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This paper examines the performance management philosophy of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), a high ranking public sector organization charged with the responsibility of regulating higher technical education in Nigeria. NBTE is pivotal to the growth and development of the country in several ramifications it regulates the institutions that develop manpower responsible for driving the real sector of the economy. Performance Management at the NBTE is a critical issue for a Nation that caters for the needs of about 150 million people. Economic performance is of key concern and an essential ingredient in keeping an economy running in top condition is the quality of the manpower. The ultimate implication of this is that to a large extent, the ability to meet national aspirations can be traced to the performance at the NBTE. NBTE is charged with a very huge mandate and its ability to deliver on its value proposition lies squarely on its performance management philosophy.
An assessment of Performance Management at the National Board for Technical Education
Performance management in Nigeria's public sector is a major challenge. For a country that is largely public sector driven. The public sector is the largest employer of labor and responsible for most positive macro-economic impacts. In recent years, the performance of most public sector organizations has dwindled significantly this is not unconnected to the narrow approach to a performance management (performance appraisal). National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) is one of the key institutions in the mix of institutions facing the challenge of poor performance. Andrews, Boyne & Endicott (2006) reported a similar challenge in the United Kingdom.
"In the UK Central governments now classify a range of public organizations on the basis of their performance. Poor performance have been named and shamed in service areas such as health, local government, education and criminal justice. The classification system assumes that failure is attributable to mismanagement or bad decisions and actions by service provider".
The National Board for Technical Education is an organization under the Federal Ministry of Education responsible for overseeing the affairs of technical and vocational education in Nigeria which is not offered by the universities. The board's mission and vision statement as captured by the Executive Secretary during an interview with him in the course of conducting this study.
N.B.T.E Vision Statement
"To uphold the ideals of a free, united and egalitarian society and promote good quality technical and vocational education; a system that is flexible and accessible to all for the purpose of producing competent and relevant technological manpower needed for sustainable national development".
N.B.T.E Mission Statement
"To promote the production of skilled/semi-skilled technical and professional manpower, to revitalize, and sustain the national economy, reduce unemployment and poverty through the setting and maintenance of high standards, provision of current and reliable information for planning and decision making, sourcing and disbursing of funds and adequate linkages with industry".
The Structure of the Board
The Board has a Governing Council and four statutory departments namely:
Personnel Management Department
Planning, Research & Statistics Department
Finance and Supplies Department
The management team is headed by an executive secretary who also serves as the chief executive officer.
N.B.T.E's Core Mandate
The core mandate of the NBTE, is to coordinate the activities of all technical and vocational institutions and bring up new ideas for national development
Colleges of Agric.
Colleges of health Tech.
Other Specialized Ins.
Sub-total (Mon technics)
Table 1. List of Institutions under NBTE supervision-
This paper explores the possibilities of enhancing the performance management culture of NBTE arguing that NBTE would do a lot better in achieving its mandate with a new orientation towards performance management, as against reliance on an annual performance appraisal system.
Performance Management is witnessing rapid transformation moving from a simple process perspective (appraisals) to a more strategic dimension in organizations today, entailing the collective analysis of goals and objectives. Buchner (2007) provides a very insightful theoretical background for performance management. His study, proposes a view of the concept from two perspectives the Individual and the institutional perspective.
Traditionally, the term performance management has been defined as "management's systematic application of processes aimed at optimizing human performance in an organization" (Warren as cited in Buchner, 2007).
This definition relies extensively on the process. Defined this way, performance management could be viewed as negative. Weiss and Hartle as cited in Buchner (2007) describes performance management as the establishment of a collective appreciation of what is to be achieved and the way and the manner in which those objectives are to be achieved, with a view to increasing the probability of achieving success. Performance management could also be turned around and defined through the eyes of the performer as against the top - down approach.
According to Rummler and Brache in cited Buchner (2007), a performance management system regards the human being to be at the center. The people will receive inputs and resources, perform specific schedules or tasks and produce outputs.
Rummler and Brache as cited in Buchner (2007) itemized specific issues that influence
performance posing key questions to management. The questions were in the following areas.
The specific nature of performance, the sufficiency of activities, expected results in line the
targets, the feed-back mechanism, the availability of technical skills and knowledge and the
capacity of the individual to deliver.
Based on the foregoing, a comprehensive performance management system requires first, the clarification of what matters in the organization; second, gathering the correct management information for understanding if output is consistent with the plans; and third to gain insights from the information, which in turn helps deliver better performance going forward. While in theory this is a simple and intuitive process, getting this right in organizations can be daunting challenge.
