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A new performance culture has been created with greater emphasis on the importance of the

motivation, development and optimal utilisation of human resources, towards the

achievement of a client focused and results oriented public service and education delivery in

particular. Hence this paper is aimed at discussing the reasons that led to the introduction of

the Annual Performance Appraisal system in the education realm of the Zambian education

system. The paper will further show the significant differences between the operations of the

annual confidential Forms and the Annual Performance Appraisal system; therein a

conclusion will be drawn at the close of the discussion.

A performance appraisal program (PA program) is important to employees’ professional

development, to meeting the company’s or firm’s goals or objectives and, ultimately, to

contributing to the company’s or firm’s bottom line. No employer, whether a small CPA

firm, a Big Four firm, a nonprofit organization, a government institution or a private or public

company, should be exempt from having a formal PA program. Other benefits that could be

derived from having a PA program include enhanced communications, an opportunity to

effectively address performance problems, and improved employee morale (Kelly, 1991)

Before creating a PA program, there are several factors to consider. The employer should first

determine the objectives for the program. Second, the employer should develop a plan and

timeframe for launching the program. Finally, the employer should prepare for any obstacles

that might appear, and regularly consider ways to improve the program.

The primary reason for having a PA program is to monitor employees’ performance,

motivate staff and improve company morale. Monitoring employee performance requires

routine documentation, which is accomplished through completing a performance appraisal

form. When employees are aware that the company is mindful of their performance and that

they could be rewarded with merit increases and promotions, they are motivated to work


Morale is improved when employees receive recognition or reward for their work An

effective PA program will assist the company in achieving its goals and objectives. Not only

will training needs be identified and addressed during a PA review, but hidden talent can be

discovered as well (GRZ, 1977). Through identifying these training needs, staff can perform

their jobs at the highest level and be in a better position to address clients’, members’ and

customers’ concerns and questions. A well-developed staff is more likely to be proactive,

productive and resourceful, all of which helps give the company a competitive edge, from

improved customer relations to increased profits.

Before the PA program is up and running, a performance appraisal form should be designed

with input from managers. It should be able to sufficiently measure performance, be simple

enough for all employees to complete, and not take more than an hour to finish. In

implementing the PA program, top management should give the plan its blessing; employees

should understand how it works, and the staff at large should be encouraged to view the

program as a valuable human resources tool.

An effective employee appraisal provides an opportunity to give feedback as well as receive

it. The employee receives important information as to what areas of the job she is performing

well and those that need improvement, so she knows exactly where she stands. The reviewer

can also receive feedback from the employee that can help her make improvements in the

work environment (MOU, 1992). The reviewer may also uncover issues that could be

impeding employees from performing their best, and she can take corrective measures if


In addition to reviewing performance based on previously established goals, the performance

appraisal is also a good time to establish new goals. If deficiencies are identified during the

appraisal, the reviewer and employee can work together to establish new goals as well as

develop a plan to reach them. For example, if a salesperson missed his sales quota for the

year, he and the reviewer can establish a plan to reach next year's quota by increasing call

activity by a certain percentage.

Employee appraisals are important for improving communications between the employee and

reviewer. By speaking openly about the job performance and issues that may be affecting it,

the employee and reviewer can develop a sense of trust that may have been lacking.

Employees who previously did not feel comfortable approaching the reviewer with a problem

may become more likely to voice her concerns, which can prevent a small issue from

escalating into a major problem over time.

Performance appraisals can provide key information that can help evaluate recruiting

practices. For example, if a high percentage of workers who were hired within a recent time

frame scored well on their appraisals, the company may conclude that its recruiting process is

working effectively. On the other hand, the presence of many poor performers may indicate

that the recruiting efforts are missing the mark and the hiring process may need an overhaul

(Chisholm, 1998).

Pitfalls of a PA program will be evident if the managers are not adequately trained to

monitor, interview and grade their staff. Grading that does not accurately reflect the

employee’s work performance could land a company in hot water, as performance

evaluations often are used as evidence in wrongful termination cases. Further still,

supervisors who let personal bias creep into their employee evaluations could be setting the

stage for a lawsuit.

The PA program should be reviewed at least annually to determine if it is meeting

management’s expectations. Areas to consider when reviewing the PA form should include

the grading system, to see that core skills and soft skills are evaluated effectively; sufficient

space for employee comments; and categories that correctly address and measure all of the

employees’ responsibilities and job descriptions. Additionally, the form should include a

future goals section and a self-evaluation section (MOU, 1992). The second part of this

article, to be featured in next month’s issue, will focus on how employees and managers

should complete the performance evaluation form.


Chris Joseph (2012) Business, technology, health, fitness and sport,York College of


Chisholm, L., G. L. T. Makwati, P. T. M. Marope, and S. D. Dumba-Safuli. 1998. SADC

initiatives in education policy management. Report of a needs assessment study.

Harare: UNESCO and SADC Human Resource Sector.

Government of Republic of Zambia. 1977. Educational reform document. Government


Kelly, M. T. 1991. Education in a declining economy: The case of Zambia, 1975–1985

Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Ministry of Education. 1992. Focus on learning. Lusaka: Ministry of Education.

_____. 1996. Educating our future: National policy on education. Lusaka: Ministry of


_____. 2000. The basic school curriculum framework. Lusaka: Curriculum Development