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