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Performance Appraisal Nigerias In Civil Service Management Essay

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The greatest asset of any organization is the people that work in it, its human
resource. Hence for any organization to grow, it needs to support the growth of the
people involved in it. However, one of the most difficult to implement but most
fundamental features of any human resource management; yet very relevant to
individual and organizational growth is performance appraisal (Obisi, 2011).
Performance appraisal is a process of setting employees individual targets,
monitoring those targets, measuring the results through evaluation and either
correcting or rewarding the employees performance. In other words, appraisal is the
evaluation of employees work. The main objective of any performance appraisal is to
give positive or (negative) feedback to the employee on ways to improve subsequent
performance, thereby to enhance productivity and efficiency in an organization's
performance, whether public or private. In addition, it is one of the most essential
aspects of human resource management subsystem in many third world countries.
Despite its significance and prevalence, there is a wide gap between theory and
practice hence its implementation and effectiveness has been highly controversial.
Public service sector in Nigeria currently uses the Annual Performance Evaluation
system (APER). This is based on the overall evaluation of employee's contribution to
the organization on yearly basis. However, the system is ineffective and inefficient
because evaluation is not conducted on regular basis for maximum output.
Consequently, the system creates room for subjective evaluation and favoritism in
the sense that there is no proper data base for the recording of staff activities and
tasks are not time dependent. Hence it becomes difficult for supervisors to evaluate
objectively and accurately measure deliverability. For example, in the United States
the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978, the last legal document on Civil Service
Reform, opted for an objective-based performance evaluation system in place of the
numerous informal subjective systems (Perry, 2008).
In designing a conceptual framework for an effective appraisal system, there must be
clear and measurable job specifications. The employees should be educated on what
is expected of them to do and how their actions will positively or negatively affect
their evaluation. The employees should also be aware of the goals and mission of the
organization and how they will contribute in achieving these said goals and

objectives. Furthermore, there should be participatory workforce attitude; whereby

communication is carried out with dual categories of employees in getting their
opinions on the current appraisal system and how to improve it.
Nigeria's public sector appraisal ratings are mostly inflated to favor certain
employees and others do not get true feedback about how well they have performed.
This is due to the fact that, performance appraisal is seen as the supervisors'
exclusive role and opportunity to reward loyalty and punish those considered
rebellious. In essence, the process over looks its fundamental objective of
development and growth while relishing solely on its evaluative aspect. Another
major issue has to do with the fact that the supervisors lack the knowledge and
coaching on how to conduct an effective appraisal, rather they follow the sectors
ongoing culture. Organizational culture has a strong influence on how performance
evaluation is applied. There is need for the appraisal system to be cognizant and
supportive of the working environment (Mohman et al, 1989). Furthermore unfair
appraisals demoralize the employees thereby leading to underperformance which
automatically affects the public sectors contribution to the economy thereby
stagnating the economy's development. As noted by Oh and Lewis (2009) unfair
appraisal systems has no positive effect on employees morale hence failing to
adequately motivate them to perform better

1.2 Purpose of the study

The purpose of this research paper is to critically examine the Nigeria's civil servants
performance appraisal system in terms of objective criteria and propose suggestions
for its improvement. The paper has four main goals namely:To review scholarly arguments on the concept of performance appraisal available in
academic literature;
To present an overview of the Nigeria's public sector performance appraisal system
and enumerate on the challenges currently facing the appraisal system used in the
public sector.
To identify the importance and benefits derived from fair and objective appraisal
To propose measures to improve the current system in order to improve public
servants efficiency and overall sector's productivity.

1.3 Research questions

How is performance appraisal defined by experts in academic literature?
What is the conceptual framework of implementing an effective performance
appraisal system in the civil service sector?
What are the best Standards of Performance appraisal and how can it be applied in
Nigeria's public sector for utmost productivity?
How are the current performance appraisal systems working?
Why do performance appraisals elicit adverse reaction?

1.4 Methodology
The study will be based on extensive literature review using secondary data; articles,
journals, books, Government publications, analysis of the APER forms, and
outcomes of unstructured interview conducted with officials of Federal civil service
Commission, which is the agency saddled with the responsibility of appraising
Federal civil servants in Nigeria. There is no definite theory to the literature review,
rather it is used as an aid to gather and analyze data for conceptual framework in
answer to the research questions. Furthermore, some of the information will be
based on personal work experience, having been in the public sector for the past five
years presents participant observation based on first- hands experience in the
performance appraisal process.

1.5 Structure of Study

The study has been organized into four parts; the introductory part covers the
background, purpose of study, questions to be addressed and the methodology. The
next part covers literature review which seeks to answer the research questions based
on analyses and reviews of available literature on performance appraisal and the
current appraisal system used in Nigeria's Civil service. The secondary data will be
used to frame a conceptual model that will be used analyze how the current appraisal
system is working in Nigeria. Finally, the study will be concluded with implications
and recommendations for improving the current appraisal system used in Nigeria's

civil service. It will also discuss limitations for the research and need for further
additional study.

Chapter: Two
2.1.1 Introduction
This chapter reviews literature based upon the research objectives and builds the
foundation of a theoretical framework by answering the research questions. It begins
with the historical background of performance appraisal, how the appraisal process
was introduced. It then elaborates on the definition of performance appraisal and
why it is conducted. This is followed by a literature review of the participants
involved in the process and how the evaluation is conducted. It further seeks to
examine the appraisal process in the Nigeria's civil service and the challenges facing
the system. Finally, the information generated will lead to the building of a
conceptual model.

