The new and revised Performance Management System (PMS) called the Managing for Excellence (MaX) 2023 system will now govern how the performance of civil servants are assessed.
The PMS has witnessed a dynamic evolution over the years. Pre-2006, assessments focused on attributes. Then, 2006-2014 saw an alignment with the mission or vision. Informal appraisals were tied to promotions. FY 2015-2016 aligned PMS with APA/APT, introducing moderation and an online system. The recent shift, starting in July 2022, harmonizes PMS with long-term outcomes, supporting a comprehensive transformation initiative.
In the past, over 97 percent received very good (VG) or higher ratings, often based solely on supervisor assessment. Despite many civil servants receiving outstanding ratings there were service delivery concerns.
The data from RCSC underscores a consistent upward trend in performance categorization, after moderation aligned to APA score.
Performance scores before moderation in the four financial years of 2018-19 to 2021-22 saw that out of 16,705 evaluations, a significant 11,382 achieved ‘Outstanding,’ showcasing remarkable prowess. Another 4,753 gathered ‘Very Good’ ratings, while 435 secured ‘Good.’ Only 23 needed improvement, and 111 remained unrated.
MaX key features are that it commences with meticulous performance planning, linking KPIs to job roles for transparent expectations. The innovation extends to continual monitoring, fostering a culture of feedback and structured coaching. Notably, performance moderation eliminates supervisor bias concerns. Results are communicated categorically, with a tailored performance enhancement strategy for PME category.
“Our goal is to bring about positive behavioral change, driving supervisors to offer continuous feedback for staff engagement, establish purpose in employees’ roles, and foster a sense of ownership,” stated a RCSC official.
“The revised system aims to eradicate concerns that previously plagued the civil service by ensuring clear and objective performance targets, continuous monitoring, and close engagement between leaders and employees,” the RCSC official further said.
The official pointed out that in the past, a notable percentage of civil servants received favorable ratings, even in cases where performance might not have warranted such scores. The MaX system, however, introduces an element of moderation in the performance assessment process.
RCSC has implemented a bell curve methodology for evaluating performance ratings since 2016. This distribution designates 5 percent for supervisory civil servants, three percent for P2 and lower ranks, and two percent for educators, all falling within the PME classification which is the lowest.
Among the entire workforce, 3 percent are categorized as PME, 75 percent as satisfactory performers, 15 percent as very good, and 7 percent as outstanding. This method maintains consistency while appraising performance across different sectors within the organization.
The school moderation based on school performance is implemented whereby, those who Partially Meets Expectation (PME) falls to 0 percent moderation if the school maintains in category 1 with a score between 90-100 which falls under outstanding. On the contrary, if the school fails to maintain less than a score of 70, then the PME falls to 2 percent compared to 3 percent for other civil servants.
In the earlier Max System those who feel under PME twice were to be removed from service but this has been increased to three times now. Executives are less lucky as they can be removed at any moment if there is significant drop in performance of the agency and they are responsible.
Managing for excellence focus on performance planning, continuous monitoring, and moderation to create a culture of excellence within the Bhutanese civil service. This culture shift is exemplified through the involvement of leaders in providing continuous feedback to employees and encouraging them to understand the significance of their roles.
Furthermore, the MaX system leverages the moderation scores to inform critical HR decisions, such as nominations for capacity-building programs. Candidates with higher moderation scores are given priority, encouraging consistent performance improvement and skill development.
MaX system, introduced after a good amount of evaluation and consultation with the civil servants during various forums including the recent dzongkhag tours, is expected to bring about transformative changes in the civil service and desired behavior through mindset and culture shift.
While the MaX system ensures significant improvements, some potential challenges may arise. Adjustment periods, alignment issues, and adapting to a new performance culture could pose initial hurdles.
Currently, agencies are carrying out moderation for the fiscal year 2022-2023 based on the uniform bell curve for the first time for the staff, which is not aligned with the APA score as in the past. This is expected to be completed by end of August 2023.
Global statistics reveal that merely 3 in 10 workers view performance management positively, while a staggering 85 percent of firms struggle to reshape their culture. Alarmingly, 69 percent of supervisors are uncomfortable communicating with employees, and 1 in 5 business leaders find acknowledging achievements difficult.