[The HR Experiment] – [Re-drawing Performance Appraisal in Governments]

[The HR Experiment] – [Re-drawing Performance Appraisal in Governments]

To build systems that work, we need to incentivise performance. And to incentivise it, we need to measure it first – objectively and precisely. Private sector generally pays a lot of attention to that. Hence, perhaps, it is able to build far more efficient systems.

Performance measurement in government, however, remains subjective. The performance appraisal forms for most posts contain pretty abstract and/or vague parameters. They are not data driven. For instance, it would ask you to rate an individual on integrity, dedication to work etc. which can’t be measured in concrete terms. Factors other than performance slowly start weighing in. Then, because there is really no data to backup a rating given, most people tend to get similarly high ratings and the appraisal process loses any seriousness. So naturally, it becomes difficult to objectively incentivise performance and eventually we end up with a sub-par system.

We, at Ajmer Development Authority (ADA) in Rajasthan, want to create a system that works, as much as possible, on its own. To achieve it, we want a scenario where each person’s performance is measured regularly and objectively. It may not be a 100%, but something is better than nothing. There can be 2 ways of going about it. First is bottom-up, where we start devising performance appraisal parameters for the positions lower down the hierarchy first and then move up. The reason is – it would be easier to quantify and measure their tasks. As we move up to the CEO, responsibilities become more abstract. The other is top-down, where we start from me.

So for instance, how can my performance be measured? My performance metric is only one – how well my organization performs. Plain and simple. So what can be performance criteria for my organization? We can break it into some components. One important aspect is say, citizen service delivery. We are in urban development. So anytime anyone buys or inherits a house / commercial property, they have to get their name recorded in our records. This is called ‘name transfer’. So if say, at the end of last month/quarter, we were taking on an average 25 days to dispose name transfer applications with 5 days standard deviation and this month we were able to improve the average to 20 days with 4 days as standard deviation, we have improved. Similar metrics can be devised for othre citizen services. Once this is defined at top level, it can be broken down and defined until each individual in the chain. Now, if at the end of the year performance review, one has the data that X person took how many days on average with how much standard deviation and how he/she fared compared to peers, performance appraisal suddenly becomes much more meaningful. Year end is far away, such reviews can be conducted periodically to continuously improve performance. Now if the individual is assured that whatever he/she is (or isn’t) doing will get reflected for sure in the performance appraisal, work will start happening more efficiently. Note this is not a one pill to solve all problems in governance and a lot needs to be done after it, but it provides a start.

Likewise, another important component of our organizational performance is how much revenue we generate? We don’t get any funding from the government, we have to generate our own revenues and spend it in infrastructural development of the city. So if overall revenues go up, the organization – and as a corollary I – do well. Next the revenue can be broken up into various sub-components (say revenue from plot auctions, revenue from developing new colonies, revenue from urban lease, from conversion of land use and so on) and objectively performance of each and every person in the chain be measured. Then instead of rating everybody subjectively or even slightly better based on an assessment of the effort they put in, we can rate everyone objectively based on results and outcomes! Suddenly the organization becomes much more result oriented. Inter-sectional coordination will become much better. Every person will be able to see his/her work and most will try to consciously improve. Similarly, other components can be defined.

So what we are looking for is this advice. Help us devise ways to track our performance. One more thing, in order to succeed, performance measurement musn’t impose a burden big enough to become a task in itself. If it takes a lot of time, its adoption would be difficult and expensive. It should integrate in the organization like some salt does in water. It should be as automated as possible. It may be possible that we may have to adopt more IT systems to do our work so that performance measurement may become easier. We may need to tweak some of our existing IT systems or do some process re-engineering. If it brings more efficiency, then so be it, we will do so. It will be worth it.

At this stage, looking to engage with people who would have anything to contribute to this experimental project – an idea, advice, question, critique anything. You could want to get over a call/email to discuss more, you could want to travel here to get a first hand feel of things. I can share any information which is sharable under proactive disclosure clause of RTI. I will be happy to share it publically so that more can get a better perspective. We need an end-to-end clarity. At this stage, there is no money to be offered because we don’t have much clarity. We don’t want to hire a consultant and be taken for a ride. Once it becomes more structured, however, a proper project can be framed.

So, let’s re-draw!


  1. Indeed welcome step Sir…. If it can happen in all government offices..it would save us from buttering our bosses for getting outstanding in APAR… Rather data will speak for performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, the analysis is pretty comprehensive and detailed. But the question remains the same, that is, the government service and corporate job are inherently different. The demand of a corporate job after every permutation zeros down to profit but in government service, THE PROFIT, is not the only objective. People centric work and welfare forms a major part, which can not be quantified just based on appraisal report.
    This dichotomy is always there and perhaps that is the reason people joining government services after spending some years in corporate finds it difficult to adjust but ultimately it’s their choice/calling to shift their career goal post!


  3. Dear Gaurav,

    It is perennial point that to get better productivity, performance and profits, organization need to have robust performance appraisal system which incentivise good performance. But at the same time you need to be extra careful while rolling out any such idea in Govt Organization especially Electricity Boards. Now days, even private sector too is reinventing the performance appraisal system. When you grow as an organisation and develop multilevel/ multifunctional organization, you need to be extra cautious while applying performance appraisal system because it becomes more complex with organization. Remember one point that people behave the way they are measured. Performance measurement KPIs needs lot of deliberation before it can be used to measure performance. Since, I have worked with CXOs for most of time, i have seen effects or performance appraisal system closely.
    I can help you to understand it more in depth and later on implementation.

    Manoj Sharma

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What cannot be measured,cannot be managed.

    Incentives are too weak in govt organisations.U touched upon a topic that I wanted to raise since so long.Look at ATAL Labs by Niti Aayog.These labs rely on volunteers to teach tech-related stuff to students.But what is the incentive?Nothing.No volunteer will be regular to these labs if he is neither paid nor given a certificate of recognition for visiting these labs and teaching students.Incentives matter.There is no free lunch.The wheels of any projects run on incentives!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Gaurav,

    Nice to see your post after a long time. Its a good idea to have performance based appraisals. In this , I could briefly add few points :
    1) You can create groups of few people, and rate them instead of individuals
    2) Performance can be based to certain groups instead of individuals (eg we have quarterly variable pay linked to Verticals like BFS being 1 vertical, Insurance being other.)

    Reason : It will provide healthy competition and will avoid fights and also group efoorts motivated members of the team, and you can compare the best group.

    In this I can mention few points from my current experience, can have detailed discussion if it appeals

    CASE 1) AGILE : Methodology , in which work to be achieved is divided into sprints,say of 2 weeks, and in the start a KANBAN board can be maintained for TO,In Progress, Done activities. This helps in easy tracking. Various teams can have their own boards

    CASE 2) DevOps : In IT , its combining Development (coding) with Operations (Testing etc) .I have not used this approach but can work to find out more.

    It will be great if you can reply to this post or at least we can get in touch.

    Thanks and Regards
    Anuj Bajaj
    contact : 9914877765


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