Kaplan and Norton (1992) developed the balanced scorecard, a formal method to incorporate both financial and nonfinancial performance measures into organizational management systems. They used the balanced scorecard to translate organizational visions and strategies into performance objectives and developed measures that can be monitored over time. The goal is to help managers more to understand strategies throughout the organization, using cause and effect to anticipate and prevent challenges, identify and take advantage of opportunities.
Eldenburg and Wolcott (2005) emphasized that the Balanced Scorecard is a tool for continuous, strategy analysis of the organization from multiple perspectives. The generic methodology is to use the four perspectives: financial, customer, internal business process, and learning and growth. Within each perspective, managers and other employees study the organization and identify linkages with other perspectives based on cause and effect. For example, training employees to be strategically ready would lead to an enlightened environment which will lead to suggestions that improve customer-related business processes, such as reducing the time between receipt of a customer order and product delivery. Increased customer satisfaction would lead to increased patronage which will impact positively on financial performance. Accordingly, managers identify the most important performance objectives - the aspects of operations that must be successful for the organization to achieve its vision. Measures are then developed for the performance objectives within each perspective to help managers and employees monitor and work toward long-term goals.
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The four perspective of the balanced scorecard adapted from Eldenburg and Wolcott
(2005) page 636.
The Performance Management Challenge at the NBTE
In order to get to the root of the matter, the audience of the Chief Executive officer of the NBTE was sought for his opinion on the specific issues relating the performance of the institution. The board has at its helm of affairs the office of the Executive Secretary/CEO. This comprises four departments at its base and other subunits. The duties of the Executive Secretary are to coordinate the activities of the board via the various units/departments. The functions are:
â€¢ Arranging and handling the administration of the governing board meetings (through the secretary of the governing board)
â€¢ Information gathering/dissemination using both electronic /print media as well as handling protocol duties of the board via the media relation unit.
â€¢ Internal audit matters towards ensuring compliance with financial regulations in line with Audit functions and practice.
â€¢ Coordination of the board's legal matters, drafting of all legal agreements including deeds of assignment, contract agreements interpretation of legal document for the board.
The following areas were explored with the CEO:
Performance management philosophy
Key performance measurement tools
On Performance management philosophy
Performance management of NBTE as an institution entails the CEO communicating objectives to various departmental heads. It is at the expense of heads to see and actualize such objectives, although, there is no follow-up on target goals, because individuals are upgraded whether they meet goals or not.
Performance management philosophy in NBTE is such that the purpose is based on shift to the next cadre of authority and not on merit. Personnel view this as an avenue to get promoted even if they did not deliver as par target required.
In as much as a staff has served a certain term, it becomes incumbent that he is appraised or evaluated."
On Performance measurement:
"Performance measurement is not tied to result orientation but to subjective option and tenure of service. There is no set goals to be achievable for which will demand measurement. Even if goals are set it is rarely communicated down to lower level managers. No direction as per expectations level managers. No direction as per expectations, as such no tone-at-the-top from the highest level."
On Frequency of use
"The frequency of use of performance management is minimal compared to its effectiveness in boosting productivity. The organization uses performance management once yearly which are basically meant for promotions or where there is a special purpose that may warrant such.
The morale of performance management in this organization has defied all objectives of performance management. There are no control tools in place to determine performance. As such (result/feedback) to effect necessary corrections does not arise."
On key performance measurement tools
"The organization is ready and willing to accept a performance management strategy to rank departments and personnel to reflect output as set objectives.
The performance tool in place is the Annual Performance Evaluation review form which entails heads of department vouching for an individual. Such is tantamount to forgetfulness and bias. This tool has its set-back in the area of the duration of reviewing performance. Performance management results from the necessity to uplift and not from the target achieved."
Control is central to the way the NBTE operates. Results control would have been most appropriate. This is a preventive type of control effective in achieving motivational problems. It influences actions, creates meritocracies encourage employees to discover and develop their talents and get placed in jobs in which they will be able to perform well.
The meritocracy in this allows reward to be given to the most talented and hardworking rather than those with the longest tenure and social connection.
This control mechanism is consistent with the implementation of decentralized forms of organization. It can be emphasized down to the lower cadre of authority.
Results control incorporates without upper level supervision by inducing employees to behave so as to maximize their chance of producing the desired objective. This motivational outcome occurs as a result of the objective of the organization not those that will maximize the employee's rewards. The performance measure if well-defined informs employees of what is expected and encourage them to do what they can do, thus eliminating the lack of direction problem of management which the Chief Executive Officer emphasized.
It can ameliorate the personal limitation problem by encouraging employees to address their limitations and to develop their talents so as to position themselves to earn the stated rewards.
