According to the USA’s Office of Personnel Management, Performance management is the systematic process of:
• planning work and setting expectations.
• continually monitoring performance
• developing the capacity to perform
• periodically rating performance in a summary fashion
• rewarding good performanceThe benefits gained as a result of Implementing and sustaining Performance Management include the following;
• Shared understanding among staff about the vision, mission, broad objectives and core values of their organisation
• Workers’ become clearer about their role and contribution to their organisation’s success
• Staff gain better understanding of the concept of programme-based budgeting
The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission’s Role in Public Service Performance Management
In Ghana, apart from its well-known public service reward management policy formulation functions, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission Act, 2007 (Act 737) also charged the Commission with the following Performance Management, Monitoring and Evaluation responsibilities,
i. To develop and advise Government on and ensure that decisions are implemented on matters related to performance management and indicators, (Section 2biii)
ii. To ensure that the balance of internal consistency, external competitiveness and employee performance are fully reflected in the public service pay system.’(section 3i)
iii. To advise on performance management processes and indicators.’ Section 3(j) then,iv. Section 30(c) of the Act says; ‘The Minister (ie the Minister for Employment and Social welfare) may on the advice of the Board by Legislative Instrument make Regulations generally for the effective implementation of this Act.
iv. Section 30(c) of the Act says; ‘The Minister (ie the Minister for Employment and Social welfare) may on the advice of the Board by Legislative Instrument make Regulations generally for the effective implementation of this Act.’
Section 98(g) of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), states,, without prejudice to the other provisions of this Act and subject to any agreement between the parties, a collective agreement may include provisions on the principles for matching remuneration with productivity.
Apart from these statutory requirements, a number of recent Government policy documents and pronouncements emphasise performance management, productivity improvement and monitoring and evaluation.
The following are excerpts from various policy papers;
The Medium-Term National Development Policy Framework; Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA), 2010-2013 Volume 1; pages 85-86 have the following;In Ghana, productivity improvement has been a challenge at the national, sectoral and enterprise levels in both the public and private sectors.Productivity-related issues include: lack of a nationally agreed productivity-measurement framework; inadequate labour productivity management system, improper pricing of labour leading to low labour productivity and income.The principal policy instrument relating to productivity includes adopting a national policy for enhancing productivity and income in both formal and informal sectors.’
Section 4.6 of the Government White Paper on the Single Spine Pay Policy makes the following observations;‘Government did not find any linkage in performance management and productivity in the Single Spine Salary Structure. Government recognises that improved compensation must be driven by improved performance or productivity. In effect, there would be the need to establish a link between the new salary policy and performance management. This aspect of the policy is what government will actively engage its social partners to accomplish and thereby properly orient Single Spine Pay Policy as a fair and equitable way of remunerating public servants. Government endorses the introduction of a robust public service-wide performance management, monitoring and evaluation system. Once the system is in place, annual salary increments for public servants will no longer be automatic, but based on annual performance assessment.’
The Ghanaian Times of Friday, August 12, 2011 carried a story on its front page captioned ‘Public Service to be cleaned.’ In the story, the President was quoted as having said among other things that; ‘We cannot pay people for doing nothing.’ According to the story; ‘a significant percentage of the government revenue goes into the payment of public sector salaries, and the President believes Ghanaians must have their money’s worth.’ It is considered that, an effective Performance management, monitoring and evaluation system is a way of ensuring that ‘Ghanaians have their money’s worth.’
Paragraph 713 of the 2012 National Budget states;‘The FWSC will collaborate with the MDPI to conduct productivity index survey to further promote and enhance equity in the management of public sector pay. This will match productivity against salaries and wages in the public sector.’
In consonance with Government’s position on public service performance management, and productivity improvement, paragraph 4.2 of the FWSC’s draft ‘Ghana Public Service Pay Policy’ has the following;‘The FWSC shall develop Performance Management policy to among others include the following;
• Guidelines and frameworks for instituting an effective performance management culture in public service organisations, to recognise and reward performance. In the short to medium term (1-5yrs), this effort shall be focussed on the management corps of public service organisations and eventually rolled out to the generality of workers. In this regard, the practice of automatic increments across board shall cease and be based strictly on Performance.’
• Guidelines and frameworks for organisational performance assessment so as to reward high performing organisations and set them as examples for others.
• Compensation that emphasises, recognises and rewards effective leadership and also a bonus scheme that rewards organisations and their personnel for achieving their annual performance targets.’
Why the current Emphasis on Performance Management?
The questions one might be tempted to ask are; why are we placing so much emphasis on performance management/productivity, and why has it taken us this long to ‘recognise’ performance management? The answer to the first question may be found in the first two paragraphs of this article. The rest of this article is an attempt at answering the second question and in fact, the question posed by the very heading of the article.
