ODOH, SAMUEL I.
Department Of Political Science/Pubic Administration
Ebonyi State University,
The success of any organization depends on the effective mobilization of the potentialities in the working force and adequate utilization of tools. The human factor is delicate and dynamic and therefore requires special attention in grappling with the contending issues of personal mobilization, motivation and utilization. Annual performance evaluation has become a veritable instrument in the hands of personnel managers to motivate workers either for promotion or for punishment. The employer is trying to achieve the best out of his organization. The employer is interested in evaluating the instrument of labour for optimum utilization. The employee is also looking forward to annual appraisal so as to enhance his chances of growth through promotions and advancements. Unfortunately, the essence of annual performance evaluation has been defeated by contradictory interests of the employee and the employer. The need to maximize profit and accumulate capital has driven employers to make a lopsided demand on the employee, on the other hand the workers expect to receive commensurate pay and enjoy steady promotions as and when due. There in therefore the need to further conceptualize and strengthen the concept of annual performance evaluation in our public service. This will improve to a large extent the attitude and the relationship between the employee and the employer.
The Public service occupies a significant position in the administration of any given state. Unfortunately, the role of the public service has been undermined and reduced to mere rubber stamps by the political class. The role of the public service has been reduced to mere routine a position that can be bye-passed anytime. The public service personnel staff has been reduced to an ordinary machine that can be disposed of without prior notice. Evaluation of staff performance therefore is only to the extent it satisfies the aspirations of the political class, their wishes and hunches. To the extent that recruitment and placement of staff both the skilled and non-skilled does not matter if it did not tally with general regulation. What is important is whether it satisfies the selfish end of the chief executive. This is to the detriment of the service rules and objectives. As a matter of fact, the general attitude of the executive in the development of civil service personnel and general administration undermines the very essence for the establishment of this structure. Whereas the executive and legislative elected or appointed members come and go, the civil service remains an organ which enjoys continuity of existence. This means that whenever a civil servant relinquished his office for any reason whatsoever, his place is taken by another who enjoys security of employment: According to the civil service handbook.
(CSH,1997:18). The civil service is indispensable irrespective of the type of regime whether military or civilian. Indeed, under the Military Rule or sudden change of Government, it is even more incumbent on the civil service to continue its traditional role as a means of ensuring that the orderly administration of the country is continuous.
It is therefore against this background of indispensability of the civil service that we want to look at the reason why there is decadence and low morale in the civil service. We shall specifically look at annual performance evaluation as veritable tool for sustaining this all important body or organ for administrative continuity.
The use of Annual Performance Appraisal has been underplayed. It is only used as a means of listing staff arbitrarily for rationalization. The aim of this article was to review the use of APER in the assessment of the employee and make recommendations.
EVALUATION REPORT: This constitutes the determination of the changes in the skill, knowledge and the attitude of the employee and the working environment within a specific period of time. To Simon et al (1974; 379):
Evaluation is concerned with the determination of whether changes in skills and knowledge have taken place as result of training…evaluation exist to check or minimize waste arising from training costs.
Evaluation has to do with the measurement of performance. Whereas performance is linked with motivation. Attempts to measure motivation and moral raises problems. The approach to understanding organistion that concentrate its focus on people within organization needs to be aware of what it is that motivate people within them. Looking at the concept of evaluation Alan and Rose (1991:93) noted that:
“evaluation of human behavior requires the understanding of human nature. There are some theories about human needs, and desires, which determine human behavior both within and outside the organization. The motivation to satisfy these needs and desires are the underlying factors in our attitude to work and our relationship with others. Any view of human nature we take will lead us to explanation of what motivates us.
It follows that performance evaluation is a means of minimizing human potentials through identification of human needs, which should be satisfied for better performance. Evaluation in therefore goal oriented and positive in the sense of motivation to achieve better results.
