PERCEPTION OF PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL AS A TOOL FOR ENHANCED PRODUCTIVITY AND CAREER ADVANCEMENT IN THREE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN OGUN STATE

, NIGERIA

ONUOHA, U. D BABCOCK UNIVERSITY, ILISHAN REMO- OGUN STATE

ABSTRACT
The purpose of this research work was to identify the perception of library staff on the effect of performance appraisal on productivity and career growth in order to enhance the provision of information services through effective performance appraisals. Descriptive analytic approach was adopted for the study. The study population was made up of 92 library employees selected from Babcock University, Ilishan – Remo; Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago - Iwoye; and University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. 92 questionnaires were distributed to all the Professional Librarians, Para professionals and graduates in other fields. 78.2% (85) of the questionnaires distributed were retrieved. Four research questions were tested and the results were analyzed using the percentage method. The results revealed that 32 (27.2%) saw performance appraisal as a routine exercise, 25 (21.25%) saw it as a tool for improving performance, 16 (13.6%) perceived it as a tool for staff compensation while only 5(4.25%) saw it as a tool for favouring a few people on the job. Majority of the respondents felt that performance appraisal has positive influence on job performance and enhances career growth. The study concluded by arguing that performance appraisal can only be meaningful if employees’ job descriptions are reviewed to include job performance. The paper finally recommends that Libraries should carry out internal appraisals apart from the appraisal conducted by the personnel department for the sole purpose of correcting deviations and recommendations for improvement must accompany every identified area of weakness.

INTRODUCTION
Libraries exist with the sole aim of organizing human and material resources to produce knowledge and services that support man in his attempt to control the universe (Ologbonsaiye, 1993). While information resources are valuable to the existence of any library, their selection, acquisition, processing and organization will however remain a human function, which can only be carried out by the library staff. Library staff provides access to the information held in a libraries’ collection. The term “performance appraisal” applies to judgment on individual job performance. Individual job performance on the other hand is a multidimensional idea consisting of many facets; which range from an employee’s output (job result) to employee mode of accomplishing his or her task (job behaviour), and the employee’s attitude towards his or her job (personal traits) (Wallace & Szilagyi,1982). While the concept of performance appraisal is not new, the study of employee perception of the concept is still going on. Mullins (1996) defines perception as “the mental

function of giving significance to stimuli”. The process of perception explains the manner in which information from the environment is selected and organised to provide meaning for an individual. People see things in different ways bringing about different reactions to the same issue. The way the library staff perceives performance appraisal affects the importance that is attached to it. Olabisi Onabanjo University library can best be described as a “complex of libraries”. It is made up of the main library at the mini campus and four branch libraries which include the law library, faculty of Arts, Social Sciences and Management Sciences libraries all at the main campus. There is a Medical library situated at Sagamu and the Sopolu library at

Ikenne Remo. College of Agriculture library, College of Engineering and Technology library at Ibogon, are also part of Olabisi Onabanjo Library. The total collection of the central library is about 40,000 volumes of books, and journals. Combined with the other branches; the library is said to posses an estimated 75,000 volumes of textbooks and 2,000 journal titles. The library has total staff strength of 147 which includes 25 professional librarians, 13 Para - professional librarians and 10 graduates in other professions who are regarded as library assistants. Babcock University Library is made up of four service points, known as the Main library, Education and Humanities library, Management and Social Sciences library and Science and Technology library. As at the time of this study Babcock University library has over 42,692 volumes of books and 450 periodical titles. The library has a staff strength of 44, which includes 5 professional librarians, 2 Para-professional librarians and 3 graduates in other fields who are considered as administrative staff. University of Agriculture, Abeokuta’s library, has a collection of about 16, 000 volumes of books and 95 periodical titles. The make up of the library staff is unique. It is made up of 9 professional librarians and 25 Para professional librarians. The library has a staff strength of 34. Statement of problem Organizations stretch scarce resources in preparing and executing performance appraisals, which will form the basis of most management decisions in matters of salary reviews and promotions. Considering the budget and importance of appraisals in management decisions, one wonders why performance appraisal does not always lead to increase in performance and productivity.

Except administrators understand the subordinates view of the appraisal system, libraries and indeed their parent institutions, would from year to year spend time and money in carrying out performance appraisals that would end up at very minimal contribution to the growth of the library and indeed the parent institution.

