Integrated performance management systems and motivation in the South African public sector
MetadataShow full item record
Performance management processes in the South African public service are often perceived and implemented in isolation from other organisational and management policies, strategies, systems and processes. The central problem addressed in this study concerns the lack of integration of different aspects of performance management into a coherent system. This problem affects motivation and performance of staff.This study provides an overview of the broad field of performance management and specifically focuses on public service integrated performance management systems. One of the main objectives of this study is to identify performance management challenges from an integrated perspective and to develop potential solutions for these challenges.In order to achieve this objective, a literature review and data collection processes were conducted, which served as the foundation on which the research was based. The qualitative research methodology was chosen as it allows for interpretative research and a holistic approach to the research process, which ensures the best way of representing and addressing the complexities of integrated performance management systems and motivation within the context of the public sector. Seventy-six respondents, mainly senior and middle managers from various national and provincial government departments, participated in the study.The fieldwork results identified major strengths, weaknesses and proposed suggestions for the improvement of the existing performance management systems in the public service. Results were analysed, interpreted, discussed and incorporated into the recommendations. Contrary to some negative public perceptions and anecdotal evidence of poor public service performance management, the majority of senior managers in government departments are satisfied with the overall quality, value for money, relevance, appropriateness and simplicity of the process. Integration of various subsystems of performance management system is facilitated by policy initiatives such as cooperative governance and intergovernmental relations. One of the major areas of dissatisfaction is the time required for conducting the performance management process, which is often seen as a last minute compliance exercise. The performance management system has become an isolated activity, not linked to organisational strategy and processes. Additional major weaknesses of the performance management system are identified in the areas of the reward system, design of the system, objectivity of performance judgement, lack of skills and leadership support in the implementation process, communication,and monitoring and evaluation processes.The study recommends that performance management has to be approached from an integrated perspective. The process of the design of performance management must include a thorough consultation with major stakeholders.The implementation of the system has to be supported and driven by top leadership and management. The change management process should be supported by a proactive communication strategy and it should be managed strategically and by competent staff. A reward system that distinguishes high from mediocre performance should be put in place. Programmes must be implemented to ensure high levels of staff motivation. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms must be put in place to ensure implementation of sustainable performance management systems. These recommendations led to the design of an integrated performance management system.The study concludes that integrated performance management, as a multidisciplinary methodology related to organisational strategy, structure,culture, systems and processes, should be regarded as a critical tool for improving motivation and performance of individuals, teams, departments and the public service as a whole.