Original Research

Employees' perceptions of the effectiveness and fairness of performance management in a South African public sector institution

Mpho Makhubela, Petrus A. Botha, Sonia Swanepoel
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 14, No 1 | a728 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v14i1.728 | © 2016 Mpho Makhubela, Petrus A. Botha, Sonia Swanepoel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2015 | Published: 16 November 2016

About the author(s)

Mpho Makhubela, Faculty of Commerce and Administration, North-West University, South Africa
Petrus A. Botha, Faculty of Commerce and Administration, North-West University, South Africa
Sonia Swanepoel, Faculty of Commerce and Administration, North-West University, South Africa


Orientation: The implementation of performance management systems (PMSs) and performance appraisals (PAs) by public managers remains a challenge and necessitates an investigation into employees’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the PMS and the fairness of PA.

Research purpose: This study investigated the association between employee involvement, performance-oriented culture, management commitment and the effectiveness of a PMS. Six factors that determine and influence employees’ perceptions of PA fairness were also investigated.

Motivation for the study: Employees’ experiences of the implementation and practice of PMSs and PAs by public managers may differ from what is intended. The motivation for this study was to quantify employee perceptions of the effectiveness of a PMS and the fairness of PA to establish if there is a discrepancy between what is intended and how they are implemented and practiced.

Research approach, design and method: This cross-sectional study conducted a census on a total population of 140 employees in a public sector institution. A questionnaire comprising three sections was used to collect data: Section A contained biographical questions, Section B comprised questions on the contextual factors that measure the perceived effectiveness of the PMS while Section C comprised questions related to the perceived fairness of PA.

Main findings: The results show that employees perceive their PMS to be ineffective and their PAs to be unfair. The mean perception scores for PA fairness for the Assets and Facilities Department were significantly lower than those of the Human Resources Department. This is indicative of some deficiencies in the appraisal process in the Assets and Facilities Department. Respondents occupying general positions returned significantly lower mean scores for PA fairness compared to those in managerial and professional positions, which indicates serious shortcomings in their appraisal process.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings reveal that employees were not involved in the development of the PMS. Also, the results indicated a lack of employee participation in the PA process, that PAs were not conducted for development purposes, performance feedback sessions were not undertaken on a regular basis and employees were not involved in goal setting. A training programme should address these organisational and managerial deficiencies.

Contribution: This research study contributes to the body of knowledge by quantifying the perceptions of employees regarding the organisational factors that influence the effectiveness of the PMS and the six factors, namely appraisers’ knowledge, employee participation, clear goal establishment, employee development, goal establishment, appraisal follow-up and goal discussion that influence PA fairness.


organisational factors; organisational justice; public management; public sector


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