Performance appraisal in University libraries University libraries are libraries in higher institutions of learning. They aid the host institutions where they are situated to achieve their objectives (Odiase, Unegbu & Haliso, 2001). The University Librarian is responsible for the leadership of a University library he or she is responsible for all the staff in the library. Performance management in the library begins with the University Librarian linking the goals of the library to the strategic goals of the parent institution. Professional librarians working in University libraries are classified as academic staff in the University system, which means that the mode of performance appraisal for librarians is based mainly on community service and number of publications rather than office performance, however librarians in carrying out their professional duties either as chief catalogers, reference librarians or head of technical services, find themselves in positions where they are responsible for the allocation, supervision and evaluation of the work performance of others. Performance appraisal in academic libraries is therefore a means of control through which library administrators monitor the job performance of subordinates by observing variances between set goals and actual performance and taking corrective actions. This view is shared by (Schachter, 2004; Kleiner 2005).

After surveying library literature it is apparent that most academic library administrations implement some type of performance appraisal. Sometimes disparity may exist regarding the process itself and the goals sought (Edwards & Williams, 1998). University libraries perform staff evaluation in line with the rules and procedures mapped out by their parent institutions (Arnold, 2005). In most cases, it has been observed that performance appraisal in libraries are conducted following the guidelines set forth by the human resource department for the host institution. Experience has however shown that centrally devised appraisal instruments designed by human resource department fail to address differences in activities from one department to the other. The work performed at the Bursary department is certainly different from the work performed in the library. Even within the library, the work performed by readers’ services is different from the work performed by Technical services. While the readers’ services is service oriented and difficult to measure, technical services has more quantifiable measures as the number of books catalogued in a day can be easily ascertained. Despite the disparity in the various departments within the library, Belcastro (1998) argues that the evaluation of performance, whether for customer service or any other unit, must be based on behaviors that are measurable. In order to make the work at readers’ services measurable, Kleiner (2005), addressed seven categories to be considered as:
approachability, patron interaction, question negotiation, consultations and referrals,

familiarity with reference resources, staff interaction and individual attitudes. Irrespective of what is being measured, evaluation can only be valid if it measures performance-related behaviours and productivity, and reliable if it provides a consistent view of work performance (Slough, 2003).

The study on performance appraisal in libraries is not new, for instance Evans (2005) carried a study on Librarians Perception of Performance Appraisal using 407 librarians. Out of those interviewed 90.6% agreed that performance appraisal is necessary for good supervision, 9.4% disagreed. When asked if they feel comfortable in conducting performance appraisal in libraries, 16.7% said yes while 83.3% said no. When asked “Do you think that the process has positive influence on the employee performance?” 87.0% said no. Hansen (1995) also conducted an in-depth study of staff appraisal schemes in three British University libraries in 1993, the result of the study revealed that the library using its own appraisal scheme devoted more time and attention to it against those who applied general appraisal schemes. It also revealed that when recommended follow-up actions such as enabling attendance at training courses was followed up, staff showed more interest in appraisals. George (1995) in her study “Performance appraisal in an Academic library discovered that Librarians dislike the appraisal system because they are not involved in developing the appraisal instrument. Despite the use of performance appraisal in libraries, arguments abound on the use of appraisals. Opponents of performance appraisal such as Deming as cited by Labig &Chye (1996) is of the view that performance appraisals nourishes short term performance, builds fear, demolishes team work and nourishes rivalry and politics. Supporters of performance appraisal such as Casio (1996) and Wilson (2001) are however of the opinion that Performance appraisal is the logical means to appraise, develop, and effectively utilize employee’s knowledge and capabilities.

Research methodology
Descriptive survey approach was adopted. In selecting the population for this study, Professional Librarians, Para professional Librarians and graduates in other fields were considered. The population is therefore made up of the 34 library staff from the University of Agriculture Abeokuta, 10 library staff from Babcock University library and 48 library staff of Olabisi Onabanjo library, making the total population 92. The sampling is enumerative as all members of the population were taken as subjects for this study. A four point likert type questionnaire was used for data collection. The questionnaire used was tagged “Perception of Performance Appraisal as a tool for Productivity and Career Enhancement Questionnaire”. Reactions to each item in the questionnaire were indicated by ticking one of the options in the category strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree. The scales were given values of 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively, however scoring was reversed for negatively worded items. The scores of the items were later added up to yield an individual’s attitude score. The simple percentage method was used for data analysis. A total of 92 questionnaires were sent out to the respondents, out of which 85 were returned thereby representing a response rate of 78.2%.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Tables 1-4 present the results of findings. The respondents were asked to agree strongly (SA), agree (A), disagree (D) or strongly disagree (SD) to the statements in the tables, F stands for Frequency of response.