2.1.2 Historical Background of Performance

Institutionalization of performance appraisal started as far back as the industrial
revolution when it was used as a means of measuring organizational efficiency
(Fandray, 2001). Wren (1994) affirmed that Performance appraisal was incepted
when Robert Owen used wooden colored block to measure the achievement of
employees working in the cotton Mills in Scotland at the close of work hours. During
that era, it was utilized as a disciplinary mechanism for punishing poor performance
(Kennedy & Dresser 2001). This resulted in the negative notation of the appraisal
system which turned out to be despised by both the appraiser and the appraisee. As
confirmed by Robert and Pregitzer (2007) "performance appraisal is a yearly rite of
passage in organizations that triggers dread and apprehension in the most
experienced, battle hardened manager". The above quote summarizes the extent to
which the appraisal process is disliked by the evaluators. Subsequently, organizations
tried to refine the methods linking it to other administrative matters including
reward, promotion, training and so forth, arguing that employees achievements
should not only be measured but evaluated and managed (Kennedy & Dresser 2001).
Despite the historical perspective, appraisal is both inevitable and universal. There

has been several analysis and wide criticisms of the effectiveness and use of PA
within the organizational context but up to recent times the issue is still being
debated among scholars, academicians and professionals and NO system has been
successful in meeting the desired goal.

2.1.2 Definition of Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal is a means of measuring or assessing employees'
achievements within a stated period of time using reliable measurement criteria with
the ultimate goal of providing information to superiors on how to improve
employees' effectiveness. There are tons and wide range of literature on performance
appraisal. The term has been synonymous with performance management,
performance review and performance evaluation. In the book "Strategic performance
management" the author defined Performance appraisal as "a systematic & holistic
process of work, planning, monitoring and measurement aimed at continuously
improving the teams and individual employee's contribution to achievement of
organizational goals" (Akata, 2003). This depicts that performance appraisal is used
as a means of establishing future goals, monitoring employees' progress based on
specified job description, and measuring performance, teamwork and achievements
based on specified tasks that can be linked with organizational goals and objectives.
Furthermore, performance appraisal is used to formally determine employees'
effectiveness and contribution (Ikramullah et al, 2011). In addition, Fletcher (2001)
opined performance appraisal as a means by which organizations develop
competency, improve employee motivation and achieve equitable allocation of
resources. In essence, performance appraisal achieves multiple purposes from
measurement to motivation and resource allocation. As noted by Cleveland, Murphy,
and Williams (1989), performance appraisal systems can be used to motivate
employees through remuneration, promotions, retrenchment, and the improvement
of skills, competence and expertise. In addition, performance evaluation can be said
to be a process of measuring employees contribution which turns out to be beneficial,
both to the staff and the organization at large if carried out properly.

Moreover, Seidan, Sally and Jessica E. Sowa (2011) believed that the ultimate
objective of any evaluation procedure is aligning individual goals and objectives with
organizational objectives and priorities while individual performance should be
reflected in how they contribute to organizational growth and development.
According to Bassey, Esu and Inyang (2009), performance appraisal system is a

means of investigating employee achievement over a certain period of time for

achieving organizational goals. Consequently, performance appraisal is a means of
knowledge sharing among subordinates and superiors to adequately measure the
progress of the employee which will aid in making strategic human resource
In addition, Atiomo (2000) agrees with Fajana (1997) that performance appraisal is a
method of assessing the human resource capabilities and skills and also to identify
areas of improvement (Fajana, 1997; Atiomo, 2000; Obisi 2010). Atiomo (2000)
noted that in order for performance appraisal to be effective there must be clear job
description hence every individual needs to know what his role is in the organization.
It can be deduced that performance appraisal is the process through which an
organization collects individual's data in terms of strengths and weaknesses in order
to explore ones opportunities and potentials for development and growth while also
determining future threats that can be harmful to one's career and the organizational
setting at large, which is subsequently communicated to the individual.

2.1.3 Objectives of performance appraisal

The primary aim of performance appraisal is to improve the effectiveness of an
organization by assessing the impact of individuals employed in it (Cumming, 1972).
Performance appraisal generally plays two dominant roles: judgmental and
developmental (Cummings and Schwab, 1973; Daley, 2002; Condrey 2010).
Although, these two categories are often seen as potentially conflicting, they both
share the ultimate goal of enhancing productivity. As part of larger performance
evaluation system, organizations conduct appraisals to serve the purpose of
improving employee effectiveness (Denisi and Robert D. Pritchard 2006).
Development approaches focuses on within-person decisions, individual potentials
and adding value to the employee rather than on his or her current skills and
capabilities. The approach tends to link performance with training, development
opportunities or potential extrinsic rewards. Unfortunately, even in the most
objective appraisal system linking training to evaluation proved difficult (Daley,
2002). This approach aids the employee in knowing his capabilities and advice on
how to explore his hidden abilities. Categorically speaking, the evaluator plays the
role of a guidance and counselor. In essence, the organization needs to determine the
benefits it can accrue from enhancing the employee's hidden potentials. Hence it is
important to consider the question of development for whom?

Judgmental approach focuses between-person decisions, pursuing the management

system or command-and-control model of authority (Daley, 2002; Condrey 2010).
The role is to measure performance for the purpose of making administrative
decisions regarding promotions, rewards, merit pay, punishment and other uses such
as test validation criteria. The supervisor plays the role of a judge and uses his
authority to make decisions that will improve employee performance. Merit pay is
appealing to most public organization as a means of cutting cost and improving
productivity however, the practice is somewhat different (Lovrich, 1987; Perry,
Patrakis, and Miller, 1989; Daley 2002). The reward structure imbedded in the
approach even though it is essential has proved to be an important limitation among
public sectors due to resource constraint and bureaucratic procedures.
In addition, feedback is very critical in the appraisal system because employees need
to know the result of the evaluation. They hope to get responses on enhancing their
performance from the appraisal process. There is also the desire for objective
appraisal likewise any perceived unfairness and subjectivity can ultimately
demotivate employees this can lead to potential conflict between individuals and
organizations (Murphy and Cleveland 1995; Daley 2002; Condrey 2010).
There is also the desire of development and reward both by the organizations and the
employees. Regrettably, one cannot go with the other, hence the achievement of
development may hinder reward and vice versa. If individuals showcase an excellent
performance, they may receive reward and miss out on the needed training that will
boost their careers. Adversely, in order to develop employee potentials,
organizations' may miss out on rewarding excellent performance which can further
motivate employees (Longenecker and Nykodym, 1996; Daley 2002).
Merging developmental and judgmental purposes may prove to be the best solution
to an effective appraisal system. The supervisor needs to be a coach as well as a judge
(Roberts, 2003). Where there is an ample degree of employee trust and loyalty,
objective measurement criteria and participatory work force attitude, such a combine
system can prove to be effective (Daley, 2002). However, due to the conflicting role
of the two approaches, it may not be possible to merge judgment and development in
one evaluation process (Daley, 2002; Denisi and Pritchard 2006). Intellectually,
previous research has indicated that, the purpose of appraisal influences the
supervisors' decision in the evaluation process (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995;
Bowman, 1999; Daley, 2002). Hence, even with the most objective appraisal criteria,
the purpose for which an appraisal is to be conducted dictates the direction of the
evaluation outcome.

