Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Perception of Performance Management System by Academic Staff in an Open Distance Learning Higher Education Environment

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Perception of Performance Management System by Academic Staff in an Open Distance Learning Higher Education Environment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Globalisation-induced competition has substantially increased the necessity for organisational managers to develop sustainable human resource (HR) strategies that are capable of optimising business performance (Imran, Arif, Cheema & Azeem, 2014). One such HR strategy is the development of performance management system (PMS). PMS has been variously described by authors as a combination of a number of functions and processes that have been carefully planned and carried out with the intention of achieving predetermined organisational objectives through employee's work performance (Aguinis, 2013; Armstrong, 2009; Hawke, 2012; Sousa, De Nijs & Hendriks, 2010; Taticchi, Balachandran & Tonelli, 2012). Therefore, performance management is considered as an integral and inalienable managerial function in any organisational setting (Islam & Rasad, 2006). This is more so as organisational managers attempt to devise an objective criteria that measures the performance of employees, both as individuals and group and to determine the extent to which such performances have contributed to the overall achievement of business effectiveness (Stanton & Navenkis, 2011). PMS provides a mechanism through which organisational rewards are objectively matched with individual employee's contribution to the achievement of organisational goals. The complexity involved in the design and implementation of this performance measurement criteria has over the years posed a challenging operational consideration for HR managers (Saeed & Shahbaz, 2011). Notwithstanding the complexity and challenges that are associated with this performance management activity, it remains the responsibility of management to provide a link between organisational effectiveness and employee performance.

Many authors (e.g. Bowman, 1994; Daley, 1998; Fox & Shirkey, 1997; Perry, 1991) have questioned the continued relevance and use of the merit rating or performance appraisal system as an objective performance evaluation technique. Merit rating or performance appraisal is a systematic and periodic evaluation of individual employees' value to the organisation in comparison to his or her colleagues (Junais, 2012; Toppo & Prusty, 2012). This criticism has accelerated the adoption of PMS as a more objective alternative in providing an integrated and continuous approach to the management of employee performance (Armstrong, 2009). Further preference for the adoption of PMS by managers is motivated by the ever increasing complexity in the management of business, which require a dynamic process of monitoring and evaluation (Willaert & Willems, 2006). Therefore, this complex and dynamic operating business environment requires a strategic and integrated performance management process that could assist the organisation to gain competitive advantage. The integrated approach involves the integration of other HR functions such as recruitment and selection, performance evaluation, training and development and remuneration (Pieters, 2009). The overall objective of the integrated approach is to establish a strategic alignment between a functional PMS and the overall organisational goals.

The motivation for the introduction of PMS in the higher education sector could perhaps be linked directly to increasing pressure from government for universities to increase both student throughput and research output. The introduction of performance incentive system (subsidy) by government in the higher education sector in South Africa has no doubt provided an unintended impetus for competition in the academy. Because incentivised performance management was alien to the educational sector, management of universities imported the prevailing performance management practices in the private sector. A number of performance management practices operating in the private sector include the 'Integrated Performance Management System' and '360 Degree Performance Management System'. …

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