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Performance appraisal of administrative staff in a tertiary institution: usage and perception
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There is little empirical evidence relating to how university administrative employees view the performance appraisal process (Analoui & Fell, 2002). The aims of this study were: (1) to determine the purpose of the performance appraisal system used at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and (2) to investigate administrative staff perceptions and understanding of this appraisal system. Areas investigated included (1) how allied staff viewed the process, (2) how prepared they were for the process, (3) did it impact on their motivation, and (4) did it help or hinder career development. From the research findings, the researcher prepared a set of recommendations for AUT Human Resource department. The recommendations were intended to assist in making AUT performance appraisals more meaningful and relevant to administrative staff, and foster a better awareness of the benefits of undertaking the process. This study was a partial replication of the Analoui and Fell study undertaken in the UK. Like the study being replicated, this current study was also exploratory basic research adopting a triangulation method. This consisted of the positivistic methodology adopting the cross-sectional survey - structured closed questions questionnaire; the phenomenological methodology using an explanatory case study whereby audio-taped semi-structured interviews were conducted; and the use of researcher (myself) as research instrument. AUT documents relating to performance appraisal were also reviewed. Ethics approval was sought from AUT Ethics Committee. The Analoui and Fell questionnaire and interview guide were modified to suit the AUT context. The sample consisted of 543 staff members. The return rate of the staff survey was 20 per cent.The study found that there was no evidence that the respondents wanted the process discontinued even though comments from those who had been through a Performance and Development Review (P&DR) and Formative Appraisal (FA) indicated a range of both positive and negative experiences. Respondents felt that they were adequately prepared and that they were involved in the pre-appraisal process. In terms of performance appraisal as a motivational tool, few respondents felt that the process motivated them. There was evidence that FA was beneficial in helping with career development. The stated main purposes of AUT performance appraisal were: to assist in administrative (pay increase and promotion), and developmental (training) decisions, with the latter purpose being secondary. Recommendations resulting from the current research findings include: (1) that the current process should be evaluated, and (2) appraisers and appraisees should undertake training prior to an appraisal. On-going research should be undertaken to find out how administrative staff in the wider NZ university sector view the process. To follow-on from the current research, a longitudinal study should be undertaken of administrative staff reactions immediately after an appraisal. Research should also be undertaken to investigate if administrative staff will associate completion of the performance appraisal process which includes the setting of goals with an increased work overload.