What it focuses on
Individual capacity; value addition & exploring hidden abilities
Training, Rewards and improvement opportunities
Interpersonal and relational skills & command-control model of authority
Enhancing effective administrative decisions
Combination of judgmental and developmental
Decision making and mentorship
General leadership and personal effectiveness development opportunities
Table. 1 Objectives of Appraisal

2.1.4 Participants in performance appraisal

Conventionally, performance appraisal is conducted by direct supervisors because
they are in the best position to monitor and assess their subordinates (Kondrasuk,
Riley, & Hua, 1999; Daley, 2002; Kondrasuk, 2012). This method is widely used and
estimated to occur in almost ninety percent of the cases (Daley, 2002). Performance
appraisal is on one hand seen as a management system tool in establishing power
and authority and on the other hand as a strategy to strengthen employee-supervisor
relationship through good communication and knowledge sharing. In addition to the
aforementioned method, Daley (2002) noted that an organization can employ the
use of agency insiders (e.g., self-appraisal, peer review, subordinate appraisal, and
multi raters) or the employment of outsiders (e.g., personnel staff, consultants,
assessment centers, customers and clients).

The self-appraisal is an exceptionally useful technique whereby the employee

assesses his or her own achievements since one knows the accurate information of
the performance. Although questionable in a judgmental approach due to self bias
and subjectivity but quiet useful in developmental appraisals (Murphy and Cleveland
1995; Daley, 2002). Self-appraisal provides the organization with direct information
of employees' apparent needs for enhancement which is very vital in a developmental
setting. In essence, it is important to understand employees' way of thinking when
applying this method because they tend to think more of their potentials -what they
can do rather than present performance-what they did (Daley, 2002).
Peer review approach employs several appraisers, whereby employees are appraised
by their colleagues. Research indicates that evaluations from peers are just as precise
as those conducted by the supervisors (Murphy and Cleveland 1995; Daley, 2002;
Kondrasuk, 2012). For the reason that peers are more in contact with the employee,
witness the day to day activities and observe behaviors that would be overlooked by a
supervisor, the evaluation will tend to be more inclusive. Peer ratings often face
subjective concerns because they are disliked by employees due to lack of adequate
training and guidance in the process. Furthermore, there is often the fear of making a
negative impact on individual careers and relationships.
Appraisal of supervisors and managers by subordinates creates enormous
apprehension from both parties. This is as a result of its anti hierarchical status
which tends to undermine authority patterns (Daley, 1992; Murphy and Cleveland,
1995; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2012). The nature of the subordinate appraisal makes
it's very difficult to adopt and it's rarely used by organizations even though; it is
strongly recommended and advocated by some scholars. Subordinate appraisals can
aid enhance the quality of the working environment and also provide mangers with
relevant feedback that will improve their workforce attitude. It can also portray the
organization as a participatory leadership structure whereby decisions are made
from bottom-up not only top-bottom.
Furthermore, team management approach employs the use of multi raters. This is a
collaboration of supervisors and managers from different units working together on
an appraisal panel in order to reduce rater errors and also improve fairness and
objectivity (Edwards, 1991; Daley, 2002; Condrey 2012). Team management
encourages knowledge sharing about skills and competencies and also aids in
relationship building which leads to cooperation and coordination. This method has
the highest chance of integrating both judgmental and developmental approach
within a single appraisal process. The role of coach, counseling and advocate can be

performed by the direct supervisor while the judgment role carried out by other team
managers (Daley, 2002).
Outsourcing of the appraisal process or participation of outsiders whereby experts
are brought in to evaluate employee performance is an infrequent approach.
Employees are evaluated based on their traits and characteristics which is basically a
job analysis approach that can possibly lead to litigations (Mohrman, Resnick-West,
and Lawler 1989; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2012). In addition, clients or customers can
also be incorporated in the appraisal process because they are the receivers of service
hence they can provide adequate information about employee performance and
relationship. This approach is more familiar in public organizations and can depict
transparency and accountability.
The combination of supervisor, subordinate, peer and self-ratings are the basis of
360-degrees performance measures. This measure which seeks to provide a more
balanced form of appraisal has lately ignited significant interest among public
administrators and scholars. Similar to other techniques, 360-degree appraisal is
only useful when focused on job-related components and is likely to be effective
when employed for developmental purposes rather than into a judgmental system.
Focusing on improving the value of employees, the impact of 360-degree feedback
can be highly successful due to its participative technique (DeNisi and Kluger, 2000;
Ghorpade, 2000).
In conclusion, if the participants are not adequately trained on the appraisal process,
then there will be errors in the result. Evaluators often do not possess the necessary
skills needed to conduct the appraisal (Vinson, 1996;Grote, 1996; Fletcher, 2001;
Kondrasuk 2012). Hence most appraisals are not free from errors and it is not a
surprise that the results tend to be less than ideal while the process most often than
not fails to succeed.