Performance management in Ghana before the 1990s
Before the 1990’s, performance of public service organizations in Ghana, was assessed through Annual Reports and Financial Statements as audited by the Auditor General’s Department. Individual employee performance was assessed through Annual Confidential Reports (ACR). This system of staff appraisal was fraught with problems and abuses that made its credibility and usefulness questionable. (Ayee 2001,Nkrumah 1991). ACRs mostly evaluated personal behavioural traits rather than actual job performance, based on management by objectives principles. A performance contracting system, based on the model of the British ‘Next Steps’ by which ‘Executive Agencies’ sign performance contract with their supervising authorities have been in operation in the State-owned Enterprises sub-sector in Ghana for well over a decade. In the civil service environment, which until recently had included the Local Government Service, the Civil Service Performance Improvement Programme (CSPIP:1994-2003) was aimed among other reform initiatives at ‘providing objective basis for monitoring and assessing the performance of civil servants and civil service institutions through explicit goal and target setting.’
Some Comments on Ghana’s past Performance Management Initiatives
In the words of Ohemeng, (2009)‘The Civil Service Performance Improvement Programme (CSPIP; 1994- 2003) became the first serious attempt by Government to revolutionalise public service organisations by focusing specifically on institutionalising a performance management culture similar to those already found in developed countries. A key part of the program dealt with the development and signing of performance contract between the government and senior bureaucrats, i.e Chief Directors of the various MDAs’.
According Larbi (2001) and Ohemeng ( 2006; 2009) The CSPIP, however, failed to alter the culture of public sector organisations to any appreciable degree. Most of these organisations continued with the old bureaucratic culture that had undermined their performance in the past.
In a Paper titled, The Civil Service Improvement Programme (CSPIP) in Ghana, presented by Stephen Adei and Yaw Boachie-Danquah at the 24th AAPAM Annual Round Table Conference in Lesotho, 25-29th November, 2002, they commented as follows; ‘CSPIP seems to suffer from the usual implementation problem of public sector reforms –lack of effective implementation and leadership.’ (P.3-4). According to them ‘even though performance contracts have been signed the quality of leadership in the service is still poor and the contracts are not followed up, and analysed so that the results can be used to improve the system.’Another document, titled, Towards A New Public Service For Ghana, (June 2004) issued by the Public Sector Reform Secretariat made the following observation; ‘Currently the Ghana Civil Service is characterized by ineffective leadership and weak management, lack of vision, mission and clear direction, low morale, excessive bureaucratic delays, low capacity for planning and implementation and an image of pervasive corruption. (p.24) At page 31 of the same document one finds the following; ‘the masses of civil servants at lower levels will never perform to acceptable standards unless they are led by an elite corps of senior officers who also accept responsibility for the performance of the entire workforce under their command.’If these comments reflect the true situation at the time they were made, then perhaps one could conclude that performance management was not working effectively in the civil/public service despite previous attempts including the CSPIP- It is insightful perhaps, to take note of the duration of the CSPIP vis-a-vis these comments.
According to a Public Services Commission (PSC) document titled; ‘Performance Management Policy for the Public Service of Ghana’- a ‘Performance Agreement System (PAS) was introduced in 1997 to provide an objective means of assessing the performance of senior staff of the Civil Service covering Chief Directors (CDs)in the Ministries, Regional Coordination Councils (RCCs) and Directors in the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies. The system was operational from 1997 to 2008.This was however, ad-hoc in its implementation and had no feedback system. For the other Public Services, a hybrid of performance appraisal models have evolved based on the exigencies of the time and the dictates of their various Governing Boards/Councils. Some of the Boards/Councils were not particularly aware of their roles and responsibilities in ensuring an efficient and operational performance management system.’
Although formal regulations seek to link staff performance to salary adjustment (merit pay) and many organisations know or have developed some performance management systems, performance management as defined in the opening paragraph is not followed by most public service organisations. For example, performance targets are not set for staff and staff performance appraisals are not done regularly.It is said the ‘performance appraisals’, are done in most cases, only when staff are due for ‘promotion’. It is observed that even in such cases; ‘performance’ appraisals tend to be overly positive. In the few cases where performance appraisals are critical, they seldom lead to withholding of increments or promotions as prescribed by the formal regulations.
Strictly speaking, despite and in spite of public servants’ awareness of the existence of some general’ Performance Appraisal Forms’ within the Public Service, and the requirement for public organisations to appraise their staff at least once in a year, ‘annual’ staff performance appraisal does not happen annually in many public sector institutions in Ghana at the moment.
In the absence of an effective performance management regime, salary increments are made by Government across the board, more as an annual ritual than merit-based, as no reference is made to corporate and/or staff performance records. Public servants expect annual merit increments as a matter of course. This is the situation that paragraph 4.6 the Government White Paper on the Single Spine Pay Policy seeks to rectify.
If ‘performance management’ started in Ghana in the 1990s, and the World Bank for example, was citing Ghana as one of the ‘best practice countries alongside few others like Uganda and Malta, then, what might have happened in the 2000s for the country’s performance management initiatives to attract all the unenviable comments from reviewers as outlined above? This is why the question as to whether performance management in Ghana’s public service has proven to be a mirage becomes worthy of consideration.
