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ANALYSING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF RE-IMPLEMENTING AN INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM DURING 2007 – 2010 IN HIGHER EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

Abstract

Higher Education institutions in South Africa are facing new challenges requiring high levels of individual performance. Institutions are attempting to implement performance management systems to ensure optimum individual performance. The history of performance management in Higher Education has not always been one of acceptance and immediate success. The purpose of the action research was to answer the question, ‘How effective was the re-implementation of a performance management system? There is very little research done on the implementation of performance management as an organisational change intervention. The theory of Kotter (1996) was therefore utilized as a framework to investigate the effectiveness of the re-implementation of the performance management system over a time span of 4 years. During the action research three action cycles were developed as a means to re-implement a performance management system and measure the effectiveness. The five specific objectives were to investigate the influence of the work environment to effectively re-implement PM and managing performance, to co-design a new performance management system, to ensure management buy –in to performance management, to ensure employee competence in performance management and to measure the effectiveness of the planning and re-implementation of the performance management system as a change intervention. Recommendations to management on the success and /or failure of the re-implementation of the performance management system as a change intervention were made. A purposive non-probability judgemental sample type was used throughout. The sample sizes for the different objectives over the time span 2007 – 2010 varied as follows: the sample for objective 1 is 1296 members of staff, the sample for objectives 2 is 23 members of staff, the sample for objective 3 is 77 members of staff, the sample for objective 4 was 976 members of staff and for objective 5 were 443 members of staff. A mixed- method data collection strategy was used with structured questionnaires and informal face-to-face interviews. The data collected from the questionnaires utilized in objectives 1, 4 and 5 were analysed with the help of frequency distribution. Data collected from the face-to face interviews for objectives 2, and 3, were analysed for trends in the feedback. The information gained from these cycles resulted in the following: Firstly, the re-design of the performance management documentation, secondly, a new implementation process based on the principles of change management and thirdly, the need for a diagnostic instrument that employees could use to analyze their work environment and provide feedback to management. The managerial implication of the research provides evidence and guidelines on how to utilize a change management process to overcome resistance to re implementing performance management. The research fulfils a gap in the literature on the re-implementation of performance management as a change initiative as well as the influence of the work environment in the HE context.

Key Words: Action Research, Individual Performance Management System, Staff Resistance, Change Management, Work Environment

For full paper: fmscresearch@sjp.ac.lk