Can PMS Improve Public Service?

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1. Introduction

This is meant to share ideas and support the Namibian Government’s efforts to implement the Performance Management System (PMS) across the entire public service. If correctly and effectively implemented, the system will result in improved service delivery.

The Performance Management System is a strategic approach to management that equips leaders and managers at different levels with a set of tools and techniques to:

– Regularly plan;

– Continuously monitor;

– Periodically measure and review the performance of an organization. It is the activity of tracking performance against targets and identifying opportunity for improvement – but not just looking at past performance. The focus of performance is the future – what do you need to be able to do and how can you do things better? It is a conscious effort to influence the way things get done.

If we understand and implement our system this way, then I have no doubt that it will improve our public sector and service delivery.

The Namibian public servants should be committed to improved service delivery. We should know what our clients want and be able to provide it quicker, better and more cost effectively. We must understand that citizens are the reason why the public service exists.

2. Purpose (Why?)

The performance management system is implemented to get better results from the organization, teams and individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed framework of planned goals, standards and competence requirements (Amstrong, 2005). It is aimed to continuously improve the overall performance of organization, teams and individuals. It focuses on development and continuous improvement and achievement of goals or objectives.

It is thus very clear that if implemented effectively, the Namibian Public Sector will improve. We need to embrace and support the system.

3. Principles of Performance Management

Amstrong (2005) has given the following as the principles of performance management:

– It translates corporate goals into individual, teams, department and divisional goals;

– It helps to clarify corporate goals;

– It is a continuous and evolutionary process in which performance improves over time;

– It relies on consensus and cooperation rather than controls or coercion;

– It creates a shared understanding of what is required to improve performance and how this will be achieved;

– It encourages self-management of individual performance;

– It requires a management style that is open and honest and encourages two-way communication between supervisors and subordinates;

– It requires continuous feedback;

– It measures and assesses all performance against jointly agreed goals;

– It should apply to all staff;

– It is not primarily concerned with linking performance to financial rewards.
The performance management is therefore a system which states that when employees know and understand what is expected of them and are given an opportunity in formulating these expectations, then they can and will perform to achieve them.

4. Prerequisites for the System to Succeed

There must be mutually agreed upon objectives between the supervisor and subordinates.

The employee must have the required knowledge, skills and the right attitude to perform.

A vision of objectives is communicated to employees. Key result areas are identified and each employee has to be aware of his/her key result areas that are commensurate with one’s job description. This means that we cannot implement the system using the generic job descriptions.

Departmental and individual performance targets are set within a wider objectives, and the targets should take into consideration the competence of the individual, the resources available and the time.

The process must be owned and driven by top management. The performance of employees is determined to a great extent on how well supervisors manage their performance. The performance management system of any organization is top driven.

Reward System

To develop a fair and transparent reward system is a crucial aspect of attaining the effective performance management system. The purpose of the reward system is to reward people fairly, equitably and consistently in accordance with their value to the organization and thus help the organization to achieve its strategic goals.

Due to lack of the reward system in the Namibian Public Sector, many employees are demoralized and cannot be expected to excel in their work.

Why should they perform if a performer and non-performer receive the same salaries?

In Namibia very rarely is the work done by public servants appreciated.
A formal review of progress towards the target is conducted.

5.Why the Performance Management System Sometimes Does Not Succeed

According to Mziray (2006) a performance management system can only succeed depending on how it is implemented. According to her, a survey conducted in 1996 showed that less than 5% of employees were satisfied with the way in which the process was conducted. Some of the reasons of dissatisfaction included:

– Management had no training on performance management and they treated the performance review as a formal activity that had to be conducted periodically while performance management should be viewed as an ongoing process;

– Management wanted to be liked so they sometimes played it safe by giving average ratings during performance reviews.

– Setting goals is tough and imprecise. Appropriate goal setting would require the individual and supervisor to be aware of the mission and vision of the organization.

They should be conversant with the overall strategic direction of the organization and the contribution of the department along with the individual to the overall picture.

There are a few consequences for not conducting performance management.
This comes about when the top management is not serious with the whole process of performance management. Are we the top managers in Namibia really committed to the successful implementation of the system? Why did the performance appraisal system fail?

6. Conclusion

If the performance management system is to succeed in Namibia and be meaningful both to the employees and employers, then there is a need to make the whole process friendly and empowering.
Employees must be empowered and enriched. This will result in having and retaining highly competent and committed staff in the public sector.
It is therefore imperative that work done by public servants be appreciated. The positive contribution and strengths need to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Sebastian Kantema
Chief Regional Officer
Kavango

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