A study of performance management at UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies.
Mkhize, Bright Sipho.
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Background: Performance management is about the whole process of monitoring and evaluating the performance of employees. Armstrong & Baron (1998, cited in Kiragu et al., 2006) it is also about giving appropriate feedback, whether positive or negative, to individual employees, with the intention of improving their performance. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal, individual employees create performance agreements which are their key performance areas that are linked to their job descriptions, and also to the goals of the University. The Line Managers and employees both need to agree on these, because it then requires the employee to be working towards achieving these in a particular performance cycle. During the performance cycle, it is required that the Line Manager monitors the performance of the employee and, if there are things to be improved upon, then the employee should be informed of such. Employees need to be encouraged to do better throughout the cycle. Aim: The aim of this study was to describe the perception of the academic staff of the performance management system in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at a selected University in KZN. Methodology: The researcher used qualitative research for this study. The reason for choosing this research method was because the researcher wanted to describe the academic staff perception of the performance management system at a selected University in KZN. The researcher collected evidence on performance management and the impact this had especially in the higher education sector. This was done through structured interviews, the use of available university information (performance management system information available to the human resources department) and observations. Findings: The results from this study indicated that the performance management system was perceived as a system to capture the monitoring of staff performance, check employees’ quality, assess research output, and employees’ evaluation. Although performance management was positively perceived by academic staff, several challenges were reported to hinder effective implementation of performance management, and they included insufficient knowledge and skill on performance management, lack of on-the-job training or workshops, challenges in rating the staff in performance management, ineffective use of the institution guidelines on performance management. Conclusion and recommendations: The impact of effective performance management on the institutional success is pivotal. It is essential that institutions ensure that academic staff is well trained and prepared to meet the demands brought by new innovative approaches.