we must really resolve the problems and not simply produce reports to the effect.
I already said this at the meeting with the deputy prime ministers, where we discussed the executive orders’ implementation. I want to make it clear that I will evaluate the results of work by the authorities at every level not on the basis of formal reports, but by the real changes in people’s lives.
Yesterday, as you know, the Russian Popular Front was established as a public movement. I hope very much that it will provide an additional tool and means of communication between the various government bodies and officials at the different levels and the public, between civil society and state organisations.
Colleagues, I ask you in this respect to help the Front’s representatives in their work. I hope they will be active, have an impact on resolving the problems before us, and will take part in and influence elections at the different levels too.
And so I hope to see active work, and hope that these active people, who share the common goal and desire of making our people’s lives better, will help us in this work.
I note that business organisations, even big companies, have very low levels of management skills, and the favourable export situation has weakened many businesses in this respect. The result is that, apart from some raw materials exporters and the defence industry leaders, we have few Russian companies and brands with stable and competitive international management structures.
We do have companies working to international standards in the financial sector now. But unfortunately, many of our economic management personnel still do not have the skills and knowledge standard for the international professional community today.
The direct consequence in many cases is that the competitiveness of some sectors, and the level of management too, remain rather low.
This is true of public sector organisations, which are stuck in an almost archaic management culture. It has become habit to motivate people to be productive through punishment rather than incentives. Getting promotions often depends not on how well employees work, but on their connections to the bosses.
The regional and municipal organisations also have an enormous number of management problems. There is little public feedback and civil society oversight, and the opinions of professional communities and the public get ignored. Decisions are sometimes made completely out of the public eye, unfortunately, without any kind of broad public discussion or expert assessment. Instead of real work, we get ‘measures’, when what we need are results.
Even neighbouring regions with practically the same economic conditions at the outset achieve different results, and the gap between them is sometimes very big. This means that there is definitely potential to tap into if we improve the quality of management.
Late last year, at the State Council, we discussed how to make the regions more attractive to investors. Examples were given then of the fundamental differences in approach used in particular regions and the results obtained.
When you look at the reality, you see that it takes 150 days to get a construction permit in Surgut, say, but 448 days in Tver. What do regional and climatic specificities have to do with anything here? It takes 19 days to register property in Kaluga, but 60 days in Yakutsk. It takes 123 days to get connected to the electricity supply system in Saratov, but 360 days in Yekaterinburg. What kind of situation is this?
These figures reflect above all the attitude towards one’s work and the attitude towards people. They reflect the local authorities’ concern about making services accessible, affordable, cutting red tape, and how much they value the time and effort of economic actors and citizens. If a dynamic, responsible and result-oriented style of work dominates in the government bodies and municipal organisations, there will definitely be demand for modern management methods. If this is not the style of work that dominates, if the opposite is true, then management decisions too will be generally of poor quality, primitive and ineffective.
This kind of inert and indifferent approach is simply not up to the tasks before us and the goals we have set today. We need to go about our work competently and efficiently, and get the public and the professional groups broadly involved. If things are not going right, then we need to learn from our colleagues who are using modern management concepts and methods with success, look to the best world standards and learn from best Russian and international practice.
I am sure that the public sector can become a leader in spreading a modern management culture, and, as one of the biggest employers, set an example for the entire economy and social sector. The regional heads must lead this work to develop modern and responsible government.
This seminar is giving you the chance to learn about the experience of Russian and foreign companies, and this kind of contact is always useful. After all, one and the same successful management method can be used in business and in state administration, with the needed adjustments and limits of course, but the same approaches are possible. And if we see that a practice has proven its effectiveness, we should take it on board.
Education, learning new skills and knowledge, promoting competent people with initiative, and dialogue with the public should be the backbone of personnel work. A regional head who is himself a competent manager will try to put together a team of similarly effective people and won’t be afraid of modern and effective people.
This is extremely important. You are all experienced leaders. If someone feels confident, he will want to have just such strong and confident people working alongside him, and overall the team will produce good results.
People who do not feel confident and do not possess these modern management skills will look for others similar to themselves, and this will ultimately affect their results, and not for the better.
Let me say a few words in conclusion.
Colleagues, as you know well, human resources work and training was quite well-organised during the Soviet period and produced some good results. The important thing is that it must not become a mere formality.
I remember when I was working in the organisation that you all know, work in this area was set on very strict lines. You worked 3–4 years in one place, then would be sent back to Moscow for ongoing training for a year. That was a strict rule – 3–4 years in one part of the world, and then a training period in Moscow.
Of course, a certain amount of mere formality will always be the case, unfortunately. But this kind of system is nonetheless useful and needed. In this respect I ask you not to view this work as just a formality. You have several days here, and I ask you to concentrate on the work, don’t run off anywhere, please.
Put this bit of time into it all. I know that each of you has his hands full. Your regions have no shortage of issues to take care of. But please, focus on what you have come here for and get the most out of this learning opportunity because it will come in useful.
Thank you very much. I wish you success.