top of page

5 Strategies for Improving the Staff Performance Review Process

Updated: Apr 12

With a schedule packed with appointments, calls, and emails, finding time for thorough evaluations can be challenging. Yet, for the sustained success of your practice, delving into the details is crucial. This underscores the importance of dedicating time to the staff performance review process in your veterinary practice. Conducting one-on-one reviews allows for a focused assessment beyond the general practice status, ensuring attention to the finer points of employee performance essential for driving improvement and achieving long-term goals. That’s why it’s so important that you make time for one-on-one performance reviews.

The fact is, reviewing staff performance has been linked to improved practice workflow. It’s also been proven to boost employee morale, which can lead to higher retention rates. Done properly, practice owners can uncover additional talent and reveal useful feedback that can be used to further improve overall business performance.

But, who’s got the time or energy to do all that? While it may seem mundane and sometimes even overwhelming, there are ways that you can approach the performance review process to make it more efficient and effective for everyone. Let’s take a look.

Prepare Ahead

The key to successful performance reviews is preparation. Ask your employees to complete their own self-evaluations which include their strengths, challenges, goals and achievements. These assessments will serve as a starting point for the review process and, as such, should be completed and submitted to you several days prior to your scheduled one-on-one meeting with each employee.

Then, set aside some time to go over the self-evaluations and compare them to your own assessments to identify any differences that should be addressed. Jot down any specific feedback you have and use these documents as a guide to keep your meetings on track.

Be Specific

It may take a bit more time on the front-end to document your specific feedback for each employee, but doing so will eliminate confusion and ambiguity, which can delay and drag out the review process. Additionally, by putting in the effort to tailor each review, you’ll demonstrate to your employees that you view them as individuals and that their talents and contributions have not gone unnoticed.

It should be noted that, for the most part, staff reviews should be focused primarily on the positive aspects of your employees’ performance. That being said, areas that require improvement should also be addressed. Be forthcoming about where you’d like to see your team members try harder and, if necessary, provide guidance and next steps. Again, come prepared and be as specific as possible.

Figure Out Their “Why”

Different things motivate different people. For some, monetary rewards are important while others may be perfectly satisfied being recognized in front of the team for their efforts. Don’t just assume that everyone who works for you is driven by the same factors. Sure, they all love animals and want to have an impact on the life of pets, but beyond this, you should also use one-on-one reviews as an opportunity to determine what each employee’s purpose is. To do this, ask open-ended questions and dig deep. By uncovering what each team member’s “why” is, you can better tailor your performance drivers.

You can also use this time to find out what responsibilities your employees are passionate about and allocate their future workload accordingly. This can do wonders for staff morale, which means longer tenure and lower overall costs for you.

Be Clear About Your Expectations

Use employee review meetings as a chance to clarify what role each team member plays within the practice. If you haven’t gone over specific responsibilities and expectations since the job interview, you may wish to update the job description. This can help you determine what’s been accomplished since the employee was hired (or since your last meeting) and also identify areas that may still need some improvement.

While performance reviews typically focus on the past, one-on-one meetings are also a great opportunity to plan for the future. You should come to the table with specific goals and metrics that you’d like your employees to strive for. You can also ask them to include their own objectives.

Don’t Get Caught Up in Formalities

You’re busy. We get it. But if you approach staff reviews like a robot, churning out feedback and ushering each team member in and out of the office as quickly as possible, you’ll miss the mark. Performance reviews are most effective when they are treated as a two-way conversation. As such, you should not only deliver feedback to your employees, but also request feedback from them as well. Be open to negative comments and welcome constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve your practice culture and performance.

Staff reviews may seem like just another item weighing down your to-do list, but they are a necessary evil. The list above should help you streamline the process so that it’s an effective use of your time and will contribute to the overall success of your practice.

Our Advice on Strategies for Improving the Staff Performance Review Process in 2024

How can practice owners prepare effectively for performance reviews?

Practice owners can prepare effectively for performance reviews by implementing a structured approach. Start with requesting employees to complete self-evaluations covering their strengths, challenges, goals, and achievements prior to the review meeting. This pre-work encourages self-reflection and sets a foundation for the discussion. Owners should then review these self-assessments, comparing them to their own observations to identify any discrepancies or areas of alignment. Preparation also involves documenting specific feedback for each employee, tailoring the review to acknowledge individual contributions while addressing areas for improvement. This thorough preparation ensures a focused, constructive, and personalized review process.

How often should performance reviews be conducted?

Performance reviews in a veterinary practice should ideally be conducted on a semi-annual basis. This frequency allows for timely feedback and recognition of employee contributions, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and engagement. Additionally, conducting reviews every six months helps to identify and address areas for development early on, aligning individual goals with the practice's objectives. It also provides a structured opportunity to adjust roles and responsibilities as needed, ensuring that the team remains motivated and productivity stays high. Semi-annual reviews strike a balance between providing regular feedback and allowing enough time for employees to show progress and development.

What are effective strategies for addressing significant performance issues in a way that's constructive and motivating?

Effective strategies for addressing significant performance issues constructively include starting with a private, one-on-one conversation to ensure the employee feels respected and heard. Clearly outline the performance discrepancies, referencing specific examples, and compare them against the expected standards. Engage the employee in creating a tailored improvement plan, setting clear, achievable goals with set timelines for reassessment. Offer support through resources, training, or mentorship to aid their development. Throughout the process, emphasize growth and learning, rather than punishment, to motivate and encourage the employee towards positive change, reinforcing their value to the team.

How should practices ensure that the goals and action items discussed in the review are actually followed through on?

Practices should ensure that goals and action items from reviews are followed through by setting clear, measurable objectives and establishing regular check-ins to monitor progress. It’s crucial to document these goals and the steps needed to achieve them during the review process. Assign a specific timeline for each action item, making it easier to track advancements or identify areas needing additional support. Encourage open communication, allowing employees to share updates, challenges, or adjustments to their goals. This structured follow-up fosters accountability and supports continuous development, ensuring the implementation of review discussions into actionable results.

Can performance management software or online tools streamline the review process for busy practices?

Yes, performance management software and online tools can significantly streamline the review process for busy veterinary practices. These tools offer a centralized platform for documenting reviews, setting and tracking goals, and scheduling regular check-ins. They can facilitate seamless communication between managers and staff, encourage ongoing feedback, and help maintain a consistent record of performance metrics and progress over time. By automating administrative tasks and organizing data, these digital solutions enable practices to focus more on the substance of the reviews, ensuring a more efficient, transparent, and effective performance management process.

Want more practice management tips and tricks? Bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh, relevant content.

What's it like to be a
DVM Elite Member?

Hear from Practice Owners
in our community
Dr. Diana is blown away
Dr. Randy & Beth are transformed
Dr. Leslie can't quite believe it

Dr. Cathie
DVM - Wisconsin

December new clients up 28% over last year!


Dr. Peter achieved time freedom while increasing productivity by implementing the DVM Elite system.


Dr. Laura created a happy and healthy company team and culture through the DVM Elite Dream Team.

randy and beth.png

Beth and Randy were able to maximize their room workflow and productivity for greater profitability.


Dr. Leslie was able to increase her profitability through DVM Elite's Key Strategies.

We do it ALL!


bottom of page