Perception of performance appraisal of academic staff in a chartered private University in Uganda
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Performance appraisal (PA) is key in functional higher education institutions for enhancing employee productivity and institutional success. However, how favourably employees perceive their PA is equally very important. In this study, while being guided by the three dimensions (distributive, procedural & interactional) of organisational justice theory advanced by Greenberg in 1986, I explored the perception of PA held by the academic staff in a chartered private university in Uganda. The study was instigated by the persistent complaints from a section of staff over irregularities of PA exercise in this University. Using a qualitative research methodology, I collected primary data mainly through in-depth interviews from purposively selected academic staff, some of whom were academic deans. For ethical reasons, I concealed the identity of the University I studied and the study participants. I analysed the data by using the framework analysis technique and reported the study findings using a narrative style of thick descriptions. The findings revealed that most members of the academic staff perceive that PA benefits the staff and the University, but some were disappointed by the way the outcomes were distributed. Some staff did not perceive their PA process to be fair partly because they were not fully involved in it. The staff had different perceptions of their interactions with their appraisers during PA. To be satisfied with the appraisal exercise, the staff preferred interactions with appraisers whose communications were clear and connected to their individual and institutional goals. Overall, the staff did not perceive their PA practice to be a fair and consistent measure of their actual performance due to irregularities in it. Nonetheless, the unfairness in the PA practice seemed to contradict the Christian faith that the University proclaims as its foundation. I concluded that the academic staff at the University I studied held varied perceptions of PA. I thus recommended that the university managers should not only train the academic staff in the conduct of PA but also design an appraisal programme that builds a perception of fairness among them. To sum up, the University should institute an appraisal exercise that befits its Christian beliefs.