Share what works!

This week I had a really frustrating situation and one that gave me hope that we’re getting our act together in Barbados. I couldn’t decide which one to write about so I thought I’d write about both.

I don’t know if you’ve ever stood in a queue for about an hour, moving about one foot every three minutes. Well that was the situation I found myself in yesterday when I went to an educational institution to register my daughter.

First of all I stood in a line for about half an hour only to be told by someone in Student Affairs that I didn’t have to be in that line in the first place. It would really have been nice if some signs could have been posted outside Student Affairs giving some sort of instructions about who should go where.

Anyway, I went to Accounts to pay and that’s where I encountered the really slow-moving line. Well that was frustrating in itself but what really took the cake was when I started to hear rumours that the cashiers were closing at two o’clock. Mind you, at this time it was 1:50 p.m. and I had been in the queue for about 50 minutes.

Well I discounted that rumour because I figured that any reasonable organisation would make provision for the fact that it was registration and therefore the number of transactions would be higher than normal and therefore the cashier should be closing later rather than earlier.

By about 2:30 I was still standing in the queue and I was two people away from the door. That’s when a lady came out and hung up a sign saying “Cashier Closed”. Well before she ducked back into the office as she was obviously planning to do, I halted her and drew her attention to the permanent notice which said that cashier hours were from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. She informed me that during registration they closed at 2 p.m. so we would have to come back tomorrow.

Well that did not go down well with me or my fellow registrants and a lot of protests went up. Some people had taken time off work to come and could not come back the next day etc. That really did not move the heart of the cashier. She escaped to her air-conditioned office and got the security guard to hand out numbers for people to come back the next day and they went off grumbling, typical Bajan (passive) style.

Well I was not satisfied. As the old Bajans would say ‘I didn’t get any satisfaction” so I took it upon myself to go and see the principal. He was getting ready for a meeting but he agreed to see me and I must say that he was very accommodating. He offered a reasonable solution which I gladly accepted, but as I told him that really didn’t help the others who had to come back the next day and it certainly didn’t improve the process for future years.

Why couldn’t anyone just see that all it would take to correct the issue would be to either close the registration process earlier so that the cashiers would have time to receive the money of all those who registered or else close the cashiers at the regular time of 3 p.m. if the close of registration was set for 2 p.m.

As I said before, a few instructions would have helped to alleviate some of the congestion at Student Affairs as well. For example, if someone already had their acceptance letter and forms then they would know to go straight to Accounts to pay.

I tried calling the institution today to find out some information and that was another lesson in frustration. I called three different phones including the PBX and no-one answered. I give up!

It’s amazing how different Government institutions can be. Earlier that same morning I went into the Electoral & Boundaries Commission to get an ID card and to change my constituency since we have elections coming up soon. I was really impressed with the signage and instructions in that department.

You were told where to make inquiries, you were given a number, there was a short wait and then you were invited to a room for the photo to be taken etc. I was also able to change my constituency right there as well simply by producing my ID and proof of address. I was out of there in half an hour. What a pleasant experience!

Maybe the Electoral department should lead that educational institution through some process improvement workshops. Isn’t time that Government departments start to share what works for them with other departments? If VAT gave Inland Revenue some pointers, I’m sure a lot more tax would be collected.

If they worked together and shared their best practices then the whole system should become more efficient. I believe that would significantly improve the way we do business in Barbados. And that’s our goal, isn’t it?

Donna Every is a motivational speaker, business trainer and the author of the books What do you have in your house? and The Promise Keeper. She has a degree in Mathematics, is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA. She is the Project Manager for the Talent Development and Education Pillar of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.

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