What is appraised?
Why they appraise
Direct Supervisors
Personality traits and effective delivery of Job responsibilities

Assess subordinates personal effectiveness and performance

Self Appraisal
Individual strengths, weaknesses, achievements and potentials
Accurate information of performance & needs for enhancement
Reduce bias & increases perception of fairness
Peer Review
Attitude, team spirit and personality traits
Inclusive evaluation and feedback mechanism
Subordinate Appraisal
Supervisor-subordinate relationship, delegation and general leadership qualities
Improvement in quality of working environment and management performance
Multi Raters
Skills and competencies
Reduce subjectivity in staff performance assessment and promote excellence
Personality traits and characteristics
Transparency and accountability
Job-related components
Participatory workforce attitude and objectivity
Table. 2 Participants in Appraisal

2.1.6 Procedures for Evaluating Performance

A transparent and continuous process for evaluating employee would be much

appreciated by individuals and the organization at large. The best and most widely
acceptable standard of measuring performance is job-relatedness, which can be
achieved in two ways-"enabling supervisors to discriminate between employees
solely in terms of their job performance, and the organization must be able to prove
or demonstrate the existence of that relationship" (Daley, 2002; Condrey 2012).
In addition, Marmora (1995) and Saltz (1996) noted that performance standards
should be established at the initial stage of performance evaluation. The standard
should then be subsequently communicated to both the evaluator and the employees
in order for them to know what is expected of them to do. This is followed by the
actual evaluation process, comparing of the result with the standard set, and giving
feedback to the employee (Obisi, 2011). Daley (2002) & Condrey (2012) opined that
reliable, practical and controllable criteria must be taken into account when selecting
performance measures. Reliability in terms of generating consistent results; practical
in terms of availability for users; and controllable in form of representing individual
The effectiveness of all appraisal system is determined by the performance
standards. Hence standards must be established according to individual job
description which should be tied to organizational goals and objectives. Furthermore,
these standards should be a written document which will make it legally binding and
objective. Failure to align performance standards with organizational goals and
objectives leads to misunderstandings, poor morale, lack of job satisfaction,
ineffectiveness, and confusion (Daley, 2002; Condrey 2012).
Knowledge, skills and abilities, work ethics, personal traits or characteristics and
results all can be used to assess performance (Milkovich and Boudreau, 1994). Even
though, knowledge, skills and abilities are difficult and costly to measure due to the
fact that they are inherent in an individual not specific to the job itself but they
signify the minimum requirement needed for optimum job performance.
The two most objective performance appraisal instruments (management by
objectives and behaviorally anchored scales) are layered with the foundation of
behaviors and results (Murphy and Cleveland 1995; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2012).
Behavior is the manner in which individuals conduct themselves while performing
on their jobs; results are the effect brought about by those conducts. The use of
behavior is generally preferred in the public sector while the private sectors are result
oriented (Daley, 2002).

Behaviors are mostly used in the public sector due to the nature of the organization
which encourages and incorporates teamwork. Ultimately, organizational culture,
organizational climate and nature of the job influence the direction of the appraisal
procedure (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 1994 & 2012).
On the contrary, performance appraisal systems tend to measure extreme
performances accurately while failing to differentiate middle-range performance,
hence individual behaviors may not be accurately evaluated (Gote, 196; Kondurasuk,
2011). Many appraisal systems are ineffective and highly unreliable due to rating
errors (Roberts, 1998).


Establish Performance Standards
Communicate performance expectation to employees
Measure actual performance
Compare actual performance with standards
Discuss appraisal with employees
Indicate corrective action when necessary
fig1. Source: The Evaluation Process Adapted from Mamonia C.B., 1995and Obisi
Chris, 2011.

2.1.7 Techniques of Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal research has primarily focused on perfecting the appraisal
instrument and measurement issues which has led to the system being built around a
central technique (Daley, 2000). Basically, there are two appraisal techniquessubjective based procedure which deals with observable acts and the objective based
procedure which defines performance according to tasks and targets (Orpen &
Christopher, 1997; Daley 2002). The type of technique used drives the appraisal
process and contributes to organizational development.
Nevertheless, due to the inherent problems associated with the subjective techniques
in terms of lack of communication, inter-rater differences, errors and inability to
adequately explain to others the procedure of the appraisal, objective technique is

most preferred. Hence, behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS) and management
by objective (MBO) approaches are most often used in place of subjective essays,
graphic rating scales, forced choice checklist and forced distribution interpersonal
comparison (Daley, 1997 & 2002).
Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales: Behaviorally anchored rating scales are a
modernized or extended version of the subjective graphic scale. They are an apparent
attempt to transform the graphic rating scale into an objective appraisal in terms of
level of performance and performance objectives. In other words, they are corrective
measures for many of the subjective concerns that cloud the validity and hinder the
use of graphic rating scales (Daley 2002; Condrey, 2010).
Even though BARS have received much attention in the private sector, they are also
relevant to governmental settings because it is process-oriented rather than resultoriented. This is perhaps even more characteristics of public sector than private
organizations. Teamwork and conditions of fragmented authority which are more
likely to occur in government agencies are factors that inherent in the BARS
approach to performance appraisal.
This technique specifies definite computable, quantifiable and observable job
behavior on a range and the employee is rated on the basis of his/her behavior along
the continuum. The scales combine elements of critical incident and graphic rating
approach. In anchoring behaviors with specific examples BARS has two main options
to choose from- behaviorally expected scales (BES) which represents managements
judgment call as to what can be done and the behaviorally observed scales (BOS)
which anchors its behaviors firmly in the reality of the situation (Latham and Wexley,
1994; Daley 2002; Condrey 2010).
Furthermore, the BARS represent a passive application of participatory leadership
where employees are incorporated in decision making process. For the approach to
work it must be accompanied by bureaucratic immunity and structural
accommodation. Bureaucratic immunity prevents ordinary standards procedures
and control process which can thwart change and success. Structural accommodation
employs a high degree of autonomy in terms of decision making and resource
allocation (Thompson, Hochwarter, and Mathys, 1997; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2010).
Management by Objective Appraisal system:- The management by objective
approach originated as a process whereby managers can transform their strategic
plans into implementable action (Daley, 1992; 2002). In this approach, participation

