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This study was to assess the impact of performance appraisal as a tool for motivation, using Ebonyi State Ministry of Works and Transport as the case organization. Being a descriptive research, the survey strategy was adopted. A total of 85 questionnaires were administered out of population of 108, determined by the Yaro Yameni method. The finding was mixed. There was no compelling indication that performance appraisal served as a motivating tool to the employees. Part of the reason for this was that remuneration, promotion, and other benefits were not strictly tied to the outcome of the appraisal. Performance appraisal is regarded as a mere routine and was, therefore, not considered as a means for employees growth. Nonetheless, some employees believe that the performance appraisal exercise motivate them to greater performance. The research recommended that the organization should use the appraisal outcome as the basis for staff promotion, remuneration, reward and punishment, etc. in order to make it serve as a motivation tool.



1.1 Background of the Study

Every business organization has a set of objectives which all the employees must strive to achieve towards ensuring its success and continuity. In a workplace, however, employees do not work at the same level of intensity and commitment. There are top, marginal, and mediocre performers. Performance appraisal is motive-oriented. The motives for appraising the performance of the employees

are the reasons behind the behaviour of the employees. Knowing that their performance are being analyzed and evaluated, the employees will strive to give their maximum, so as to impress their employer(s). In a situation where the performance of the employees in an organization are not appraised, it could jeopardize employees’ commitment and productivity. The impact of not assessing employees’

performance may result to underperformance on the part of the employees, which could result to skill depreciation, indolence, and other negative behaviours. On the part of the managers, the impact of not appraising employees’ performance may lead to a situation where set goals are not attained, and manager(s) self-worth and competence put in doubt. The organization as a whole could also feel the

impact of not assessing employees’ performance in that it could result to low productivity, loss of revenue/profit, etc. Umoh (2000) captures this when he wrote “man’s feelings are essentially irrational and run counter to the goals of the organization and therefore must be controlled and prevented from interfering with the organizational goals”. There is, therefore, the need to establish organizational wide

standards aimed at appraising the performance of its employees, which would help in determining the employees’ productivity, reward or punishment. Performance appraisal, according to Armstrong (2006), is “the formal assessment and rating of individuals by their managers, at, usually, an annual review meeting”. This is in line with Pigors and Myers (1973), who write that employees’ performance appraisal

“is the process of defining expectations for employees’ performance, measuring, evaluating and recording employees actual performance in relation to those expectations and providing the feedback”. They further opine that performance appraisal has been adopted by many organizations as a means of helping supervisors to evaluate the work of the employees. It has been used most frequently as a basis for

selecting candidates for promotion to better jobs or for making merit increase in the case of collective remuneration and to place emphasis on rewarding an individual on the basis of the outcome of the evaluation of his performance on the job. There is the need to point out that the type of organizational climate can, as an internal environmental factor, affect the appraisal process positively or negatively.

In today’s organization, for instance, employees rely heavily on their co workers in performing their tasks. In a climate that is closed and non-trusting, co-operation is discouraged and performance suffers, even though an individual worker may like to do a good job; recognizing the true condition of each worker becomes quite difficult (Eze, 2002). Appraisal of employees’ performance is, of course, a continuous aspect of the supervisor’s job.

A formal appraisal system requires the supervisor to consider more carefully and systematically, such factors as co-operation, dependability, output, judgement, safety, quantity of work, quality of performance, fairness, ability to work under pressure, ability to work with others, adaptability, and so on. Every appraisal ought to be made within the context of each employee’s peculiar job, and every rating ought to be based upon the total performance of each employee.

Scholars have advanced different types of performance appraisal. Robbins (2005), Paulson and Whitehurch (1988) enumerated the following types:

Ranking method: Here, each employee is compared with all other employees simultaneously for the purpose of placing them in a single ranking order or merit.

Paired comparison: This type compares each worker with every other worker at a time and decisions are taken to know whose performance is better.

Grading: Here, certain categories of worth, such as average, above average, below average or satisfactory, are established in advance and carefully defined, and employees are then evaluated using the established grade definitions and categories accordingly.

Graphic Scale: In this type, performance appraisal involves establishing scales for a number of specific factors selected from the areas of employees’ work characteristics such as dependability, initiative, creativity, knowledge, leadership, etc and the employees’ contribution to the organization such as quality and quantity of work.

Checklist: This is where a catalogue of questions with Yes or No options are designed concerning the ratees and their performance.

Critical Incidence: This is where a rater has to take note of those attitude (either favourable or not) exhibited by employees in the discharge of their duties.

Field Review: Here, outside specialists are invited to evaluate the performance of employees.

Peer Rating: In this type, an employee’s performance is evaluated or appraised by his co-workers.

Management by Objective: It is a form of result-oriented appraisal. It requires that both supervisors and the subordinates agree upon specific objectives in the form of the measurable result.

Written Essay: The appraiser or rater writes a narrative describing an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, past performance, potential, and suggestions for improvement.

Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS): They combine major elements from the critical incident and graphic rating scale approaches. BARS specify definite, observable, and measurable job behaviour. The results of this process are behavioural descriptions, such as anticipates, plans, execute, solve immediate problems, carries out orders, and handles emergency situations.

The purpose of employees’ performance appraisal as a tool for motivating employees cannot be over-emphasized.  The purpose or rationale for employees’ performance appraisal, according to Armstrong (2006) is that it enables managers or employers to: express explicitly, their views about the employees’ performance. The exercise also indicates who are the exceptional performers and those who are not.

