IWP, Revealing Their Impact as Catalysts or Impediments on the Professional Trajectory of Civil Servants

โ€ฆ๐’Ž๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‘๐’†๐’๐’‘๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐’‡๐’–๐’๐’‡๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Š๐’“ ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’”๐’Š๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’Š๐’†๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’”๐’Š๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‘๐’†๐’๐’‘๐’๐’†’๐’” ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’• ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Š๐’“ ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’‡๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’…๐’–๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’‚๐’” ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’†๐’—๐’‚๐’๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’‡๐’๐’“๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’„๐’†๐’”.

Susmika Subba

Managing for Excellence” (MaX) was introduced in the 2015-16 period with the aim of improving performance by establishing clear accountability throughout the organizational hierarchy. This accountability was designed to be in line with the agency’s strategic goals. Additionally, the system aimed to distinguish between high-performing individuals and those who were not performing well. While these original goals remain important, the MaX framework has undergone a review to ensure its relevance in the current organizational transformation. This involves continuous monitoring of performance and a closer interaction between leaders and employees.

The performance evaluation system MaX has been overhauled to bring about positive behavioral change through a system that drives supervisors to provide continuous feedback, make their staff understand and commit to the purpose and meaning in their jobs and promote accountability through the involvement of employees in their work and workplace.

Under Preliminary Performance Assessment, one of the four important aspects of the MaX system, supervisor and supervisee jointly develop Performance Appraisal Form (PAF) to organize and manage individual activities to effectively contribute to achieving the annual and Five Year Plan objectives of the Agency. The assessment of the Individual Work Plan (IWP) is conducted using the Performance Appraisal Form which is then input to the Moderation Exercise for assignment of the final rating.

However, government employees argue that one of the primary causes of attrition in the country is the Individual Working Plan (IWP) rating system. When organizations assess their employees, the ratings are often inaccurate. Many agencies display favoritism, partiality, bias, and prejudice in their evaluations, often assigning ratings without considering the actual output achieved by the individuals. Some also argue that the parameters used deviate from an individual’s actual work responsibilities, leading to arbitrary assessments.

An Individual Work Plan (IWP) is a personalized action plan that every Civil Servant must create. Its purpose is to efficiently coordinate and oversee work tasks to make a meaningful contribution toward accomplishing an agency’s goals, in accordance with the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) or Annual Performance Targets (APT). According to the MaX Manual-2018, the development of IWP is an integral part of Section B of the Performance Appraisal forms and involves a collaborative effort between a supervisor and their subordinate.

Per insights from an undisclosed civil service operative who prefers to maintain anonymity, โ€œThe IWP system aid in the evaluation of individual performance in the workplace, which motivates people to fulfill their responsibilities and be more responsible, but more importantly, it erodes people’s interest in their profession due to bias in the evaluation of individual performances. Inconsistent IWP results have now taken center stage, making it difficult to continue with business as usual.โ€

Another civil individual added, “In the context of the Individual Work Plan (IWP), discontentment arises from the evaluation process. This dissatisfaction subsequently hampers personal commitment to excel in fulfilling duties for the greater good. Imperfections are inherent to human nature, leading to biases when evaluating or assessing IWPs, often influenced by personal connections while the dedication of individuals striving to advance organizational objectives are risked being overlooked. Consequently, devoted individuals may lose their rightful position. This situation ultimately discourages their enthusiasm, directly or indirectly impeding the organization’s progress. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of initiative or concern to address and rectify these issues within the system meant for the betterment of the nation.”

Civil servants persist in articulating their dissatisfaction with the IWP rating, encompassing not only agency personnel but also hospital staff. According to one of the nurses at Bajo Hospital, โ€œThe IWP system succor in personal advancement. It gives a place to rate and track individual performances. However, it is a lost cause and requires excessive effort. Failure to meet input requirements result in “needs improvement” rating, which delays promotion.โ€

A nurse at Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital said, ” I find that the emphasis is placed not on the number of patients I’ve personally attended and hours spent, but rather on what’s documented on paper. Therefore, with this assessment system, more attention is directed towards meeting paper-based criteria rather than actual work output and efficiency. I am concerned about the potential for errors in generalization, especially considering that some committee members might lack a comprehensive understanding of standard operating procedures and guidelines. It appears they may primarily assess the overall output and adjust individual efforts accordingly. This approach could potentially introduce bias and put certain individuals at a disadvantage.”

The issue with the IWP and PAF for evaluating individual not only affects employees but also poses challenges for supervisors responsible for assigning ratings. They encounter a significant hurdle in deciding how to classify individuals in performance value. โ€œSpeaking as one of the supervisors, I must say that it becomes quite burdensome for us to evaluate the employees. It’s genuinely challenging to distinguish a particular individual from the rest of the employees, considering they all contribute equally and put in the same amount of effort into their work,โ€ said one of the supervisors.

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) stated, โ€œFor the performance evaluation system to be effective, it requires distinct ratings that acknowledge and reward high performers, while aiding those who fall short in meeting expectation to enhance their performance. The success of the MaX system in improving civil service productivity relies on the collective effort of all civil servants, particularly those in the Senior Civil Service. The systemโ€™s success hinges on the capability of civil service leaders and officers to impartially assess and precisely gauge each officerโ€™s job performance.

The outcome of MaX implementation is contingent on the contributions of every individual civil servant, determining its success or failure.โ€

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