The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) completed the annual performance assessment, including the moderation exercise of the fiscal year 22-23 for around 22,230 civil servants in August this year. The civil servants, however, are discontent with the moderation exercise.
The moderation exercise was carried out aligned to the bell curve methodology implemented for evaluating performance ratings. According to RCSC, there were 408 civil servants in the executives and P1 Management (P1M) category who underwent moderation.
During the moderation process, the civil servants in the executives and P1 Management (P1M) category were evaluated and the results showed that 14% were classified as “Exceeding Expectation,” demonstrating an exceptional level of performance. 82% of them were classified as “Meet Expectation,” exhibiting satisfactory performance. The remaining 4%, equivalent to about 17 individuals, were categorized as “Partially Meeting Expectations” (PME) and were offered guidance in the areas that required improvement to reach their potential.
However, some civil servants say that they are not happy with the moderation. To many of the civil servants, the moderation exercise came suddenly in the middle of the implementation period.
One senior civil servant said that despite that it is high time for moderation in the civil service, “the process of moderation came suddenly.”
A senior civil servant said that the RCSC should have given some time and provided some required training in line with the moderation method. Civil servants should have been made aware of the exercise There was a need for proper training at a different level. “I welcome the system but I am not satisfied with the sudden enforcement,” he said.
Had the civil servants been given at least one or two years, “it would have been convenient to adjust,” a senior civil servant shared adding “We are given work without providing tools.”
A civil servant from one of the ministries pointed out that it is important to learn from the systems of other countries but should be looked into if the system ally with one’s own system. There must be different experts for different fields. The civil servant pointed out that the experts were from the financial field.
It was shared that Bhutanese civil servants have been following what seniors or predecessors had been practicing. No formal training was provided by the Commission and it does not bear for any training. “RCSC’s role is to provide training.”
Meanwhile, a senior civil servant appreciated the moderation exercise down the line would go well though public servants may face difficulty in adjusting.
One of the young civil shared that one had to volunteer for PME from the department in one of the ministries. The young civil servant shared discontentment over the unfair moderation exercise.
However, a former civil servant, said there will always be complaints. “It is part of change management and resistance to change is always there.” He also added that there is no perfect system in the world to measure or assess PME. “The main issue seems to be the fact that some fall under ‘Partially Meeting Expectations’ etc. All human beings will differ in their caliber. We cannot say that two employees are equally good. There will always be one better than the other, in one way or the other.” According to him, there will be some who meet their expectations partially in some areas, even if they are good in others. “‘’Partially Meeting Expectations’ does not mean an employee is all nuts. It means he/she has the prospect for improvement and it is the responsibility of the RCSC to explain this to all civil servants. People will then understand.
Meanwhile, one of the officers shared his satisfaction after the moderation appreciating the system bringing a deserved rating.
This moderation process was conducted to ensure fairness and objectivity in the performance appraisal system as well as to provide feedback and guidance for development to civil servants in the executives and P1M category. The outstanding performers were recognized for their exceptional contributions and achievements, while those who met expectations were acknowledged for their satisfactory performance. The individuals who were partially meeting expectations were provided with specific areas of improvement to help them reach their full potential.
Overall, the moderation process serves as a tool for continuous improvement and development of civil servants in the executives and P1M category, which ultimately contributes to the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service.
According to the RCSC official, it is advisable for each agency to establish its own assessment criteria. In addition, the moderation team should guarantee transparency by disclosing the assessment criteria and committee members prior to the assessment.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu