OPRAS- Open Performance Review Appraisal System.
URT- United Republic of Tanzania
Effective performance management in the public
service requires specific tools and deliberate measures (Bana, 2010).Performance
appraisal system is one of the tools of performance management that seem to
best ensure effectiveness by connecting and aligning individual, team and
organizations objectives and results (Armstrong, 2003). Performance appraisal
system gives a thorough consideration of the components and various aspects of
performance with the attention given to how each component plays part to the
desired performance outcome in the organizational, departmental, team and
individual level (Chen et al, 2009).
recognizing the need to ensure that performance in the public service
institutions and therefore, the introduction of OPRAS is a key part of the
Government’s commitment to improve performance and service delivery to the
public. (Muhataba 2011).It has been 14 years since performance appraisal known
as OPRAS was implemented in public sector in Tanzania, it is the most popular
and well-known tool compared to other tools of performance management. The
issue is that performance appraisal system was aimed to bring efficiency and
effectiveness of employee’s performance in which it would lead to improved
services. For this to be possible performance appraisal needs to be instituted
so as to make it possible to have the expected effects (Bana &Shitindi
2009). This tool is critical to the adaptation and instituting performance
culture in the Tanzanian public sector, (Angela 2010). It requires the public
servants and their supervisors to develop their personal objectives based on
the strategic planning process and on organizational targets regarding service
delivery. To develop the individual performance plan both the supervisor and
subordinate are required to agree on “performance objectives, performance
targets, performance criteria and required resources in order to achieve the
set targets and objectives” (Bana &Shitindi 2009:13).
appraisal system intentions in the Tanzanian public sector have been
meritorious, it still does not seem to reach the expectations (URT, 2010). This
situation is explained by the fact that PAS has faced obstacles and challenges,
which hinders it to be effectively institutionalized in the public sector
(Cutler &Waine, 2005).
Therefore this paper
attempts to show in details performance management in Tanzania using Open
Performance appraisal system, what weaknessesthe
1.1. Objective of the paper
The paper aims to show weaknesses
ofperformance management tool (open performance review and appraisal system) in
OF KEY TERMS.
Performance is referred to as being about doing the
work, as well as being about the results achieved (Otley, 1999). The Oxford
English Dictionary (2007) defines performance as the accomplishment, execution,
carrying out, and working out of anything ordered or undertaken. This refers to
outputs/outcomes (accomplishment) but also states that performance is about
doing the work as well as about the results achieved. Performance could
therefore be regarded as, a multidimensional construct, the measurement of which
varies, depending on a variety of factors that comprise it (Fitzgerald and
Performance appraisal is the process of identifying,
evaluating and developing the work performance of employees in the organization,
so that the organization goals and objectives are more effectively achieved at
the same time benefiting employee’s term recognition, receiving feedback,
catering for work needs and offering career guidance (Lansbury, 1988).
A process of assessing employees’ performance. It is
an opportunity to take overall view of work content (loads and volume), and to
look back at what has been achieved during the reporting period; and agreed
objectives for the next planning period.( OPRAS 2011).
Generally, Performance appraisal is a systematic and
orderly way of determining worth of a job performance of an employee in
relation to expected standards. That means determining work of the job
Performance management is a process owned and driven
by line management that aims at getting
better results from the organisation, teams, and
individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed
framework of planned goals, standards and competence requirements (Armstrong
is the total process of observing an employee’s performance in relation to job
requirements over a period of time; clarifying expectations; setting goals;
providing on the job coaching ; filling and retrieving information about
performance and then an appraisal on the basis of this information( Casio
Generally Performance Management
can be defined as the process of motivating employees through setting goals,
measuring progress, giving feedback, coaching for improved performance and
An authoritative framework for managing employee
performance, which includes the policy framework as well as the framework
relating to all elements in performance cycle , including performance planning
and agreement; performance monitoring, review and control; performance appraisals and moderating ; and
managing the outcomes of appraisal (Bacal 1999).
MANAGEMENT IN TANZANIA.
The Public Service
Reform Programme (PSRP) which is being implemented in a series of overlapping
but mutually supporting phases aims at the improvement of public service
delivery through improved performance management of public services. The first
phase spanning the year 2000 to June 2007 adapted the theme of “Instituting
Performance Management Systems”. This was specifically aimed at building an
integrated system for creating a shared vision, understanding and agreement
about the results to be achieved, and the operational framework for continuous
performance improvement in standards and quality of public service delivery in
Tanzania. (PO-PSM). In the course of implementing Performance Management
System, The Tanzania Government introduced the use of Open Performance Review
and Appraisal System (OPRAS) in July 2004, through Establishment Circular No.2
of 2004 to replace Closed Annual Confidential Report system. The Open
Performance Review and Appraisal System (OPRAS) has been introduced in all
MDAs, Regional Secretariats and LGAs to enable proper and more effective use of
The Open Performance Review and Appraisal System
(OPRAS) is an open, formal, and systematic procedure designed to assist both
employers and employees in planning, managing, evaluating and realizing
performance improvement in the organization with the aim of achieving
organizational goals. (PSM, 2011).
OPRAS has the following
unique features that can be differentiated from the previous confidential
allows both employee and employer to discuss and agree on the organisational
and individual objectives that are to be achieved during the year openly.
involves employees in the process of setting objectives, performance targets
and criteria as well as determining, assessing and recording performance.
individual employees are required to sign annual performance agreements and
account for their performance against agreed targets and resources allocated
for each activity.
shows linkage between individual objectives and the overall organizational objectives
in a given period. This helps the employee understand own role and contribution
thus creating commitment in achieving organizational goals.
THE OPRAS PROCESS
ADVANTAGES OF USING OPRAS according to OPRAS guidelines
This system has the following benefits to the
employee and employer:-
motivated to perform effectively and continuously to improve performance.
empowered through resources provided to implement planned and agreed
informed of skill gaps and measures for improvement.
guided and focused in the execution of duties and responsibilities;
working relations with both higher and lower levels;
the employees to know what is expected of them.
provided with opportunities to re-enforce the organizational objectives;
given feedback on the effectiveness or weaknesses of workplace systems,
processes and procedures;
on how to make merit based decisions on rewards and sanctions.
on staff developmental needs and human resources planning.
working relations in an organization.
to confirm and promote an employee whenever necessary.
OPRAS in Tanzania is
not sufficient because it faces a number of challengesthe following are WEEKNESSES OF OPRASin Tanzania.
of Employee guidance.
Gupta (2008) an effective appraisal system should
involve both the employer and employee through an appraisal review with the
supervisor. During this interview past performance should be discussed frankly
and future goals established. A strategy for accomplishing these goals as well
as for improving future performance should evolved jointly by the supervisor
and the employee. For the case of Tanzania in LGAs public servants such
teachers, nurses do fill OPRAS forms by themselves without discussing together
with their supervisors. Guideline on OPRAS requires continuous monitoring of
progress by both the individual and the supervisor after the agreement of
objectives where by it needs coaching, mentoring as well as counseling will
take place during the process but it’s not so in public institutions. When
effective employees guidance is missing it leads to feeble participation,
ownership, opportunity to appeal as well as it means poor setting of clear
objectives in the working station. The public servants feel that filling up the
OPRAS guideline forms is just to accomplish the order from somewhere and not as
the part of improving and maximizing the performances within their institutions.
Hogg (1998) states that, “unless managers have the
necessary skills to operate it, performance appraisal will become at best
passive and of little value at worst; it can be a field disliked and feared by
managers and subordinates alike”. It is
essential that the appraisers to be competent with the techniques of appraisal
system to bring about the desired results. The head of departments who are
appraisers in Local governments do not possess skills and enough knowledge to
communicate that knowledge to employees onregarding why they have to fill in
their OPRAS forms, hence they don’t have
the morale to facilitate the process. It has become a usually thing for
employees in the public sector to fill the forms by themselves without any
follow up from the appraisers, hence the rating is judged based on seniority,
biases, result basedand this is a big
challenge because it makes the whole process mislead. Also their few OPRAS
trainings conducted in Tanzania which include all employees and employers only
few are taken for trainings and this is not fair because those who have never
attended for OPRAS trainings still they won’t be aware of how the process does.
