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Professional services staff perceptions of performance management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: a case study of the College of Humanities.

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In a contemporary society, globalisation-induced competition has given rise to significant improvements in human resource management styles to improve competitive advantage. This is not only in the private sector but in the public sector as well. Higher education institutions (HEIs) have caught on to this phenomenon and have adopted these management practices. This means that the same principles involved in managing the private sector, such as introducing performance management systems, are now applied in the public sector. The University of KwaZulu–Natal (UKZN) recognised that “managing and reviewing employee performance and fostering employee development are critical factors in achieving institutional strategic priorities and overall success.” In pursuit of its vision and mission, UKZN had embarked on a strategic plan to introduce a performance management system to the organisation in 2008. There is very limited knowledge on what the perceptions of professional services staff regarding performance management are. Furthermore, there is minimal empirical evidence relating to how professional services or support staff perceive performance management. The aim for this study is to investigate the effectiveness of performance management at the College of Humanities as a strategic tool for motivation. Since the appraisee or employee is meant to be the beneficiary of performance management, knowing how they perceive the process can result in the rehabilitation of strategic procedures in the organisation. The researcher used a survey research design and conducted a quantitative research analysis for this study. A pilot study and pretesting confirmed the reliability and validity of the questionnaire. Purposive sampling method was used to forward the online questionnaire to a sample of 166 professional services staff. The response rate was 106. The raw data was statistically analysed by descriptive and inferential tests. The results indicated positive responses for the research objectives. The research findings indicated that professional services staff are satisfied with the performance management process and its strategic purpose of improved performance objectives. It was recommended that additional training in the use of the system is required and for management to consider both monetary and non-monetary incentives.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.