The quest for a small, tight, and efficient civil service is an admirable goal, but we must acknowledge the challenges we face in achieving this vision. The current discontent among civil servants towards the managing for excellence programme, based on the outdated bell curve performance management system, highlights the need for a meaningful, fair, and progressive performance evaluation system. It is imperative that we address both the issues of implementation and acceptance to truly transform our civil service into a powerhouse of efficiency and excellence.

Experts argue that the bell curve is no longer an accurate tool for measuring employee performance. This rigid system fails to consider individual differences and unique circumstances, leading to demotivation, unfair comparisons, and a lack of recognition for exceptional performers. It undermines the principles of meritocracy, discouraging innovation and personal growth. A more comprehensive and flexible approach is necessary to accurately assess the diverse talents and contributions of our civil servants.

To address the concerns of civil servants and foster a fair system of performance management, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) must lead the way. The RCSC should establish an inclusive process that involves soliciting feedback and input from civil servants at all levels. This participatory approach will not only help identify the shortcomings of the current system but also create a sense of ownership and commitment towards the proposed changes.

While it is the responsibility of the RCSC to design and implement a fair system, it is equally important for civil servants to embrace change. Change can be unsettling, but it is vital for progress. By encouraging a growth mindset, where individuals are motivated to continuously improve their skills and contribute to the larger organisational goals, we can build a culture that values excellence and fosters innovation. To facilitate this, the RCSC should provide resources for professional development, mentoring programmes, and opportunities for cross-functional collaboration.

A meaningful performance evaluation system requires transparency and continuous feedback. Civil servants should be provided with clear performance expectations and objectives, ensuring they have a clear understanding of how their contributions align with organisational goals. Regular feedback sessions should replace the traditional annual reviews, allowing for ongoing dialogue and support for improvement. This approach not only encourages accountability but also provides an opportunity to recognise and reward exceptional performance promptly.

To accurately assess performance, the evaluation criteria should extend beyond quantitative metrics to include qualitative factors. A progressive system should consider individual responsibilities, collaboration and teamwork, adaptability to change, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. By recognising the multifaceted nature of civil service roles, we can incentivise a broader range of skills and encourage a diverse workforce.

The journey towards a small and efficient civil service requires us to overcome the challenges posed by the current performance evaluation systems. By developing a meaningful, fair, and progressive performance evaluation system, we can empower our civil servants, promote a culture of excellence, and foster innovation.