Author: Yiu, Tim
Title: Assessing performance appraisal system in two non-governmental organizations' casework settings (Medical Social Services Unit & Family ServicesCentre) in Hong Kong : in-depth qualitative interviews with frontline staff (Assistant Social Work Officers)
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1999
Subject: Social workers -- Rating of -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Studies
Pages: v, 121 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: The main purpose of this study is to explore the perception of frontline caseworkers (ASWOs) towards performance appraisal system in two casework settings of NGO in Hong Kong. In social welfare organizations, the performance appraisal system is regarded as a crucial and effective means to provide "useful feedback" to all supervisees, reflecting how their supervisors evaluate their performance. Harkness's and Mulinski's (1988) research studying the views of frontline social workers and their supervisors towards job performance, found that there were significant differences between the social workers and supervisors towards the standard of performance. Hence, it naturally assumes that disputes might exist between social workers and their supervisors over the assessment standards and the performance indicators in appraisal system. The findings of this qualitative study revealed that majority of respondents pointed out the problems in the appraisal system such as unclear assessment standard, tensed relationship, lower staff participation, imposed systematic judgements, and lack of full supervisory functions. In the selected MSSU, the format of appraisal report for social workers is same as those allied health professional in hospital. Therefore the coverage is too general and comprehensive. The performance assessment standards are not tailor-made for social work practitioners. It limits the specific and accurate assessment of staff's total capabilities of past 1 year. Besides that, the second manager and countersigning managers who are administrators, tend to believe the comments of appraisers rather then those of appraisees. Therefore, it weakens the check-and-balance system of this appraisal system. In the selected FSC, the power of supervisor was said to be supreme in the appraisal system because there is a lack of a countersigning officer. The completed appraisal report will be directly passed to the agency head. Such establishment weakens the creditability of the appraisal comments to an extent that the frontline staff easily doubt the level of objectivity of the whole appraisal system. The coverage of performance assessment standards focuses on the behavioral measurements and general capabilities rather than assessing staff's competence in social work practice. Furthermore, there are just two grades, Social Work Officers and Assistant Social Work Officers, in the field of this agency. Lack of upward mobility limits most of staff's vision on the functions of appraisal system. It is also one of the causes leading to staffs doubt on the creditability of appraisal system. By this research study, I could know more about the frontline staff's discontect and its underlying causes. Thereafter, I can have better understanding on the root causes of their dissatisifaction. Such findings provide a ground for further discussion and study on the appraisal system in social work field. In doing so, it is hoped that both field supervisors and frontline staff will try to narrow down their different views and improve the existing appraisal system with the united efforts.

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