How To Handle Employee Performance Reviews

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Annual reviews can identify employees with management potential but also can identify one who needs probation or termination.
How To Handle Employee Performance Reviews
By Robi Garthwait, Contributing Editor

   The performance review can be a difficult proposition as there is a certain amount of dread and anticipation for both the employer and the employee. One must address the tricky issue of pay or salary. Performing a thorough performance review is also important from a legal perspective. For example, a fired employee may claim he or she was never told about a particular area of deficiency.

   There is a desire to cover all the relevant areas and issues in the performance review but some people have trouble being tactful and honest at the same time. A common mistake is being overly positive and sugarcoating mistakes or problem areas. However, being overly critical can also thwart your attempts to get employees to make improvements in certain areas.

   While it is tempting to think of the annual performance review as a one-time event, it is actually the culmination of a yearlong process of communication and documentation. As long as everyone is on the same page, it may not only be an informative experience but a generally positive one for all involved.

   Steven Peltz, CHBC, of the Brewster, N.Y.-based Peltz Management & Consulting Service, LLC, says employees want to feel as though they are meeting their employer’s expectations.

    “Many employees take a great deal of pride in their work and appreciate constructive feedback,” he says.

   Eric Espensen, DPM, believes regular performance reviews are important for monitoring the progress of his staff.

    “They help us keep the office moving in the right direction of our desired course of growth,” notes Dr. Espensen, the Director of the Providence Diabetic Foot Center in Burbank, Ca. “It also helps employees to know exactly what is expected of them.”

   Dr. Espensen says the information that emerges from performance reviews can often facilitate improved communication as well as improvements in office procedures and work flow.

    “By cultivating dialogue between the doctors and the employees, we have improved office efficiency by 20 percent in the billing/claims area,” points out Dr. Espensen.

Subtle Secrets To Reviewing Strengths And Weaknesses

   Performance reviews are indeed a necessary part of doing business, according to Lynn Homisak, PRT.

    “The purpose of a performance review is to give both the doctor and staff a sense of how they are doing and, just for the record, the staff wants to know how they are doing,” notes Homisak, a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management.

   If employees are doing a great job, let them know. Conversely, no one wants to waste his or her time doing a poor job, says Homisak.

    “If they are not meeting the standards of their job, (the review) is the perfect opportunity to explain how they can make it better,” she advises.

   Look at a review as an opportunity to guide an employee, not as a time to reprimand or scold the staff member. There are a number of subtle things one can do to help facilitate an effective performance review.

    “Remember to critique the employee’s behavior, not him or her personally,” points out Homisak, a longtime podiatric medical assistant and current office manager in a busy podiatry practice in Sammamish, Wa.

   She says it also important to remember not to focus solely on areas where the employee needs to improve. Homisak says the review is the perfect time to acknowledge the employee’s effort and motivate him or her to do more.

    “Offering a genuine thank you for things they think go unnoticed can change an attitude completely,” notes Homisak, a team partner and practice management consultant with SOS Healthcare Management Solutions, LLC.

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