NA adopts the motion to do away with forced Need improvement rating in civil service

TASHI LHAMO

Thimphu

The National Assembly adopted the motion to do away with the need improvement rating as per the Managing for Excellence (MaX) System within the civil service on 26 June at the ongoing session.

Moving the motion the Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee, Lhakpa Tshering Tamang, presented a motion urging a thorough examination of the Managing for Excellence (MaX) System employed within the civil service. This proposal seeks to initiate a detailed assessment to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement within the system.

“This system has eroded trust and morale, fostering disharmony and negative work culture “, he said.

The deputy chairperson supported the motion, and he said that a formal inquiry into the MaX system, intended to foster greater efficiency in governmental practices was carried out.

The chairperson articulated that the implementation of the MaX moderation system has significantly impacted the morale and motivation of civil servants. He highlighted a notable 35.49% attrition rate observed within the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD), coupled with approximately 8,146 resignations across various civil service sectors from 2022 through April 2024.

The chairperson expressed deep concerns about the correlations between these high attrition figures and several factors, including the effects of MaX moderation system itself. Moreover, he also stated that issues such as inadequate leadership, limited opportunities for advancement, substandard working conditions, and burdensome workloads as contributing factors to the observed discontent among civil servants.

In addition to his previous remarks, the member highlighted concerns regarding the Managing for Excellence (MaX) system, particularly its implementation of forced ranking across categories such as exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, and partially meeting expectations. He addressed that this approach has exacerbated existing issues by eroding trust and fostering a negative workplace atmosphere.

Civil servants have reportedly experienced heightened levels of insecurity, stress, and tension as a result, which not only jeopardizes institutional health but also impacts national well-being. Moreover, the member drew attention to specific challenges within the education sector, where heavy workloads for teachers, inadequate leadership structures, and prolonged rural assignments have collectively contributed to a compromised educational system. These factors have not only strained the morale and performance of educators but have also diminished the overall effectiveness of educational initiatives aimed at national development.

In essence, the member’s comprehensive assessment illuminated the multifaceted repercussions of the MaX system and associated issues within the civil service and education sectors. His observations targeted the urgent need for strategic reforms to address systemic deficiencies and restore a conducive work environment conducive to sustainable professional growth and national advancement.

On the other hand, Education Minister Yeezang Dee Thapa articulated a firm stance on the inadequacies of the bell curve model within the Performance Management Systems (PMS), asserting its outdated nature in the contemporary landscape. She specifically stated the detrimental impact of the “Partially Meets Expectation” (PME) Forced Ranking system, citing instances where it has endangered disputes and nurtured unhealthy competition among civil servants.

In alignment with these sentiments, members of the assembly collectively acknowledged the imperative of implementing the MaX moderation and Individual Work Progress (IWP) frameworks. However, they voiced unanimous concern over the persisting issues stemming from the Partially Meets Expectation” (PME) Forced Ranking system. They called upon the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) to critically review and potentially overhaul this system, which has emerged as a significant catalyst for widespread demotivation and a notable surge in resignations within the civil service ranks.

Members stressed that while reforms such as MaX moderation and IWP are essential for enhancing accountability and performance evaluation, addressing the flaws in the PME Forced Ranking system is equally crucial. They emphasized the urgent need for structural changes that promote fairness, transparency, and a supportive work environment conducive to sustained professional engagement and advancement within the civil service. This collective perspective accentuates a concerted effort toward fostering a revitalized and effective governance framework aimed at bolstering institutional morale and achieving broader national development goals.

The House overwhelmingly supported these recommendations and mandated the committee to consolidate these recommendations into a unified and comprehensive directive. The finalized motion, is now set to be communicated to the Prime Minister’s Office for immediate action.

“The Prime Minister, in collaboration with the Royal Civil Service Commission, is tasked with reviewing the MaX System utilized within the Civil Service, and eliminating the Bell-Curve methodology currently employed for evaluating the performance ratings of civil servants.”

Ugyen Tshewang, a teacher said, “The decision of doing away with forced Need improvement rating in civil service is a positive step forward as it promotes a healthier work environment by alleviating stress and anxiety among employees, the focus can shift towards constructive feedback and personal growth rather than arbitrary comparisons”.

Similarly, Karma Wangmo, a nurse at Central Referral Hospital in Gelephu shared “Many of my friends and I also am content with this decision because there would be fairness and equity within the civil service and it would also prevent biases that may arise from rigid rating system which will help in enhancing accountability and fairness hereafter”

This revised recommendation accentuates the House’s resolve to initiate critical reforms aimed at enhancing the effectiveness and fairness of performance evaluation systems within the civil service. It reflects a unified effort to address concerns raised regarding the existing evaluation methodologies, emphasizing the importance of fostering a conducive and supportive work environment for civil servants across various sectors. The directive signals a proactive approach towards improving governance and ensuring alignment with contemporary standards of performance management within the public sector.

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