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.