is central; goals and objectives are worked out based on mutual understanding. This
enhances teamwork and relationship building among the supervisors and the
employee. In addition, there is constant communication between the participants,
prior notice is given before scheduling the evaluation process and at the end of the
process "performance review or rating" is discussed and analyzed.
The MBO is a result-oriented and objective approach which often decentralizes
power to lower-level decision makers and tailors each individual's performance with
job responsibilities. Employee participation in work-related decision making gives
him/her a sense of belonging which increases performance and productivity.
Furthermore, MBO is a means of setting precedence and resource allocation for
achieving them. However, the public sector often works in ambiguity due to the
political environment that dominates it. This has the potential to undermine the
implementation of MBO in that sector. Hence, organizations resort to using the
BARS format for those positions that involve numerous incumbents.
Subjective technique
-Relatively faster and easier to administer
- Since is not based on measurable inputs, low performers can be rated as high
performers. This has the capacity to motivate them.
-Bias assessment,
-Lack of communication
-Demoralizes performers
-Inefficient allocation of human resources
Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales
-Teamwork and relationship building

-Process oriented
-Use of quantifiable & measurable rating scale
-High degree of autonomy
-Need for bureaucratic immunity
Management by Objective
-All inclusive participatory process
-Result oriented
-Constant communication
-Use of quantifiable rating approach
-Mutual understanding among supervisors and employees
-good feedback mechanism
-increase performance and productivity
-Ambiguous political environment and complex structure of public service
Table. 3 Strengths and weaknesses of techniques

2.1.8 Appraisal Error

A number of studies have examined different variables and processes relating to the
accuracy of performance ratings. The appraisal systems are only as good as the
people who use them, even the most objective systems with all their advantages are
just tools that guide us in decision making. There has been extensive literature which
covered the topic of rater error in performance appraisal (Landy and Farr, 1980;
Daley, 1992; Latham and Wexley, 1994; Murphy and Cleveland, 1995; Bowman,
1999; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2010). There are various errors which can affect the
objectivity of appraisal negatively.

Organizational error arises due to vague or misunderstood goals as result of

inefficient communication channels (Dessler, 2000). Lack of clarity about goals will
lead to the employees performing less than expected while managers will have
unrealistic expectations in terms of what can be accomplished on the job.
Furthermore, managers may have hidden agenda of exercising their powers and
using the appraisal as a control mechanism or intimidation and harassment tool
rather than encouraging productivity. Finally teamwork may be appraised
individually. As a result, the performance appraisal can become part of organization's
overall management control system (Swiss, 1991; Longenecker and Nykodym, 1996;
Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2010).
Structural error occurs due to inadequate supervisory training on the appraisal
system which leads to unreliability and inconsistency. Recent research has examined
the effect of "frame of reference" (FOR) training on rating results and methods. The
main aim of FOR training is to train raters to share and use familiar
conceptualizations of performance when making evaluations (Woehr 1994; Arvey &
Murphy, 2012). The researchers concluded that FOR-trained raters typically proof to
be more effective and provide substantially more precise ratings than do amateur
raters. Similarly, the failure to establish realistic goals creates failure in the appraisal
system. Objective appraisal can only be achieved if there are realistic goals to
compare the result with. Furthermore, the appraisal process can be abused if
employees are asked to match behaviors to limited, incomplete set of criteria or when
the appraisal are adjusted to fit predetermined decisions. (Longenecker and
Nykodym, 1996; Daley, 2002; Condrey, 2010).
In addition, performance appraisal depends highly on the skills of the appraiser,
hence the genesis of rater error. Errors are committed when individuals are failed to
be assessed based on their performance but rather compared to someone else's
performance, personal traits and characteristics. These contrast error approach
suffer significant validity problems (Daley, 1992&2002; Condrey 2012). Daley (2002)
further asserted that whenever responsibilities inherent in the job itself are
substituted for a measure of incumbent's job performance errors are committed.
Dominance of one item in the evaluation process while ignoring critical factors also
leads to unidimensional errors. One-dimensional error can be related to either
substantive or mechanical concerns. Similarly, when a single good performance in
one aspect of the job becomes the basis of overall assessment, an error known as the
halo effect occurs while horns effect occurs when a negative incident overshadows
the entire appraisal process (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995; Daley, 2002; Condrey,

Consequently, raters can also award everyone an average rating thereby exhibiting
central-tendency error or awarding extremely good or bad ratings which exhibit
restricted-range. This occurs partly due to perceive resentment by the supervisors or
fear of de motivating employees from lower rating and when supervisors are required
to justify high or low ratings (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995; Daley, 2002; Condrey,
Interpersonal biases can also occur due to the need to maintain harmonious
relationship, worksite politics, external preferences vis--vis politics, religion, sex,
ethnic preference, and race may introduce intentional distortions and manipulations
into the appraisal process (Robinson, Fink and Allen, 1996).


Conceptual framework was developed based on relevant literatures of performance
appraisal discussed. The model is based on the author's understanding of what an
effective appraisal system should comprise of. It provide basis for determining
factors that will enhance employees performance and also supervisors objective
appraisal. The framework is also consistent with relevant theories which emphasize
individual characteristics, and both the internal and external characteristics of the
organization, as drivers for performance improvement.
Performance Appraisal Improvement
Time dependent delivery
Communicate Feedback
Clear job description

Appraiser Evaluation
Development needs & training
Effective job & Personal skills
Communicate Measurement criteria
Discussion & Clarification of employee role & responsibility
Continuous evaluation
Establish measurement criteria based on job description
Well articulated Organizational Goals
Training Raters
Fig. 3: Proposed Conceptual model for performance appraisal improvement
The proposed conceptual framework utilizes input and output approach. The input
component comprises of five jobs dependent interrelated activities that will lead to
improving the appraisal system. Civil servants performance is difficult to assess due
to vague and complex goals which are hard to evaluate. Hence it is necessary for each
government agency to set well articulated organizational goals which are realistic and
attainable. These goals should be well internalize within the organization through
campaigns, town hall meetings, pamphlets and constant reminder about the mission
and vision of the agency. Subsequently, departmental and team goals should be tied
to the pre-defined organizational goals. Furthermore, employees' responsibilities
should also be drawn and tied to the overall departmental and or team deliverables.
They should be made to understand their roles and what is expected of them. These
defined roles should be discussed between superior and subordinate in order to
establish whether employee possess the required personal effectiveness and job skills
to deliver the responsibilities. On the other hand, it will aid in establishing clearly
defined tasks of each individual and quantifiable targets which can lead to time
dependent delivery of assignments. This has the capacity to minimize the subjectivity
associated with the current appraisal system in Nigeria.