Evaluation according to Edeani (1979:1) “is the review of the employees performance based on the objectives agreed upon”. It could be seen as appraisal of an employee’s ability to achieve an expected result. The performance appraisal will expose the strength and weakness of the employee and on the basis of this, appropriate remedial action such as training can be undertaken. Evaluation requires careful consideration of a particular staff or worker’s usefulness in the achievement of set goals. Every organization produces some values which make it relevant to the society. The organisation’s ability to produce these values at the right time and the right quantity, makes it valuable and meeting her objectives.
However, of on the contrary, she fails to supply the required goods, the organisation has failed. The performance of the organisation depends on the individual occupying different positions in the organisastional structure. These positions are interdependent and not exclusive. Each position or unit of the system is strategic and goal oriented. This is the reason for the evaluation of every individual in the civil service either annually or bi-annually to ascertain the performance of individuals in the achievement of the set goals or realization of the objective set and agreed upon. A good appraisal or evaluation system is very fundamental to personnel management in any organizational system. For sustainable service, evaluation is indispensable as it functions to assess goals achievements, motivate personnel for better performance, reward performance negatively or positively, render priorities and expose weak areas in the social system. With the right type of evaluation, the right kind of people will occupy position commensurate with their performance capabilities.
Performance evaluation in the public service is the measurement of human behaviour within an organization. Performance is linked with motivation. Every effort or human behaviour is motivated by the need. It follows therefore that to understand performance evaluation, motivational theories are viable tools to be employed; performance evaluation has been anchored on some major theories. The need based theories and the human relation theories.
THE NEED BASED THEORIES:
Maslow (1943:370-96) argues that individuals have needs which was categorized into “physiological needs and psychological needs” these needs are what individuals strive to satisfy. These basic human needs he rendered in hierarchy as follows:
- Physiological: Food, drink, Shelter.
- Safety and security
- Social; to relate to others, have friends and belong to groups.
- Esteem; to have the respect of others.
- Self-actualization: to achieve full potentials.
It is the understanding here that solution to one need leads to another in hierarchical order. It is important to note that Maslow’s position does not have in mind the individual in the civil service and the socio-cultural environment of individuals; we can look at a number of implications for the performance of individuals in an organization. We tend to rely on the following argument as put forward by Alan (1991:94) thus:
“Our needs change, so that our motivation will change. It may well be that throughout careers we are motivated by desire to satisfy different needs. The higher we grow in an organization, then what motivates us will also change.
This psychological view of Maslow and his school is short of organizational leadership variable which can influence the behaviour of individuals, apart from his personal needs. This view was expressed by Ejiofor (1989) when he said that ‘we can count upon several factors to motivate people’ in a study of human behaviour and his response to social environment with special reference to working environment. Douglas McGregor (1960) came up with the conclusion that performance of individuals is dependent on different types of management styles. Thus:
Some individuals may welcome the opportunity to exercise responsibility whereas others may not be interested and prefer the security of being directed by others.
This view resulted to what is popularly called theory ‘X’ and theory ‘Y’. This theory contends that each person has a need to integrate his understanding of the “way things are”.
The set of assumptions in theory “X” are as follows:
- The average person has an inherent.
- Dislike for work and will avoid it whenever possible.
- Therefore, people have to be forced or coerced.
- Most people would rather be told what to do than have to think for themselves
- On the other hand theory ‘Y’ follows that
- Work is natural to man as play or rest.
- Authoritarian methods can get things done but they are not the only means for doing so,
- People select goals for themselves if they see the possibility of rewards.
- Most people have the captivity to be imaginative and creative in contributing to the
section of organisational problem.
It is upon these later views that our propositions rest. In whatever circumstance, motivation needs to blend the best out of these assumptions. It is important as we can see form the ongoing that it is necessary to provide people with work that offers the opportunity for internal rewards that can only be experienced by performing challenging tasks.