Feedback can be a useful tool for development,
especially if it is specific and behavioral oriented, as well as both
problem-oriented and solution oriented (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995).Open
Performance Review Appraisal System is intended to evaluate performance and to
provide feedback to the employee. In practice however, OPRAS appeared not to be
used for providing feedback. In most cases in local government authorities
there are no feedbacks done which will consist both employer and employee,
after feeling the forms the work ends there, no follow ups nor feedback will be
made only a tendency of feeling forms that’s all.Fletcher (2001) recommended
that for performance appraisal to be productive and beneficial there requires
to be something from it for supervisor and supervisee. For employees it is
recognition, rewards, developmental measures and sometimes sanctions. While for
supervisor is recognition and achievement of the division objective. Feedback
in OPRAS is not used especially in promotions, selection of best performers,
and capacity building such as training has been done without reference to the
information available from OPRAS feedback if the employees has weaknesses or
not. Also the best performer in the public sectors are chosen according to the
majority vote of employees and not for the feedback obtains from OPRAS apart
from that there are no rewards obtained from OPRAS hence this makes OPRAS not
sufficient means because it has to provide feedback either by rewarding,
promotions, but it does not.
Tangent (2004) noted the nature of most of public
sector institution in Tanzania doesn’t allow the effective participation of
both employers and employees and other stake holders in equal basis in
planning, designing, bargaining of what to be done and to what extent. Itika(2011)
insist, there is no strong evidence to suggest that the existing relationships
between the employees and employers during open performance appraisal would
allow room for the level of fair bargaining presupposed in the model.The boundaries
that exist between management or superior officers and the lower cadres or
their subordinates in Tanzania public sectors makes a distance relation between
the employer and employee. Moreover poor communication between the appraisers
and the appraised has caused the gap in the PAS process because most appraisers
do not communicate the performance standards to their subordinate, which is the
core stage in the appraisal process. Filling OPRAS forms requires both
appraiser and appraise to be together and set their performance standards but
in LGAs it is not done so hence leading appraises (public servants) to set
unrealistic objectives. Without the performance standards most public servant
fail to have knowledge of what is expected of them hence repeating performing
on previous or outdated standards. This makes unfair agreement between
supervisor and subordinate leading the whole process invalid and that makes the
system not be sufficient.
of commitment of public servants.
Commitment is a state of one being dedicated or
obligated to something with strict action. The assumption is that organization
with committed managers leads to successful adaptation of performance
improvement compared to organization with partially committed managers. Reward
and motivation system is believed to be one of the ways of grooming workers
(managers and subordinates) into achieving organization strategic goals (Gupta
2006). If the supervisors are well rewarded and motivated the implementation of
programmmes, policies becomes easier because they will do the work effectively.
Performance appraisal system requires managers to be mentors to their
subordinates, to assess their daily performance and give feedback depending on
their performance for a manager to do all this they have to be committed and
willing to take initiatives and putting effort to make this work.Performance
management in Tanzania LGAs have no committed managers because they do not take
performance management seriously such as to assess the daily performance and provide
feedback by either rewarding or punishing. This is due to low motivation
provided by the government to its servants hence the implementation of OPRAS
remains a paper work that makes the system insufficient.
