Performance Management of Civil Services Employees

T. V. Rao
Chairman, TVRLS

Principles of Fairness in Performance Appraisals:

An examination of performance appraisal systems across the world indicates that universal happiness with appraisals is near impossibility to achieve. At times no one seems to be happy with appraisals. Every one craves for objectivity but no one seems to put in time and effort required to bring objectivity in appraisals. Various countries have come up with different methods to manage performance appraisals. Ultimately the principles of Fairness seem to be the only ones that can be applied to appraisals. These are:

  1. You have no right to appraise the performance of another person unless you define performance prior to the performance period.
  2. You have no right to appraise the performance of any individual or group unless you have set the parameters and standards of performance and explained the same to the individual prior to the performance period.
  3. You have no right to conclude on the category of performance of an individual unless you have given him/her a chance to improve performance.
  4. You have no right to conclude on the performance levels of the individual or the team unless you understood the circumstances under which he/she worked and made an attempt to provide all the tools and resources necessary to perform.
  5. All employees and particularly those who are employed out of public money have an obligation to account for the time their actions and services rendered to the society and the government by discharging their duties and responsibilities. It is their obligation to get their performance defined, standards set, goals clarified and their time accounted for serving right causes and right purposes. Just as the performer ahs right he/she also ahs obligations and the provider of the employment ahs a right to seek and enhance accountabilities through systems like the performance appraisals.
  6. The employer ahs the right to demand performance and ensure accountabilities. The employer has the right to set standards through dialogue, discussion etc.

These principles imply the following:

  • What constitutes “Performance” should be defined before measuring the same. (Job descriptions, KPAs, KRAs, Goal setting exercise etc. are means to do the same)
  • Performance should be planned and communicated to the individuality should be communicated to the performer prior to the performance period and not at the end. (Participative methods in deciding KPAs and goal setting are intended to achieve this)
  • Performance standards should be set. 9Most appraisal system define the standards)
  • Feedback should be given periodically to the individual prior to the final assessment. (Performance review discussions and other forms of feedback like 360 Degree feedback  are the means to do the same)
  • Support should be ensured to enable the individual to perform. (performance analysis, training and other forms of providing from the beginning are intended to meet this requirement)
  • The responsibility to perform rests with the performer and the role of the employer is to facilitate performance and the primary obligation for performing is with the performer. It is his responsibility to get the performance defined, standards set.

It is in this context the performance equation becomes relevant to understand the performance management. Performance Equation given in the box below is the basis for PMS

Individual Performance = Ability X  Motivation X Organizational Support  +  Chance Factors

Ability is competence -technical, managerial, human relations and conceptual and abstract thinking. Ability is reflected through knowledge, attitudes, traits and qualities, values and skills.

Motivation is reflected through hard work, commitment and such other behaviors on the job.

Organizational Support is the extent to which the person receives support from his boss and others in the organization to do his work well.

Performance management therefore involves managing all aspects of the performance equation.

  • Define and clarify what constitutes performance
  • Provide context for performance, environmental changes, expectations
  • Ensure  that required competencies are identified, available and are developed
  • Ensure motivation and commitment – communications and measuring scales
  • Ensure organizational support

Performance Management is all about managing this equation. Performance Management is a continuous process. A well designed PMS system takes into consideration all aspects of performance as outlined in the equation. While designing a good system is important, its implementation is equally important. Most systems fail due to inadequate efforts to ensure implementation.

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