In order to find out how library staff understand or perceive the term “performance appraisal” the question which says “which of the following do you consider as the appropriate definition of performance appraisal?” was asked.

Table 1
S/N 1 2 3 4 5

Perception of performance appraisal
Question Response % 27.2 5.95 21.25 13.6 4.25

frequency Performance appraisal is the routine evaluation of 32 work Performance appraisal is a management technique 7 aimed at gathering feedback Performance appraisal is a management tool for 25 improving performance Performance appraisal is a tool for staff 16

compensation Performance appraisal is a management tool used in 5

favouring a few people on the job Source: Author’s data presentation, 2007 From the analyses carried out majority of the respondents 32 (27.2%) felt that performance appraisal is a routine evaluation of work performance. In order words, it is merely a form filling exercise. 5(4.25%) saw it as a management tool used in favouring a few people on the job. This finding is in line with the findings of Evans (2005) who discovered that librarians feel uncomfortable with conducting performance appraisal in libraries. This implies that library administrators should seek out ways of making performance appraisal more acceptable to library staff. .

Table 2

Influence of performance appraisal on job performance

S/N

SA F %
27.2 22.1 18.7 15.3

A F
37 40 30 34

D %
31.4 5 34 25.5 28.9

SD %
8.5 9.35 17 16.1 5

No %
5.1 6.8 4.25 6.8

F
10 11 20 19

F
6 8 5 8

response F %
8 6 6.8 5.1

1 2 3 4

Performance appraisal improves job performance The assessment of performance motivates me to work harder Performance goals are clearly defined in the process of appraisal My performance is adequately monitored during performance

32 26 22 18

5 6 7

appraisal Performance appraisal does not contribute to job performance Library objectives are not clearly defined during appraisals I do not need feedback to monitor my performance

6 9 25

5.1 7.65 21.2 5

15 11 20

12.7 5 9.35 17

34 30 13

28.9 25.5 11.0 5

24 35 27

20.4 29.7 5 22.9 5

6 -

5.1 -

Source: Author’s data presentation, 2007

While responding to the statement that performance appraisal improves job performance, 69(58.65%) agreed while 16(13.6) disagreed. Even when put negatively in number five (5) “Performance appraisal does not contribute to job performance, only 21(17.85%) of the respondents agreed while 58. (49.3%) disagreed. This implies that library staff perceive performance appraisal as having positive effect on job performance. The finding however disagrees with that of Nelson (2005), whose study showed that performance appraisal has no positive influence on the employee’s job performance.

Table 3 advancement

Perceived effect of performance appraisal on career

S/N

SA F %
18.7 7.65 11.9 30.6 16.1 5 32 5 27.2 4.25

A F
35 24 38 29 38

D %
29.7 5 20.4 32.3 24.6 5 32.3

SD %
15.3 0 26.3 5 14.4 5 10.2 11.9

No %
8.5 11.0 5 8.5 6.8 6.8

F
18 31 17 12 14

F
10 13 10 8 8

response F %
8 6 6 6.8 5.1 5.1

1 2 3 4 5

The

appraisal of performance

22 9 14 36 19

provides an opportunity for training I receive coaching during performance evaluations I discover some of my weakness during appraisals Appraisals enhances the chances for promotion Performance appraisal provides me with the opportunity to set personal

6 7

goals Appraisals encourage career growth Performance appraisals do not

37 8

31.4 5 6.8

10 37

8.5 31.4 5

6 29

5.1 24.6 5

6

5.1

encourage career growth

Source: Author’s data presentation, 2007

Analysis of this table shows that performance appraisal provides an opportunity for career enhancement as seen in table 4 items 4 and 6. Responding to the statement “appraisals enhance the chances for promotion”, 55.25% of the total number of respondents gave positive indications while 17% disagreed. Responses to the statement “performance appraisal encourages career growth” were also on the positive side with 69 or 58.65% in agreement. This is in agreement with the findings of Hansen (1995)

