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Performance Assessment in the Public Services of the EU Member States: Procedure for Performance Appraisal, for Employee Interviews and Target Agreements

Christoph Demmke
ISBN 13 978-90-6779-205-9 EIPA Code #: 2007/03 Year: 2007 Pages: 131

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Also available in German
Classic performance appraisals have in the past few years been viewed very critically across Europe. Frequently performance appraisals were (if conducted at all) perceived as necessary chores in the everyday administrative life. Neither the superiors nor the employees were interested in the appraisals. However, this lack of interest derived from different reasons. Whereas the one group did not wish to conduct evaluations, the other group did not wish to be evaluated. Frequently performance appraisals had no consequences: In many cases, the appraisals had no significant effects on the work conditions of the personnel. The principle of life- long employment contracts, the seniority principle and more or less automatic promotions put the use of performance appraisals into question. The appraisal system itself represented another weakness: Bureaucratic requirements and a multitude of criteria to be evaluated led to subjective results. This subjectivity has been frequently and rightly criticised. Another point that yielded much criticism is the tendency to assign ratings that are too high, in order to prevent internal personnel management conflicts.
In the meantime, the traditional legitimation problems involved with the instrument of performance appraisal have changed fundamentally. Additionally the instrument itself has significantly gained importance. In many Member States, the performance appraisal is increasingly and more consistently linked to consequences for the personnel. These consequences affect performance agreements, performance-related pay, career development, promotions, and increasingly also job security. With these changes, the instrument of performance appraisal has gained a position at the core of human resource management. Yet the changes are not limited to the increased importance of this instrument. In fact, the increased significance also demands improved application and professionalisation of the entire management process.
This publication by Christoph Demmke investigates and analyses this reform process from a comparative and empirical point of view. It examines the situation in the public services Member States of the EU, Norway and the European Commission.