Rating employees’ performance enables us to formulate methods that would be used in giving out awards based on the level of individual achievement. Moreover, it helps in conveying a clear message to people on how they are doing and can motivate them  to improve on their performance if they are found wanting after the rating exercise (Armstrong, 2006).

Robbins (2005) on his part, stated that the rationale for performance appraisal is that the exercise helps organization in: arriving at human resource decisions; identifying training and development needs; selecting criterion which selection and development programmes are validated; providing feedback to employees; and adopting basis for reward allocations. It is pertinent to always ensure that employees are

made to realize that their chances of being retained, rewarded or promoted are based on the value, quality and level of their performance in the workplace. In as much as there is a punishment awaiting an indolent employee and a reward for devoted ones, employees will be motivated to give their best efforts in the work place, knowing quite well that their chances of being promoted to higher level jobs with improved remuneration packages depend on their level of commitment and productivity.

There are some issues that question the validity of performance appraisal as a tool for motivation.  Some of these emanate from the fact that not all jobs can be quantitatively measured and evaluated. The level of productivity of employees in certain jobs can be difficult to ascertain. Again, some raters/supervisors could be biased in rating their rate/subordinates. This could lead to subjective results which cannot be

taken as the true values of employees’ performance, and which may demotivate, rather than motivate employees. Armstrong (2006) notes that performance appraisal has been discredited because too often it has been operated as a top-down and largely bureaucratic system owned by the human resource department rather than by line managers. The exercise tends to be backward looking, concentrating on

what has gone wrong, rather than looking forward to future development needs. Performance appraisal too often generated into “a dishonest annual ritual” (Armstrong, 2006). Ebonyi State Ministry of Works and Transport Abakaliki has five (5) departments, two units and a parastatal (Ebonyi State Transport Corporation, EBOTRANS). The ministry is headed by a commissioner, assisted by a permanent secretary.

The ministry has the following departments: administrative department, planning, research and statistics departments, mechanical engineering department, civil engineering department, and finance and supply department. The units are the public relations unit and the audit unit. The total staff strength of the ministry is 108. The Ebonyi State Ministry of Works and Transport has the following responsibilities:

Works: They are responsible for the construction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructural facilities.

Supervision: They supervise, and sometimes award contracts in the state. They also supervise and sometimes carry out direct labour in the state.

Transportation: They supervise the operation of transporters in the state, e.g. individual mass transit operators, and government owned mass transit company (EBOTRANS).

The ministry uses the graphic scale as its method for appraising employees’ performance. The ministry uses this method because it enables them to establish scales for a number of specific factors selected from the areas of employees’ work characteristics such as dependability, initiative, creativity, knowledge, leadership, and the employees’ contribution to the organisztion such as quality and quantity of work. It enables the ministry to evaluate employees on areas such as:

(i)      The level of creativity inherent in individual employees,

(ii)      The level of knowledgeability possessed by individual employees,

(iii)     The extent an individual employee can command followership from their co-workers,

(iv)    The level of acceptability of the quality of work performed by individual employees, etc.


1.2    Statement of Problem

One of the prevailing problems of government ministries, agencies and parastatals in Nigeria relates to poor commitment, indolence, absenteeism, low morale, and low productivity of many employees, among others. These are in spite of government’s efforts to improve on their welfare, especially in terms of monetary remunerations. Management theories posit other non-monetary intrinsic modes of motivating

workers towards increased productivity and achievement of organizational goals. These include job enrichment, opportunities for personal growth, etc. In view of the prevailing apathy and poor work ethics in public sector organizations, in spite of several measures to improve commitment and performance, this work is necessitated by the need to verity the impact of performance appraisal as a tool for motivation in

public sector organizations, using Ebonyi State Ministry of Works and Transport, Abakaliki, as a case organization.

1.3    Research Question

This research is aimed at answering the question: How effective is performance appraisal as a tool for motivation?

1.4    Objective of the Study

The objective of this study is to ascertain the impact of performance appraisal as a tool for motivation.

1.5    Significance of the Study

The outcome of this study will hopefully throw more light on the effectiveness, or otherwise, of performance appraisal as a tool for motivation, and on ways to improve its effectiveness as a motivational tool. This work may also provoke ideas for further research.

1.6    Scope of the Study

This work will focus on assessing the impact of performance appraisal as a tool for motivation in Ebonyi State Ministry of Works and Transport, Abakaliki.

1.7    Limitation of the Study

The limitations of the study are:

Time Frame: This research was limited by the time available to carry it out, which was further limited by the researcher’s simultaneous participation in other academic responsibilities such as lectures and examinations. Consequently, we could only consider single research question and objective.

Source of Data: Much of the data used in this research were collected via questionnaires. The validity of our result(s) may, therefore, not only be influenced by the methodology used, but by the reliability of responses received.

Access to Official Information: The ministry was unable to grant us full access to official information.


1.8    Organization of Work

The study is presented in five chapters, with sections and sub-sections. Chapter one contains the general introduction, while review of literature comes under chapter two. Research methodology is in chapter three, and data presentation and analysis occupies chapter four. In the concluding chapter, we summarize the study, draw conclusions, and proffer suggestions for policy recommendations. 

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