Table 4
S/N

Preparation of performance appraisal instrument
SA F %
25.5

A F
25

D %
21.2 5

SD %
12.7 5

No %
7.65

F
15

F
9

response F %
6 5.1

1

Librarians are better equipped than the human resource department to

30

organize work oriented appraisals 2 for the library staff Librarians lack the necessary 8 6.8 20 17 29 24.6 5 28 23.8 28 23.8 22 18.7 7 5.95 22 18.7 6 5.1

administrative skills for conducting 3 performance appraisal I will be more committed to performance appraisals organized within the library than those of the 4 personnel department Performance appraisal instrument drawn out by librarians will be more task oriented than those handed 5 6 down by the personnel department Librarians will prepare the appraisal instrument to favour some people Librarians should work hand in hand with the personnel department when preparing the appraisal instrument 11 36 9.35 30.6 17 25 14.4 5 21.2 5 37 16 28 23.8 33 20.0 5 18

15.3 0

6

5.1

-

-

31.4 5 13.6 0

20 8

17 6.8

-

-

Source: Author’s data presentation, 2007

The result of the data collected shows that 55 (46.75%) feel that they will be more committed to performance appraisals organised within the library than those organised by the personnel department against 29(24.65%) who felt otherwise.55 (46.75%) were of the opinion that librarians are better equipped to organise work oriented appraisals for the library staff. 24(20.4%) did not share the same opinion. 6(5.1%) did not respond to that statement. This finding agrees with the findings of George (1995) Hansen (1995.

Conclusion
As long as appraisal reports continue to form the basis for managerial decisions in matters affecting staff welfare, organizations must find ways of making them relate to productivity or scrap them entirely. Failure to find a good appraisal system will affect the

way library employees go about their day to day activities and this will result in poor services. Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made; 1 Libraries should carry out internal appraisals apart from the appraisal conducted by the personnel department for the sole purpose of correcting deviations. 2 Recommendations for improvement must accompany every identified area of weakness in order to improve performance. 3 The appraisal exercise should be made rewarding for employees by identifying and making provisions for staff development.

References

Belcastro, P. (1998) Evaluating Library Staff: A Performance Appraisal System Chicago: American Library Association p7 Casio, W. (1996). Managing for maximum performance. HRMontly, (September), Pp 10-13 Edward, R. G., & Williams C.J., 91998) Performance appraisal in academic Libraries: Minor changes or major renovation? Library review vol. 47 No1pp14-19available@ http/www.emeraldlibrary.com accessed on 8/2/05 Evans, E. G. (2005) Another Look at Performance Appraisal in libraries available @ www.unesco.org/webworld/ramp/html accessed 8/2/05 George, V. E. (1995) Performance appraisal in an academic library: A case study

In Total quality management in academic libraries: Initial implementation efforts. Proceedings from the 1st International Conference on TQM and Academic Libraries Washington, D. C. Association of Research Libraries held April 20 -22, 1994 pp 141 -156

Hansen E. (1995) Staff appraisal in university libraries: three case studies. Personnel Education & Training, Vol.11 nos 1/2, 1995, p.3-5. available 1002.html accessed on at www.aslib.co.uk/caa/abstracts/open/95-

19/9/05

Kleiner, P. J (2005) Ensuring quality reference desk service: The introduction of a peer process availabe @

ala.org/ala/rusa/rusapubs/rusa/specialfeadtures 19/5/05

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Mullins, J. L. (1996) Management and Organisational Behaviour 4th ed.London: Pitman Publishing p 140 Odiase, J.O. U, Unegbu, V.E & Haliso, Y (2001) Introductionto the use of libraries and information sources Benin City: Nationwide publications p22 Ologbonsaiye, I. R (1994) Resource Management for Librarians Lagos: Concept Publication Limited P 35-40 Schachter, D. (2004, Sept.) How to set performance goals: Employee reviews are More critical than annual critiques Information Outlook p2

Slough,

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(2003)

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available

@

techserv.lib.vt.edu/TechServices/LAMAWeb/Personnel%20Evaluation.doc accessed on 3/9/05 Wallace, M. & Szilagyi, A. (1982) Managing behaviour in organizations Illinois: Scot, Foresman & Company pp 246- 268 Wilson, J. (2001). Performance appraisal – An obstacle to training and development? Career Development International Vol.6 No2 p93

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