The measures that are part of these controls are non-motivational, detection type tool of a loop nature which allows for feedback and evaluation of results with targets set.
For the above control tool to be effective certain criteria are established, the presence of all of the under mentioned will lead to the effectiveness of this measure:-
Managers must know the required result and communicate such to employees. Ability to influence/control this result. This is important because measurement are useful only to the limit they prove information about the desired action. The ability to measure controllable results effectively taking precision, objectivity, timeliness (lag between performance and measurement), and understandability (from the aspect of employees and action to be done to achieve the objective.
Leadership Practice and Performance
The interactive session with the CEO, clearly reveals one critical point. That the management of performance not a well understood phenomenon. What is still predominant in practice is the use of annual appraisal forms.
The format in use at the NBTE is referred to as APER an acronym which stands for Annual Performance Evaluation Review.
Clearly this has significant disadvantages considering its high level of subjectivity. Rosthein as cited in Miller, & Thornton, (2006) on performance appraisals observed that
"Upper level managers were very poor at appraising mangers who work for them unless they had known them for at least one year".
This finding further buttress the assertion that the N.B.T.E needs to embrace performance management in its complete ramification. Personnel are constantly moved around or transferred from one department to the other and in many cases do not spend enough time before the appraisal period. Abu-Doleh & Weir (2007) further confirm this in their study by observing as follows.
"although performance appraisals are an organizational fact of life, in all their existence, appraisals, appraising and appraisal systems are still not fully understood and appreciated moreover, employees still express resentment and unhappy feelings towards them. Organizations today are paying more attention to employee performance and productivity as never before in a bid to not only remain competitive but to survive. Yet as important as this human resource function has become, performance appraisals are still facing systems failure". (p.75)
Challenges to Management Control
Ethical shift constitute a major problem to control. The human factor represents the biggest impediment. Lack of corporation and free flow of information creates difficulty in obtaining the right information. Thus performance management efficiency can only be obtained by a change in ethical thinking. Instituting this change will be difficult unless there is a tone at the top, adequate communication and acceptance of the system by the lower cadre.
The design of various measures by different authors is creating chaos for the measurement efforts. This is due to the inability to merge with various measuring styles found in the organization.
Integrating the executive and the lower cadre is important. Top executive should motivate to see that efforts are geared towards the goals, communicate such by circulating information at the appropriate time and media and also lay down the targets, so as to achieve the value and ethical shift. Otherwise efforts of performance management will be to no avail as results are only be achieve to a certain areas and not in the whole system.
Using information effectively ensures management success. Organizations that are advance in information technology have been able to merge data integration and dissemination thereby supporting their goals with a suitable strategy. Thus the more advance an organization is in information technology the better will it be in its performance management initiative.
Performance Management and other Learning Systems
Performance in a public sector system is subject to different interpretations. The main challenge in creating a performance learning system for a public sector organization is how to make the employees unlearn old habits for which they have been rewarded for many years. A performance learning system, required would entail educating the entire staff about what N.B.T.E really stands for and getting them to act in new ways that will forge the organization towards delivering world-class. Performance management is gone beyond human resource department. It is not restricted to a definite section of an organization: it is spread across the organization.
"Every department is involved in the implementation of performance management ranging from finance, marketing, IT, sales operations and finance to mention a few."( p 5).
The operations department is seen to have a need for this more than any other department followed by the Account and Finance and the Human Resource Department..
Based on systems thinking, performance management cannot be effectively over emphasized without all putting hands on deck to ensure the correct measurement and control happens. These concepts will ensure the integration of planning, review of financial management and improvement in the atomic system to enable managers to make well-articulated decisions.
Business intelligence software has made analysis of capability of a greater number of employees giving room for measurement and report of activities.
"As executives look to create operational efficiencies, they will seek methods to understand the value that departmental activities add to the organization. Instead of implementing blanket-cost cutting initiatives, they will make decisions using information that helps determine where best to make the cuts. The spread of performance management throughout the organization is a reflection of this pragmatic approach to running an organization." (p 3).
Currently the deployment of performance controls in different departments are the most prominent strategy used to achieve effectiveness and efficiency.
The Learning System`
The journey so far in management control is that senior managers will have to imbibe specific skills to see the big picture and deal with relationships. Proactive career management will be a vital form of management development. Survey of the performance management cycles can be seen to have three angles:
Reporting to enhance Accountability.
Management and control to ensure that there is no diversion from initial plan.
This contains various part which if achieved leads to the next angle.
Cultural and Ethical Considerations
After 33 years in operation N.B.T.E would have become set-in certain ways. Expanding its performance management scope will require cultural and ethical considerations.
