An Investigation of the main impediments to the institutionalisation of the annual performance appraisal system(APAS) in the Zambian Public Service
Kanchebele, Lydia Lukwesa
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The main purpose of this research was to investigate the main impediments to the institutionalization of the Annual Performance Appraisal System in the Zambian Public Service. Institutionalization of reform programmes such as performance appraisal has proved to be a daunting and challenging exercise for many developing countries, including Zambia. Yet the assumption is that if a robust Performance Appraisal System could be installed worldwide in organizations, tremendous leverage would accrue to it, in terms of not only performance, but also of developing a more engaged and empowered workforce. The study was primarily qualitative, thus giving the researcher ample time to get an in depth understanding of the key obstacles to the institutionalization of the APAS, from the Focused Group Discussion with human resource sectional heads of all the ministries that have undergone restructuring and are using the new appraisal system, as well as Cabinet Office and the Public Service Management Division (PSMD) being the implementer and architect of all government reform initiatives. The interviews explored participants' experience, both as appraisers and appraises. For this reason, the interview sample was skewed towards more senior staff. The results for this research revealed that the prevailing cultural, political and organisational factors in the Zambian Public Service have hindered successful institutionalization of the APAS. Under political factors, there was an all round acceptance amongst the participants in the focused Group Discussions that the government lacks the political will to ensure that civil servants accepted the APAS and created a sense of ownership and commitment towards it. The findings, under cultural factors, revealed that, cultural differences in the supervisor-subordinate relationship affects appraisal results and subsequently becomes a key obstacle to the successful institutionalization of this reform program. Finally, under organisation factors, the following factors were revealed to be key obstacles to the acceptance of the acceptance of the APAS. The PSMD poor communication to line ministries and un sustained APAS training and socialization to the new entrants in the civil service, lack of commitment by top leaders to implement the system and the poor perceptions of the APAS held by both supervisors and subordinates.