Once responsibilities are agreed upon and resources are allocated for delivery of
tasks and bridging skill gaps where necessary, results will be observed by the
superior for a period of six months. At the end of this period, appraisal exercise that
will lead to observe outcomes will be conducted. This will define and set the output
component of this model into effect. As enumerated in previous sections, lack of
training and skills of superiors on how to appraise subordinates is a key challenge
impacting negatively on the credibility of the current appraisal system. Hence,
supervisors should be trained on the appraisal process, how it should be conducted
and for whom the system was designed. They should be made to understand the logic
behind the process and the need for objective measurement to motivate employees,
reward hard work, and excellence in service to increase organizational contribution
to the sect oral performance. To enhance objectivity in the appraisal rating,
measurement criteria should be established based on job description. This criterion
should be communicated to the entire public servants and also incorporated in the
organizational culture. By communicating the established criterion, employees will
know what it is actually measured and how their performance will affect the
evaluation outcomes.
At the appraisal stage, employees should be given chance to appraise themselves
before their superior does. This is to give the superiors an insight into the employees'
perception about his personal development, skills and job delivery. Appraiser
evaluation should then be conducted between the supervisor and employee in form
of a discussion session. During this session, employee performance and future career
plans should be discussed. Where inconsistencies are observed, the two parties
should deliberate on the possible causes and remedies of such deficiencies thereby
setting an action plan to bridge gaps for future development and training needs. This
will also provide room for feedback on areas of improvement and also encourage
performance. Conversely, if performance is adjudged to be excellent, reward should
be administered to motivate performing staffs and encourage low performers.
Depending on organizational capabilities, rewards could take monetary incentives,
awards or both.
In conclusion, evaluation should be a continuous process which should be done twice
yearly for effective performance monitoring, evaluation and feedback.

Chapter: Three

3.1 Unstructured Interview

Unstructured interview was conducted to serve as a source of reliable information
that may supplement, validate or invalidate some of the theoretical perspectives
discussed in the literature on issues pertaining to performance appraisal in Nigerian
public service in particular. To ensure coherence, reliability and uniformity in the
sampling process, appraisers and appraisees with minimum of five years experience
in this regards were interviewed. Ten appraisers whom are management staffs of the
Federal Civil Service Commission and ten appraisees were respectively interviewed
due to time constraint. Even though it can serve as representative sample, since the
commission is responsible for overseeing the performance appraisal function of all
Federal entities in Nigeria, interviews across organizations would have provided
more robust and detail insights on issues facing performance appraisal. The
questionnaire administered to the categories is as outlined below:
Appraisers' questionnaire
Do you have a clear knowledge on the objectives of performance appraisal and the
need for career development and training?
Where you given any form of training on how to conduct an objective appraisal?
What is your overall perception of the current appraisal process in terms of
What are some of the challenges you are currently facing in terms of being appraised
and appraising your subordinates?
What are your suggestions in rectifying this challenges mentioned?
Appraisees questionnaire
Where you provided with a clear and written job description upon your recruitment?
What is your perception about the current performance appraisal system?
From your own point of view, how fair and objective is the current appraisal process?
Do you receive feedback from your supervisors after the evaluation process?

In your own opinion, what are some of the challenges you are currently facing in
terms of being appraised?
Do you have any suggestions in making the present system more effective?

3.2 Performance Appraisal in Nigeria's Civil

The Nigerian civil service comprises of all Nigerian government employees excluding
the military. Employees are mainly career civil servants, progressing through the
ranks on the basis of qualifications and seniority. Section 277 of the 1999
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria defines the Civil Service as the
"Service of the Federation in a civil capacity, as staff of the office of the President, the
Vice President, a ministry or department of the Government of the Federation
assigned with the responsibility for any business of the Government of the
Federation" (FRN, 1999). In essence, the civil service was set up to carry out
Government business and to render loyal service to any administration without
prejudice and insulated from partisan politics. On the other hand, Gberevbie (2010)
opined that the Civil Service is an institution established for the execution of
Government Policies associated with social service delivery and infrastructure
development. This depicts that Nigerians look up to the Civil service in terms of
formulating development strategies, policies and programs in such a way that will
stimulate social and economic changes.
The Nigerian civil service is patterned based on the British model. It consists of
political class and bureaucrats of varying profession and technical expertise. The civil
servants are divided into classes, administrative class, executive class, professional
class, clerical and sub-clerical class. Each class is further divided into many groups
known as cadres; each cadre has from four to eight grades or promotional levels. The
Nigerian civil service has five basic functions, namely policy implementation;
provision of inputs for policy formulation; investigative and regulatory functions;
ensuring continuity of public administration; and informative function (Office of
Head of Service of the Federation, 2009). It is an important institution of the state
which occupies an essential and unique position in the formulation and
implementation of National development plans. In essence, the policy formulation
function embedded in the civil service requires skilled and well-motivated workforce.
In order to assess the performance and progress of the country it becomes necessary
to evaluate the performance of civil servants. The Nigerian Institute of Personnel