Shieh and Wang (2008) suggest that organizational culture is the collective beliefs and values shared by all members of the organization. Whallach as cited in Shieh & Wang (2008) emphasized that "organizational culture can be classified into three types, namely bureaucratic culture, innovative culture, and supportive culture".
Organizational culture derives from three sources: a) the values and assumptions of founding members of the organization; b) the learning experiences of members of the organization; and c) the new values and assumptions brought into the organization by new members (Scheinin, Shieh & Wang 2008). Generally speaking, organizational culture can help instruct the employees, socialize new members and improve organizational performance. Some studies have shown that organizational culture can influence areas throughout an organization. For example, it may impact on the union of employees, productivity and welfare or even innovation.
(Harel & Tzafririn as cited in Shieh and Wang 2008). We chose to focus on two dimensions of organizational culture identified by Wolfe as cited in Shieh and Wang (2008) as valuable for further discussion: organizational values and organizational identification.
Culture is the total way of a group and these determined acceptability of certain actions. This influences on the:
â€¢ The goal setting of an organization.
â€¢ The personnel management.
â€¢ Group demand for improvement
â€¢ Use of performance management report.
The PMMI project identified two types of organizational culture:
â€¢ A culture of performance - the zeal to enhance and give the most to people
â€¢ A performance management culture -concentration on managing performance is the priority with the focus on systems of feedback of actions for corrective measures.
Customer focus because they are the end users of the information and citizens can-do attitude, that is people who feel empowered and supported to innovate and take responsibility without fear of blame .
Flexibility in Changing Times
Managers benefiting from organizational trainings has triple in the recent time. There is a deliberate policy put in place to achieve this. More attention in personal forms of developing middle line managers given a number of important roles has been given more emphasis. High level leadership programme designed for key decision makers is core to the success of performance management ideology, such issues will be strategic in nature. Corporate leaders need to entrench culture of performance measurement and evaluation down the ladder. The measures must be collectively accepted by all. There must be mutual collaboration between leaders and employees in order to achieve the above. Clear delegation of duties and proper definition of schedules, segregation of authority and accountability will help employees understand and embrace the structure of their jobs. Organizational effective management of performance on periodic basis would leave a particular standard to be followed from time to time. To discover the various performance tools, an organization ought to develop certain culture in a template that serve as a focal point to every employees. Depending on inadequate capabilities for performance management usually result in difficulty to identify what gave rise to performance management, market share and maintain profitability.
The decision to form human capital is geared towards management and developing of leadership competence. The work on human resource provides clear evidence of the importance of people management in organizational performance because managers and leaders are those who always deliver human resource management through their ability to lead and motivate staff. Putting NBTE through the Learning Journey
What NBTE must do
Using resources with unique strategies to achieve its organization operational needs
Working within the limits and prospect of the organization's budget
Following the trend of business and market changes through effective adaptation
Perfect strategic information technology system
Connectivity between customers and products
Harmonizing product to achieve profitability.
This ensure that performance management is carried out in all ramifications viz:
Identify profound project that channel its real values and maximized its potential.
Using professional expertise to achieve and attain organization's objectives.
Using accounting software to perfect organization concept
Creating awareness in performance management and identify how such awareness increase the success of the goals.
Purchases in examining expenditures and reliability of suppliers to enable a sound decisions of best supplier.
Finally looking at performance management, the best type of control is the results control which addresses the key
"control problems of lack of direction, motivational problems and personal limitations. As such the control will possess the criteria necessary for its effective implementation".
Management control should also constitute the following characteristic of being a good control that is no unpleasant conditions will occur given all necessary procedures in place. In a nutshell optimal control is expected to be achieved since control losses are to be smaller than if more controls are to be implemented.
A sound achievement in performance management is only attainable by organizations who are mature in IT usage. The organization inculcate important department that will always work along the performance target using strategy criteria in attaining their goal. Performance management is thus possible only with human resource, technical skills and identified goals which lead to improvement.
Maintaining quality assurance for one institution alone is a daunting challenge. Imagine regulation over one hundred each with over 20 faculties.
The National Board for Technical Education N.B.T.E must be interested in performance management as its own driving philosophy, for two primary reasons.
Firstly, N.B.T.E is basically interested in the performance of the institutions it accredits and supervises. Secondly, N.B.T.E must perform internally to be able to drive performance in over one hundred and fifty institutions in a huge country like Nigeria.
In embracing a full scale performance management culture, N.B.T.E will be effectively undergoing a reform. It will be a more focused institution with clearly defined and clearly communicated corporate mission. The employees will wake-up to their responsibilities, because they are aware of their targets and the role they play in the overall success of not only the N.B.T.E, both the institutions they supervise.