It is generally agreed among commentators that Ghana’s performance management initiatives have not been successful or sustainable. The following have been identified as contributory factors to the failure of performance management initiatives to take roots in the Ghana Public Service;
• The absence of a strong performance culture that relates performance to appropriate rewards or sanctions.
• Focus on inputs ie budget, personnel and equipment more than on outputs and outcomes. (ie input and process-orientation rather than results orientation.)
• Lack of change champions to lead and sustain performance management initiatives and to build performance management culture.
• Inappropriate institutional designs and formal rules that are not supportive of performance management practices. For example schemes of service which provide that progression on the corporate ladder be dependent more on tenure rather than on performance, and non-existent or insufficient budget to address performance related issues such as job related training or performance related pay.
• Lack of performance orientation and insufficient accountability standards,
• Weak planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes, Other institutional bottlenecks that might hamper effective implementation of performance management include the under-listed;
• Management and staff apathy towards performance management was and will pose a real threat to any future initiative in the area of performance management and performance-related pay, unless properly managed.
• It is also considered that many supervisors, in their bid to be considered by their subordinates as ‘nice’ are less willing to call a spade a spade when it comes to staff performance appraisal. This is a real threat to effective performance management, and this will make nonsense of a performance-related pay policy, unless properly managed.
• The Public Service Hierarchy – in spite of the talk of decentralization and devolution the public service management system remains very centralized to the extent that the immediate boss does not have the carrot or the stick to ensure proper performance management. If this remains the case in a performance management regime then the system may not be effective. (Experience elsewhere has shown the negative side of devolution and this is why performance management and performance related pay policies need to be well thought out and not rushed)
• The budget system at the moment does not make allowance for performance related pay arrangements.
• Performance management as envisaged by ACT 737 represents a major paradym shift in the work culture of the Ghanaian Public Servant. Unless this is addressed effectively any initiatives in performance management will go the way of the CSPIPs before it.
• Change in Government could also affect implementation and sustainability of performance management. Although one may argue that Performance Management has become a statutory requirement, (by Act 737) different Governments may attach different levels of importance to it.
• Real or perceived fragmentation or duplication of the performance management, monitoring and evaluation function is another threat to performance management in Ghana’s public service. Different central management agencies have, or claim to have PMM&E functions. Perceived or real role overlaps and conflicts can affect the effectiveness of performance management, if not well managed.
• Performance management skills do not abound in many public organisations at the moment. Training will be required to make performance management a reality.
• Unlike the public service organization, the private sector organization is set-up to make profit and individual contribution to the annual revenue of the private company can more easily be demonstrated to the private sector worker than to his public sector counterpart. For this reason, performance management becomes more tangible to the management and staff of private sector organisations than to the management and staff of public sector organisations. As a result of this, Management and staff in public sector environments may not so easily recognize the importance of performance management and may therefore not promote it as vigorously as it is done in the private sector.
The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, having taken cognizance of the reasons why previous performance Management initiatives failed, and what needs to be done to forestall another failure, is desirous of harnessing the combined efforts of all stakeholders to achieve sustainable results. Clearly, the success or failure of performance management in the Ghana Public service does not depend on the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission alone. It depends on Government’s willingness to create the ‘enabling environment’ ie making the necessary systemic and structural changes in the public administrative system, It depends on Managements having the willingness to put in place all the systems and structures upon which any meaningful performance management system can thrive and it depends on public servants having the necessary change in ‘consciousness’ to accept performance management, properly so-called. Stakeholders need to appreciate the fact that Performance management is a systematic and a holistic change management process which impacts the very root of our current work culture. It is not a one-time event to be put in place by the FWSC. According to Charles Polidano, (1999) Performance Management is perhaps the hardest of the new public management reforms to implement, involving as it does radical changes to structures of accountability and ultimately to the very culture of government. This is very true, but we need to also appreciate the fact that some countries are making headway in performance management and we must therefore resolve to make it work this time around as there seems to be no alternative. We cannot by our actions or inactions wish away performance management if we wish to remain in the comity of nations who have moved or are moving away from ‘input’ or process-oriented management to results-based management.The success of performance management indeed depends on Government and top management commitment, the active involvement and participation of staff, effective communication within organisations, change of mindset and training. For these reasons the FWSC or for that matter on one central management agency would be able to implement and sustain performance management in the public service - all by itself.In the candid opinion of this writer, it is only when we address the institutional bottlenecks that hamper effective and sustainable implementation of performance management, that we stand any chance of making any difference from what happened in the past. We also need to back any performance management system (to be proposed) by law (ie a Legislative Instrument.) Act 737 rightly recommended this. It is noted that in the United States of America, Performance Management is backed by law; – the ‘Government Performance and Results Act of 1993’- (GPRA). This is one good way of ‘converting’ people who might otherwise not be too favourably disposed towards performance management. Implementation of performance management should be binding on public service organisations rather than optional or ‘persuasive’. We sincerely believe that, it is only after addressing the issues identified above that performance management in the Ghana public service may cease to be the mirage that it has proven to be all this while.
By Emmanuel Kwami