Management defined performance appraisal as a method of stock taking that

presents a chance to review individual performance periodically, or in most cases
annually. Gilbert (2010) asserts that before 1979, Confidential Reporting System was
used in the Civil Service where appraisal was done in secret and appraisees were not
informed about the result or outcome of the evaluation. However, following the
Udoji [1] report of 1974, the Open Reporting System and Management by Objectives
(MBO) techniques were introduced as part of the recommendation for the reform of
the Civil Service system. This brought about major change in evaluation system
whereby employees reads and agrees to whatever has been written on him and also
has the right to challenge the ratings by his superior officer. The Panel also
recommended continuous job evaluation and grading, unfortunately all the
recommendations regarding performance evaluation criteria were partially or
haphazardly implemented.
The Civil Service adopted the Annual Performance Evaluation Report system (APER)
based on the Udoji report of 1979. The APER system is an annual evaluation
procedure whereby employee's work ethics, skills and capabilities are assessed for
the suitability of promotion and training (Mustapha, 2008). However, it is merely in
theory rather than practice because most promotions especially to managerial cadre,
trainings and job placements are based on political affiliation, nepotism, tribalism, or
favoritism. This practice leads to poor performance and ineffectiveness within the
civil service. As confirmed by Echu (2010) that job appointment and promotion may
not necessarily be based on competency and qualification. Furthermore, the Public
Service Review commission main report (2004) asserts that "The present Annual
Performance Evaluation Report (APER) system is unreliable as a means of
assessment of an officer's performance". The report further stated that the system is
cumbersome and complicated; lacks objectivity and the measures are not always
In November each year, the annual appraisal process (as shown below) starts with
the distribution of the appraisal forms to employees by the Human resource
departments. The necessary portions of the forms are then subsequently filled and
submitted to the reviewing officer. The well defined time period for the distribution
and subsequent submission of forms makes it possible for the evaluation process to
be conducted on time. It further gives ample time to the employees and reviewing
officers to prepare for proper evaluation and interview. The evaluation interview is
structured in form of a coaching-style system. It normally takes a form of answers
and questions session where both sides have to defend its position and reach an
agreement on final grade for the ratee; however the final decision falls on the rater.

Finally, the appraisal system is tied to a reward structure in form of performance

based bonuses, which is to be paid at the end of each year for good performance. The
bonus paid is calculated as a percentage of ratee's annual pay based on one's position
in the organization. In contrast, civil servants who have not performed to expectation
are either issued with a query or given a verbal warning.
2. Performance evaluation process in the civil service
In addition, Mustapha (2008) affirms that some of the challenges facing the effective
implementation of the APER system includes but not limited to inefficient feedback
mechanisms, poor objectivity, lack of training and knowledge on the role of the
appraisal structure, and fear of reprisals in case of adverse reports. This was further
confirmed by Gilbert (2006) when he identified the factors responsible for the
ineffective appraisal system including lack of proper understanding; lack of
objectivity and courage by the supervisors; desire to give close friends and relations
more advantage over others; and ignorance of vision and mission of the organization.
Furthermore, subjective appraisals may arise due to the annual evaluation of
employees because the superiors may have forgotten certain aspects of the
performance which failed to be recorded. This is confirmed by Dogarawa (2011)
when he states that one of the main problems of performance rating is periodic
appraisal which is often influenced by recent significant behavior rather than
collective past effective and ineffective behaviors. Moreover, Mustapha (2010)
suggests that appraisal should be conducted continuously by direct superiors for
maximum measurement of outputs rather than just inputs. The issue of favoritism
and nepotism was noted by Gilbert (2006) that the APER system is constantly being
abused by favoring some employees over others either due to personal relationships,
or tribalism thereby making the system lose its credibility.

3.2.1 The APER Form

The APER form applies to all categories of service and civil servants; hence there is
no difference between technical and administrative staff. Nevertheless, there are
some variations between the senior cadre and the junior cadre. The yearly APER is
divided into five sections. The first part contains employee's personal record and
leave records; part two contains tasks and targets set, job description, key
achievements, training/course attended in the year under review and job
performance; in this part the employee fills his tasks and targets based on his job
description for the year to measure whether he has performed to expectation. The

third part evaluates character traits, assessment of performance by superior, work

ethics, leadership qualities, training needs and teamwork; the fourth parts specifies
next year's tasks and targets, comments by the employee on the assessment,
declaration/signature by the employee and the reporting officer; the last part is the
counter signing officer's report, who is normally the immediate superior of the
reporting officer. The countersigning officer makes the process more transparent and
creates room for feedback mechanism and monitoring which can control supervisors
and reviewers from being subjective to some extent.
In addition, The APER form is well structured and comprehensive. It captures all the
relevant aspects of what is to be measured in appraisal process in terms of job
descriptions and character traits; hence it is more of a developmental approach
format. Furthermore, the form makes it possible for employees to specify their future
training needs which will further boost their careers and make them more efficient
thereby also reducing the tasked placed on the human resource department of
determining the kind of training an employee needs. Declaration section is also a
sign of objectivity because an employee can express his/her opinion about the
appraisal process and one is not liable to sign the form if he/she feels the process is
subjective. In response to questions on the comprehensiveness of the APER form,
interviewees commended the existing format and stated that the problem does not
lay with the design of the form but rather on the evaluation process and how the
appraisal is conducted. However, Gilbert (2006) observes that by the use of APER
forms, marks are so generously awarded to the extent that in a given group of
employees to be assessed no one scores less than ninety five percent with some
exception scoring up to hundred percent which is impractical and impossible in
objective appraisal, yet no evidence of high performance or excellence exist in the
Nigeria's public sector.
In conclusion, the Public Service Review commission main report (2004) believes
that the present appraisal system should be abandoned due to its inefficiency and the
old confidential reporting system re-introduced, subsequently the APER form should
be redesigned to conform with the confidential reporting system. On the other hand,
Gilbert (2010) affirms that Government should commission consultants walking with
in-house committee to redesign a standardized assessment format and develop new
performance management system.


