T&T Top Cop’s challenge to performance appraisal raises interesting considerations

Dear Editor,

SN of Wednesday, 14 March 2012, reproduced publication of a development in the sister Caricom Country of Trinidad & Tobago that should not go unnoticed at responsible levels of management of either the local public or private sector: ‘T&T Top Cop challenging job evaluation’.

Even though the headline was a misrepresentation, the situation described brings an interestingly new perspective to the industrial relations implications deriving from (allegedly) indifferently designed performance appraisal systems (compounded by poor application) in organisations.

In the T&T case an expatriate Police Commissioner has retained legal representation to question ‘the fairness of the methodology and criteria’ used by the Police Service Commission to evaluate his performance.

The immediate relevance of this development is not only in respect of Guyana’s counterpart ‘Top Cop’, and the Guyana Police Force as a whole – firstly; but also to the extant imbroglio at the University of Guyana as to whether a performance appraisal system exists in the respective organisations, and if it does, how and when last was it actually implemented by the local Police Service Commission or the UG Council, respectively.

The answers should, hopefully, lay to rest concerns raised at times about the promotion process in these institutions, as well as the rationale for termination of services?

What the T&T situation also strongly suggests, is that its Police Service Commission is a virile institution, albeit with its decisions open to question. But in Guyana the wider ramifications must include managements of other public sector agencies, related Union representation (as it must their counterparts in the private sector) additionally taking on board the principle of protesting the non-implementation of the performance appraisal system, where it is formally provided for – as in two disparate but outstanding examples: a) the Public Service; and b) the Guyana Sugar Corporation, whose employees (excepting task-paid sugar workers) are instead subject to across-the-board increases, in defiant indifference to performance achievements (and long established Union agreements) – a posture that overlooks the reality of organisational performance being the cumulative result of individual efforts.

It would appear that in the light of the high profile legal intervention in Trinidad & Tobago, individuals, staff associations, and trade unions elsewhere in the Region may wish to contemplate the justification for, and constitutionality of:

i) requesting the institution of a formal performance management system in the organisation;

ii) where such a programme exists, insisting on its implementation in the most professional manner;

iii) where the outputs of the above exercise are deemed to be defective, questioning the fairness of the methodology and criteria utilised;

iv) should the foregoing phases not provide the satisfaction sought by affected employees, seeking advice on the appropriateness of legal action.

With Guyana’s legal system falling within the wider jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice, managements of organisations should take heed that talk of development may not be enough; but that enforcement of the requirement to develop their corps of human resource skills, starting with the institution of an effective performance management system, could very well be made justiciable.

In any case, why should these self-proclaimed leaders not wish to invest in the preparation of successors who would not only maintain their respective legacies, but would also be better equipped to compete in a growth environment which the former now espouse.

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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