OBJECTIVES OF ANNUAL PERFORMANCE EVALUATION
The foremost objective of performance evaluation is to provide an opportunity for the personnel officer and his subordinates to review their work in the light of objectives set. The employee is told how successful or otherwise he has performed on the job and this will involve discussion of his areas of strength and weakness. The essence of the exercise is not to use it to blow out of proportion the weak areas of the worker or the subordinate. Secondly, performance evaluation encourages the management according to Sidney (1978:1):
to think analytically about his subordinates as ‘ individual human beings, so that he will understand them better and thus be able to base the planning of work’ in his organisation on Individual’s competence and suitability.
The process also enables the individual employee, the opportunity to realize his own potential and build on his present job for advancement. The annual performance evaluation (APER) motivates the workers for better performance. It actually stimulates the people to accomplish desired goals.
There are a number of fundamental conditions, which will promote effectiveness and
improvement on job performance. The employee should have a clear knowledge of job
specification. The tasks that comprise his job should be clearly stated and published. The
importance of defining clearly the responsibilities of each job cannot be over emphasized
as some personnel offices turn their subordinates as their slaves and even send them to
perform private illegal duties for them and thereby jeopardizing the achievement of the
organizational goals. This practice has really reduced some subordinates to mere rubber
stamps in the hands of their chief executive. This emphasis is necessary, as each staff will
be assessed on overall performance. Many heads of service bluntly refuse to define job
clearly on the ground that it leads to rigid organizational structure. This is unacceptable if
civil servants will be assessed on principles and job specification. Every worker will be
happy to have his areas of authority or responsibility clearly defined and to know whom he
is accountable to. It is on the basis of these specified roles expectations which are in
consonance with organisational goals that the individual is assessed. It is important to note
that over lapping job responsibilities will be difficult to evaluate and therefore creates
unnecessary conflicts, which does not help in any organisation. Similarly “standards of
performance required on the job should be clearly laid down and communicated to the
employee” says Ubeku (1972:238). The time of dismissal, break, and other standard
performance should be clearly stated. The result is that the employee will have a yard stick
against which he can measure his own performance. He will be able to determine for
himself when he is performing and when he in not doing well. This will instill confidence
on the part of the employee as against the practice of some chief executives of ministries
and extra-ministerial parastatals who wait at the end of the year to use the instrument of
APER to fail any staff whose ‘colour of nose’ he does not like. The question that agitates
the mind of such victims are; did I receive any warning verbally or otherwise during the
year? Why is it that my work is not considered satisfactory? The reason for this kind of
problem remains the fact that there were no yardstick or job specifications.
Annual evaluation also looks at the job situation, the environment and the facilities the parties of assessing employees only is one sided. This is because if the facilities. The social framework and other environmental variable impinging on job performance is unfavourable, evaluation interviews can reveal it for remedy.
CRITICAL REVIEW OF ANNUAL PERFORMANCE EVALUATION IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
There are conditions necessary for effective measurement of performance. The first is the structure of the job; it must be structured in such a way that the employee can make the maximum use of his mental and physical capacities. The worker is expected to develop on the job, through experience, which has no substitute, but the personnel officer can do much to accelerate the process of development and broaden its scope through guidance and teaching.
Employees, especially the new entrants into the service learn much from their superiors, the good examples of efficiency and administrative ability which the chief executives exhibit will affect the way in which a subordinate staff develop on his job, some superior officers are unfortunately gruesome and nosily, leaving no room for proper coordination and cooperation among workers. To achieve maximum output every staff within the service should strive to establish a friendly atmosphere at all times to encourage learning. Barking at subordinates every now and then makes the working environment sour and the worker look stupid and sluggish. There should therefore, be room for effective communication. Communication between the superiors and the subordinates is the panacea to quarrels and misunderstanding. Communication should flow up and down whereby information and ideas are exchanged within the work environment. This requires “talking with rather than taking to” workers Ubeku (1975;239). The chief executive should learn to exchange information, ideas and feelings down and across organizational line than merely dishing orders or “talking to” people, this is a poor communication strategy. Individuals should assume leadership position in their various situations rather than controllers who pose as absolutists. An absolutist does not consider any alternative and is not interested in suggestions from others but is only satisfied with his own feelings. The seven “c’s” of effective communication should be observed at all times whether written or oral. These are as McGregor (1962:262) puts it:
These are very necessary in communication no matter whom we are communicating with in the work place. The open reporting system of assessment requires dialogue which is lacking in our system.