Budgetary constraints and poor prioritization is
another factor which makes OPRAS to underperform in Tanzania the state of
available resources in implementation OPRAS in Tanzania was less convincing to
be sufficient as Neely, A. (1995) noted.The performance appraisal system
requires funds that will support its initial stages as well as the continuation
of the reform. For instance it requires funds to administer training to the
implementer and appraisers; it also requires funds for an organization to have
a reliable motivation and reward system. For the case of the local authorities
finances are from own source and mostly from the central government. These
reward and motivation and training expenses and salaries are to come from the
authorities own source. This being the case in most local authorities it is
possible that the performance appraisal system is encountering this problem due
to the fact that the money would rather be used for other important matters
such as salaries rather than rewards and trainings. Also theresources needed such
as health facilities for the case of heath ministries to support the servants
and organization objectives are not sufficient hence hinder employees to
achieve the expected result and this makes the whole appraisal process invalid
because if there are no facilities the job won’t be performed well, then how
can you measure something that was not performed hence the system is not good
This generally reduces
the effectiveness of OPRAS in the sense that they make public sector employees
not in a position to know what exactly their efforts are directed. This brings
a lot of confusions on what and when to be archived and to what level. This
poses a number of challenges in the institutionalization of the performance
appraisal system (Gibson, 2004).They make public servant/employees not exactly
to know where their effort should direct. (Sylvester 2010). When the employee
or employer claims that certain objectives in theappraisal process were agreed
upon, what does it really mean? Is it an agreement on the objectives of the job
that they were formerly employed for, the current job, the one written on the
job description list, the one the boss ‘knows’, the one expected by the
employee, the employer or both? It makes sense that the ‘expected’ job
objectives of both the employer and the employee should override the rest,
although the concept ‘expectation’ suggests that the joint agreement is a
controversial issue and a grey area that may undermine the good intentions of the
appraisal model if not handled carefully (Itika).OPRAS in Tanzania each
individual fills the objectives on their own, what objectives do they fill are
those in the job description or the present expectation goals, apart from that
frequently interruptions of politicians with their own goals hence confusion to
the public servants.If each public servant fill the objectives of his/her own,
then what are the supervisors measuring is it the present expected goals and
this shows how OPRAS process not sufficient.
An effective open
performance appraisal needs clear and well set standards according to
institution objectives at one hand and the code of conduct on the other (Mwanaamani
2013The OPRAS forms are uniform, form filled by a nurse and a teacher are the
same while they are different personnel having different jobs, the question is what performance indicators, measurers will
bring the same result of measuring their performance, showing their performance
standards while they are of different ministries having different objectives
and goals.Assumption that the job done by different public servants either a
teacher, Human resource officer, a nurse or driver that the OPRAS criteria form
can measure is wrong because it is very difficult measure and evaluate their
performance because each one has specific work with specific demand and responsibility
some require more time to evaluate the performance, hence occurrence of hallo
effect error. Hallo error occurs when a manager generalizes one positive
performance feature or incident to all aspects of employee performance
resulting in a higher rating (Mondy and Noe, 2005).
OPRA’S Implementation tool does not provide room for
other activities not covered in the work plan.Governments have limited time in
power, depending on the election cycle. The political process means that the
government, and therefore the policies may change on a regular basis so that an
individual policy may not be in place for long enough for it to begin to have any
real impact (Itika). Occurrence of unplanned national and international
activities which makes misallocation of funds to those plans and hinders the
achievement of the planned targets and goals of the organization.The question
here is how to link between the objectives set on OPRAS form and the unforeseen
events such as misallocation of budget, transfer personnel.
in measuring effectiveness.
The public sector deals with a great many social,
human and economic issues, which can be very hard to measure (Itika 2011). This
is just as problematic as for things such as healthcare and education
expenditure where it is almost impossible to determine the effectiveness of
different options for service provision, as there are so many non-controllable costs.Apart
from that how can the measurement be effective while it is only done twice a
year waiting for the results or outcomes of the objectives or goals, you cannot
measure someone performance based only on the results, performance appraisal is
a continuous process it should be done by tracking daily to daily resultsand
behaviors that will show the competencies, how work is done and what is
achieved at the end of the day by the employee (public servants). Hence this
makes the OPRAS system insufficient because their no daily to daily coaching,
where one has to be trained it’s not applied.
Christensen et al (2007) argue that employees and
majority of employers were not included in structuring Open Performance Review
and Appraisal System so neither employee no employer is aware how to implement
the system. This implies that the system may be implemented differently.
Appraisal system in Tanzania neither manager (Human resource Officers, Heads of
department) nor the individual (other public servants) has any sense of
ownership. They were not involved in the design or administration of the system
hence the adaptation of the system becomes very hard and none of them cares.
The OPRAS system is being implemented to the people who care less about the
system hence this make OPRAS insufficient.