Make Annual Employee Reviews More Productive

The end of the year means time for annual employee reviews, a process many physicians and office managers dread. Don't do annual reviews? You might reconsider that policy; the annual review can provide you and your employees a valuable way to open communication channels and realign your shared focus.

Here are some tips for making annual reviews more productive:

  • Say why. Before you start performance review, identify your top reason for doing so. Is it to create an environment of teamwork? Clarify expectations? Meet a specific practice goal? Begin the review by explaining your intention. This will provide a shared framework for your discussion about the employee's performance (strengths and areas of improvement), goals, and measures of success.
  • Avoid surprises. If your employee is surprised by your feedback during the review, consider it a red flag that you have not clearly communicated your expectations throughout the year. You can avoid this situation by scheduling six-month reviews or even more frequent mini-reviews with employees to make minor performance or goal adjustments during the year.
  • Say what. Look at a review as an opportunity to guide your employees. If they are doing a great job, let them know, and tell them why. If their work is not up to standards, explain how they can make it better. Most people want to spend their time every day being useful and productive. Telling them what kind of behavior and results you value most will help them do that.
  • Be specific. Keep your feedback specific and detailed; focus only on directly observable behaviors so you can outline clear steps for improvement. Talking in generalizations only leaves your comments up to the employee's interpretation.
  • Listen. Reviews also are a time for you to listen. You might ask each employee to bring to the review two ideas for improving work flow or patient satisfaction, for example, or for making their specific job more efficient. Often, employees have the best ideas on how to improve practice operations and just need an opportunity to share their ideas. You also could ask employees to bring a list of their own accomplishments for the year. This can help you recognize good work you might have been unaware of, and give you some insight into each employee's particular strengths.

Be sure to document each employee's goals, development plan, steps for improvement, and/or reasons for discipline. Have the employee sign off on the evaluation, indicating that he or she received it in writing and understands what it says.

 

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