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.’