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5 Strategies for Improving the Staff Performance Review Process

Updated: Oct 27

On any given day, your calendar is filled with back-to-back appointments, follow-up calls, dozens of emails that need review, and any number of other tasks and duties. With such a hectic schedule, there’s little time to truly evaluate the performance of your employees. Sure, you can assess the general status of your practice as a whole, but the key to driving ongoing success lies in the nitty gritty details. 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 tips, tricks, and expert advice

How can you prepare ahead for staff performance reviews?

Ask employees to complete self-evaluations before the review, compare them with your assessments, and gather specific feedback for discussion.

How can you determine what motivates each employee during one-on-one reviews?

Ask open-ended questions to uncover each employee's "why" and individual motivations, tailoring performance drivers accordingly.

Why is it necessary to be clear about your expectations during performance reviews?

Clarifying expectations during performance reviews ensures employees understand their roles, accomplishments, areas for improvement, and future goals, fostering growth and success.

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

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