The Introduction of New Appraisals Systems in the Public Services of the Commonwealth Caribbean

Article excerpt

This article examines the challenges and problems that emerge during the introduction of a system that attempts to link performance to pay in the public services of three countries, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Jamaica. It briefly discusses the merits of introducing pay B related performance appraisal systems and argues that while such systems may attain success in the more developed countries, in ex-colonial societies, implementation will be constrained by other factors. The article proposes that the more critical constraints are the rigidity of the structures under which the services operate and the cultures of the institutions themselves. In addition the imperatives of structural adjustment would also be a critical constraint to the successful implementation of a new appraisal system. The article, however, concedes that the special circumstances of Jamaica allowed a greater measure of success; yet in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago it clearly failed.

The purpose of this article is to examine three issues; first, the way that the structures of the public sector might prevent the successful implementation of a new pay-related system of reporting and appraising personnel; second, the way in which culture might inhibit these attempts; and third, the impact of structural adjustment measures on systems which attempt to link pay to performance. The article will examine the implementation of "new" appraisal systems in three countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Jamaica. It will emerge that Jamaica has had a greater measure of success in the implementation of a new appraisal system than has Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana due largely to the differing cultures of their bureaucracies.

Basically, the structures of a public sector would include the laws, regulations and practices governing recruitment, promotions, and the principles of the bureaucratic hierarchy. The culture of the organization, on the other hand, will embrace the informal codes, rules, norms, and behavioral practices of public servants in relation to the overall structure of the bureaucracy.

A Performance Appraisal System is generally designed to achieve a number of objectives. These objectives include changing or modifying dysfunctional work behavior, communicating to employees managerial perceptions of the quality and quantity of their work, assessing the future potential of employees, and recommending appropriate training or development. Finally, a performance appraisal system is designed to assess whether the duties of employees are appropriately compensated. In other words, appraisal systems do not merely strengthen and refocus performance but also link rewards such as pay, awards, or bonuses to actual performance.

The management of performance in any organization is, however, an ongoing cyclical process. The cycle commences with a definition of the job of the subordinate, identifies all the important aspects of the job, and clarifies how they are related to the goals of the organization. The second step of the cycle involves the setting of expectations. That is, the standards are set by which the job will be appraised. In the case of the public sector, however, there is the problem of establishing precise and measurable criteria by which performance can be assessed. The third step involves monitoring the performance of the employee and providing on-going feedback, which is presumed to be not faultfinding, but a method of on-the-job coaching. The fourth step is the formal appraisal review, which is normally held at the end of the pre-determined performance period and during which managers record their assessment of the individual's performance. Finally, based on this review, there is the need to identify training and development needs. Essentially, this cycle constitutes a process that is integral to an effective organization, links the different organizational systems, and helps to build teamwork and develop employees. …