Another important condition we need to consider is motivation. This is an important concept, which the employee and employer should understand and utilize for improved job performance. Motivation requires the activation of abilities and potentials lying dormant in the individuals. The bane of sustainable public service is a situation where some chief executives carry some of their family problems and their undesirable dispositions to bear on the organisation and become misfit. Most chief executives as a matter of fact do not stick to the general organizational goals; rather they pursue their personal gains and thereby assess their subordinate’s ability to serve their purposes. This reduces staff morale and sense of commitment.
It has become old fashioned for the man at the head to decide for his men what to do and how to do it at all times. Someone who expects men to conform strictly to his chosen pattern, otherwise they would be dismissed or disciplined, to Pincus (1986:395) is considered “the slave driver and bulldozer”.
Locking back at what was Independent National Electoral Commission staff experience between 1996-1998. One could best explain this situation as the period of reign of terror. The workers were going about their duties with fear. The intention of the National Commission was to flush out some of the staff. Workers were therefore thrown out of job on flimsy excuses that “their services were no longer needed”. The period was reckless as the management exhibited extravagant abuse of the workers’ rights in the employment contract. Terror was unleashed on the subordinates and many staff lost their jobs only to be recalled a few years after. Within the period under review, the workers were gripped with fear and the feelings of job insecurity. This situation cannot make room for ingenuity and creativity. They were therefore waiting for what would happen next. This administration lacked human face and achieved little or nothing as far as the commission’s goal was concerned.
Sustainable service can only be achieved when performance evaluation is focused on the job and the individual personality. Some reduce performance evaluation to personal relationship with the employee, your familiarity, club members, belonging to the same religion or social organization overshadows peoples’ sense of appraisal. This is an aberration; concentration should be on results, in what has been achieved. APER is not for the purpose of promotion only but for all-round development of the worker both within and outside the public service. Promotion based on assessment was meant to encourage hard work, other benefits of performance evaluation was to create an enabling environment to help the employee discover his level of competence and development. This is very important and as the instruments for assessment touches on the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of the worker being interviewed.
The evaluation interview whether annual or bi annual, the reporting officer should have discussions to agree or disagree on the issues raised by the APER form. Some superior officers would only feel happier and much more comfortable if they can write their reports on their subordinates and pass it through to the ‘top secret file’ so that they do not see it. This is wrong, the report should be discussed and the employee under review ascent buy signing for or against the report.
The open reporting system should be used as it promotes transparency in the reporting system.
The assessment should not be used only as a means of promoting the staff since other factors extraneous to the employee can contribute to low performance.
Environmental factors leading to high performance of personal staff should also-be assessment to make room for balanced judgment.
Employees of all ranks should assessment as a team not only as individuals as they are collectively responsible to the achievement of the organization goals.
There should be periodic training of staff enhance performance.
We have stressed issues concerning performance evaluation in relation to personnel staff in the public service vis-à-vis the organisation goals and sustainable service. To achieve efficiency in the use of annual performance evaluation, there should be an extensive training for the officers reporting on the employee to avoid the problem of unbalanced judgment among different people. Emphasis will be more on the organizational goals rather than basic personal opinion. It is true that people are not disposed to accept criticisms, but pre-evaluation interview can help employee being reported on to dialogue and accept areas of low performance and to prepare for improvement. As a matter of fact where the reporting officer and the subordinate have clear understanding of the goals of assessment, the stage is set for sustainable career in the civil service.
The evaluation process should be accepted as a cumulative means for the development of the employee, strengthening his weakness rather than stressing it. It should also be used to check how the organisation satisfied the need of the workers. It is a two-way exercise on both the workers and the organisation.
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