Perceptions of managers on performance management within the trading services cluster of eThekwini Municipality.
The eThekwini Municipality is the largest municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, and has a constitutional obligation to provide an efficient service delivery to the public that it serves. Performance issues have always been a challenge in municipalities around the world, hence the introduction of a Performance Management System at eThekwini Municipality. This study investigated the perceptions of managers of the Performance Management System that was introduced in 2009. A key assumption of this study is that an effective Performance Management System can contribute towards improved service delivery. The aim of the research was to understand the views of management on the system, to identify the challenges that managers had experienced since the introduction of the system, and to determine the impact the system had on performance in the relevant departments. The qualitative research methodology chosen allowed for an interpretative approach that obtained an in-depth understanding of the perceptions of managers based on their experience using the system. The data were obtained using semi-structured interviews conducted with15 managers from the Trading Services Cluster of the eThekwini Municipality, who had used the system for five years. All interviews were transcribed and analysed using a thematic analysis method. Literature and studies from various sources provided the theoretical framework underpinning the subject. The research findings indicate that there is a negative perception towards how the system was implemented and the managers agreed that while such a system is beneficial to the organisation, there are challenges that need to be addressed. Some of the common themes that emerged were the lack of consistency in the evaluation process, the culture of the organisation in terms of staff attitude, the lack of training, and the complicated administration process of the system. The study proposed a change management strategy that encapsulated an integrated approach which took cognisance of the cluster’s organisational structure, culture, systems, policies and processes. A key recommendation is that the communication strategy should be proactive so that all stakeholders are knowledgeable and can competently engage in the process. Training and development should be a continuous process, where the principles and policies are reiterated and any material changes to content are communicated effectively. A reward system that clearly distinguishes mediocre performance from excellence must be investigated and suitable alternatives implemented. The study confirms the complexity of implementing a Performance Management System in the public sector and recognises the importance of an integrated approach to implementing such a system.
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