Based on the analysis of available literature on performance appraisal and the

appraisal system in Nigeria's civil service, and result of interview conducted with
officials of the Civil Service Commission, one cannot say that the system is
unsatisfactory however the inefficiency of the process overrides its effectiveness.
Some of the challenges currently facing the appraisal system include embedded
organizational culture, Lack of participatory leadership, unclear job description,
inadequate training, discontinuous appraisal process, lack of commitment to
employee development, and subjectivity in assessment.
Organizational culture has a deep impact on employee's performance which can be
either positive or negative depending on the norms and values of the organization
(Shahzad, 2012). According to interviewees the appraisal process has not been
effective because employees tend to follow the organizational culture hence there has
been no room for improvement and the system also fails to recognize the importance
of the appraisal process. Furthermore, it has been mention in the literature review
that one major problem that lead to ineffectiveness of the appraisal process is its lack
of inclusion in the organizational culture and practice (Grote, 1996; Kondrasuk,
Moreover, if there is no participatory workforce attitude in the appraisal whereby the
process is implemented from the top to the bottom then it tends to be unsuccessful
(Grote, 1996; Kondrasuk, 2012). In the civil service, the process was designed and
implemented without taking into consideration employees contributions. Hence the
process is mainly geared not participatory which brings about lack of commitment on
the part of the employees and blocks chances of innovation and creativity on how to
reform the process. It further widens the gap between the supervisors and
employees, thereby making it impossible for employees to speak up during the
interview process due to fear of negative repercussions. Furthermore when
performance evaluation is used as an instrument of threat, harassment, power or
authority, the employee's growth and value of the performance evaluation method
both decline (Grote, 1998; Roberts, 1998; Kondrasuk 2012).
In addition, lack of clear and defined job description makes the process ineffective
because performance measurements standards must be established according to
individual job description which should be tied to organizational goals and
objectives. Hence if there is no clear job description then the question becomes what
is actually measured? Responses from the interview pointed out that no written job
description was specified upon their recruitment; rather they are just expected to do
what they are being told by the supervisors. The literature review reveals that

appraisal errors occur due to misunderstood goals or lack of clarity of goals and
objective appraisal can only be achieved if there are realistic goals to compare the
result with. (Dressler 2000). Hence, failure to align performance standards with job
description leads to misunderstandings, lack of satisfaction, ineffectiveness, and
confusion in the appraisal process (Daley, 2002; Condrey 2012).
Similarly, it has been observed that supervisors are not well equipped on the
appraisal process. As confirmed by Gilbert (2006) & Mustapha (2008) in the
literature review, that the appraisal process is ineffective in Nigeria's civil service due
to lack of understanding and inadequate training. It is important for supervisors to
acquire skills on how to evaluate present and past performance and also how to
coach employees on future improvements. Without clear understanding of the
process, the system tends to be misused and hence it is used as a means of authority
and power rather than for development purposes.
Moreover, if the appraisal process is conducted for employee improvement then
there is need for a continuous evaluation process. Quite the opposite, the appraisal in
the civil service is done on a yearly basis hence supervisors tend to forget past
performance thereby evaluating appraisee based on recent events, performance and
character traits. Furthermore, the appraisers fail to consider the process as part of
the job responsibility rather they see it as a yearly burden. This arises because the
appraisal process is conducted once a year.
Despite this fact, the system also fails to develop employee's career. Even though the
APER form has a provision for training needs, it is merely theoretical rather than
practical. According to available literature, one of the objectives of appraisal is for
development, adding value to employees. Hence is the system fails to recognize and
assess employees needs then one wonders why the system was set up in the first
place. In several cases, it has been observed that, employees are nominated for
training based on personal relationship with supervisors rather than on good
performance or need for training. This fails to motivate employees because they
believe training is independent of the process, in other words even with the appraisal
process their needs are not considered.
In conclusion, all the challenges elaborated leads to subjectivity in appraisal
assessment. As summarized by Banjoko, "In Nigeria, performance appraisal is being
used in many organizations today as a political tool for helping to advance the course
of favorites or for obstructing and thwarting the career path and progress of 'villains'
whose faces the appraiser would not like to see. Thus subjectivity and favoritism by

those supervisors who strongly believe in the 'Coker is my cousin syndrome"

(Banjoko, 1996). If one is not trained well in the process then there are high chances
of favoritism. Similarly if organizational culture depends on personal relationships
and rapport then it leads to nepotism. Likewise if there is no clear job description
and measurement standard, then supervisors can use their discretion to accord
ratings based on personal judgments. Furthermore, when the process is not
conducted continuously then there are high chances of errors and bias. According to
literature reviewed, when there is inadequate training, then performance evaluation
can be used as an instrument of threat, harassment, power or authority, thereby
stagnating employee's growth and declining the value of the performance evaluation
method (Grote, 1998; Roberts, 1998; Kondrasuk 2012). All the challenges facing the
Nigeria's civil service performance appraisal are therefore relevant and considered
sufficient to negatively affect process.

Chapter: Four
4.1 Conclusions
The performance appraisal system for civil servants in Nigeria has proved not being
effective in ensuring transparent and objective assessment of civil servants. Much
work and planning waits to be done to ensure its success.
In this research, we have reviewed scholarly literature on the definition of
performance appraisal system in general; its objectives and the criteria for
conducting the process. It is evident from the review that performance appraisal is an
important management tool which is used for measuring employee's achievements in
the job over a period of time and his/her potential for development. Furthermore,
most scholars agreed on the need to align individual's goals and objectives to
organizational goals in order to achieve maximum productivity. However, the
purpose for which the appraisal is conducted dictates the direction of the evaluation.
In addition, the best standard for appraisal involves objective measurement criteria
and participatory workforce attitude. Ultimately, for any appraisal system to be
effective, it must be determined by performance standards which have to be
established according to individual job description.

In answering the question of how the current appraisal system is working in Nigeria,
it can be concluded from the research that there is not effective hence need for
improvement. Even though the system is functioning but its failure overrides its
success as mentioned in the issues and challenges. The challenges arose due to focus
on short term achievements rather than long-term goals of