Our Thoughts on Performance Appraisal

Is your organization on job descriptions or job profiles?

Posted by David Manyanza on Feb 27 2019
Courtesy of Curtis Alan Jackson with no edits.

With increasing focus on achievement of results, role profiles are rightly replacing job descriptions even though at a somewhat slower speed than one would expect. In developing countries such as Tanzania, the use of role profiles is even scantier. It is a reflection of continued predominance of the traditional functional rather than results based outlook of the job.

A major downside of the job description is its functional focus that blurs not only the focus on but also conceptualization of results of any given job. A job description is essentially an assembly of activities related to skills and common areas of expertise. Such a configuration virtually bears no reference to results to be achieved. Continue reading...

What are KPAs and KPIs?

Posted by David Manyanza on Jun 17 2014

I have, often enough, come across the terms Key Performance Areas (KPAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used in organizational planning particularly in strategic planning by public or service organizations. However, quite often they are used incorrectly something that has prompted me to make this small contribution. So, what are KPAs and KPIs?

To understand KPIs one has to first understand KPAs, in terms of what they are and where they are found, which then paves the way to understanding KPIs. The key word in both terms is performance. Performance is a description of achievement in the market place or in relation to customers. An athlete will have put up excellent performance if they won a gold medal. The medal is symbolic but the real value is the pleasure they give the fans and spectators for running the fastest. The service provided is entertainment.

In organizational terms performance is about delivery of products or services that have economic value to beneficiaries or customers. Continue reading...

Performance is total

Posted by David Manyanza on Apr 8 2014

We all agree that performance is about results. It is about delivering the results or service expected by customers. Depending on your position in the organization you may be serving external or internal customers. Both have similar needs in that they need your service; and they need it so much that they are desperate if you do not deliver it in time. However, the service delivery process has considerable interconnections that need consideration in ensuring an employee's effective and sustained performance.

Performance is not just delivering that service or results. Effective and sustained performance is also about relationships; it is about connections and networking as much as it is also about accountability. In this multi-dimensional context, performance is not just about being accountable to your boss about deliverables and their deadlines. It is first and foremost about timely meeting customer needs, which one often achieves in the absence of the boss, and about relationships with peers, reports and suppliers of products or services because they matter in the effective service delivery process.

Under the circumstances it is not enough to account for results to one's "boss" during a performance appraisal as this is done in the absence of the customer. To get a good and total employee performance picture the boss needs to know what results or services were delivered, speed of delivery, the extent of customer and stakeholder satisfaction. This requires the various stakeholders attesting the individual's performance in terms of customer service and work relationships. Continue reading...

Value based staff performance appraisal

Posted by David Manyanza on Feb 18 2014

One thing I particularly like about staff performance appraisal is that designed properly it is the one thing that is an indicator of how well many other things are harmoniously working in the organization. Performance does not simply happen; it is a result of many systems working well together in the organization. For example it is an indicator of how well staff training, coaching, planning, delegation and leadership are working together by re-enforcing one another.

An effective staff performance appraisal is also an indicator of change as it should be able to show performance trend of the organization over a given period of time. Such performance trend would indicate the extent to which the various interventions the organization has put in place are working well together. And where else is the best place to check for this rather than at the organization's unit of performance; the individual staff level? So what can and should determine value of a performance appraisal system?

First of all a staff performance appraisal should be viewed as an integral part of the whole performance management system. Continue reading...

Do employees understand OPRAS?

Posted by David Manyanza on Dec 12 2012

Despite its introduction in Tanzanian public organizations about two decades ago, the Open Performance Review and Appraisal System (OPRAS) has not fully taken off the ground. In an earlier post, "Is performance appraisal working in Tanzanian public organizations?", I mentioned the systemic pre-requisites for the effective implementation of OPRAS. There are non-systemic issues that are also proving important. It is becoming increasingly clear that Management and employee training is an important component of effective OPRAS implementation.

Based on information we collected from a wide range of public organizations, in the course of working with them, it has emerged that both Management and employees have inadequate understanding of and how to implement open and objective employee performance appraisal systems (see my earlier post). To enhance implementation, DSC has embarked on OPRAS training.

So far, training feedback from two parastatal organizations involving a total of 101 participants indicates that training can enhance implementation of OPRAS in Tanzanian public organizations. Continue reading...

What are employee views about performance appraisal?

Posted by David Manyanza on Oct 26 2012

Ever since the Government of Tanzania introduced the open performance review and appraisal system (OPRAS) nearly two decades ago, implementation has fallen short of expectations.

Rate of implementation by public organizations has been extremely slow, and where there have been attempts to implement the system, implementation has been poor. There is no single government institution that can stand out as having implemented OPRAS successfully. Why is this? What are employees themselves saying about OPRAS implementation?

In the course of working with various public organizations, we have interviewed a large number of employees and Management in an attempt to find out what they perceive as constraints of implementing OPRAS. They pointed out the following issues constraining OPRAS implementation:

  • OPRAS is based on ability to measure outputs yet it is not easy to measure outputs. Some work cannot be measured.
  • OPRAS is too time consuming to implement.
  • Government did not stress its implementation.
  • Management not supportive.
  • There is pervasive culture of working by tradition.
  • OPRAS is not well understood.
  • Management lack expertise on OPRAS. Continue reading...

Promoted to nothing

Posted by David Manyanza on Jul 18 2012

I have heard it many times during my sessions of working with employees in public organizations. They cynically say that they also want to be promoted so that they can do nothing but earn more money. They contend that their bosses get them to do everything while they sit down and read newspapers. To them, to become a “boss” which means manager or supervisor is to do nothing and get paid more. Such argument sometimes implies that anybody can be a “boss” because a “boss” simply “delegates” everything to their juniors so that they can chat with visitors, friends, make telephone calls and attend meetings. Of course everybody knows that this should not, theoretically, be true but how does this contention come about? Are the junior employees trying to say something but no one is listening? How could such a situation have developed?

On the surface this looks like a ridiculous argument because, after all, every one has a job description. To argue that someone could be doing nothing while everyone has a job description seems to be far fetched. However, a closer examination of the work environment suggests that the statement from junior employees could bear some truth. Experience shows that in many cases job descriptions are so brief and broad that it requires highly experienced people to translate them into actionable duties and tasks. Continue reading...

Is performance appraisal working in Tanzanian public organzations?

Posted by David Manyanza on Jun 15 2012

As part of the public service reforms, the government has been pushing, with little success for over a decade, the implementation of an open employee performance appraisal system. Despite efforts to have the system implemented by government ministries and parastatal organizations, there is hardly any public organization that has fully implemented it, which can stand up as an example to be emulated. This failure begs the obvious question: why has implementation not taken root despite the talk? To answer this question it is important to understand that an employee performance appraisal is just a cog in a wheel; in order for it to succeed, there are other supporting systems that ought to be put in place too.

There are two key supporting systems or pre-requisites for the effective implementation of an open and objective employee performance appraisal system that have not been fully met under the current implementation environment. It is virtually impossible to implement the current employee performance appraisal system if these pre-requisites are not met. The first pre-requisite is the institutionalization of work planning at the individual employee level. Continue reading...