PROACTIVE PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Reviews. I hate doing them; and they're time consuming. Are they really
necessary? If so, how do I conduct a meaningful performance
Yes, they're really necessary. And conducting meaningful reviews are not difficult when properly planned and orchestrated.
But before we get started on the subject matter, let's go back to when the employee was first hired. A quick review of the steps to ensure a proper hire are to (1) request a resume with cover letter, (2) have the potential employee complete a thorough employment application and sign it, (3) conduct a brief preliminary interview to collect these items and to get to know the applicant. After the interview, research past work history of the employee by comparing time lines on the resume with the time lines on the employment application; but sure they are consistent. Contact previous employers and ask them the following questions to corroborate the applicant's information; and be sure to ask to speak to the doctor, or owner of the practice!
Confirm with the application and resume that the dates of employment match up; look for consistency in date ranges and identify any gaps in employment. For example, if the potential employee provided information showing he or she worked from January 2008 until February 2010, yet the previous employer shows dates worked from January 2008 through March 2009, make note and prepare to ask the potential employee about the discrepancy in employment time lines.
Rate of pay is important since you may be interviewing a candidate who is outside your normal range of pay for the position. And, the candidate may claim a higher rate of pay from previous employment to leverage better pay.
The reference may be reluctant to provide any information that may damage the candidates' ability to seek and acquire employment. Although, some states have passed laws that require a person must show "clear and convincing evidence" that the former employer acted in bad faith in providing job-related information. Ask the above questions confidently as they are standard and safe; and wait for responses that will help lead to a decision to hire or not.
In addition to the steps discussed here, an employer may find that conducting a background check of an individual, going beyond a friendly recommendation for hire from a colleague or other respected source. To be too trusting can be a detriment. Embezzlement and fraud in dentistry is rampant; careful hiring starts at the onset.
Once you have an employee in place, performance evaluations are a necessary management tool that will help people achieve and even exceed their potential. It also is the stronghold for an employer to keep tabs on business operations and essential in helping employees realize strengths as well as their shortcomings in order to improve performance. When orchestrated properly, these evaluations are powerful developmental tools.
The following will help guide doctors through a simple performance evaluation in order to gain the most positive experiences for themselves and their employees as well.
The evaluation assesses performance on a yearly basis, but there should be a plan set in place for the day-to-day process as well. This assessment would be applicable for any employee; new or established, especially when people are hired under the right circumstances. Best employment practices follow a standard for other employees to realize this is necessary for their continued employment.
This may feel unnerving to the new employee, but it helps keep expectations high, in the same way as keeping an existing employee from not becoming complacent. Therefore, for new employees, provide an evaluation at the end of a 90-day orientation period; yearly for the established employee. Both doctor and employee will come to the meeting with their ideas on performance thus far and ways to improve performance; usually this information is in the form of a templated employee review form.
If an event occurs that requires immediate attention, don't wait for the scheduled "Performance Review" to discuss this situation; address it immediately. If this is a repeat offense, the disciplinary process must be instituted. This process should be followed exactly as your Employee Manual specifies; usually an anecdotal write-up that a formal verbal discussion was held, including the employee behaviors and recommendations for correction that were discussed. If problems continue, a formal report listing documented incidents, recommended solutions, and disciplinary actions set forth should be made and become part of the permanent employee file. This report must be reviewed and signed by both employer and employee. When documenting employee behaviors, be certain that you remain objective. Never contain subjective documentation.
For a subjective example; 'Julie seemed aggravated and snapped at a patient'. An objective example; 'Julie stated "You have to sign this" pushed papers across the console quickly toward the patient and left the room. Upon leaving the office, the patient exclaimed, "Wow, that was rude!"'
In addition to documenting objectively, make sure that the date, time, and patient initials are included so that during the performance review or disciplinary process the facts are clear.
the evaluation as part of an ongoing process, rather than a solitary
anecdotal notes during the period.
Have available the date, time, and specific issue or behavior that occurred. Here is an example of an incorrect note:
Here is an example of a correct note:
the relationship and specific job duties; not the paper evaluation form.
the meeting in advance; provide a blank copy of the evaluation.
Let enough time pass before the evaluation for both the employee and doctor to assemble their information; usually a week will suffice. Be punctual! It sends the wrong message to employees when performance reviews are late or cancelled.
objective; "Just the Facts"; listen carefully.
This part of the session is the most important part of the evaluation. Again, it is extremely important to view issues objectively with evidence.
Eventually, the employment review will end with the two performance evaluations signed by both parties. An action plan agreed upon by the employer and employee that will help the employee improve performance and focus on the future goals of the practice must accompany the signed documents.
Both the employee and employer must sign and date the evaluation. This will become a permanent part of the employee's personnel file. At this time, introduce a merit increase, if applicable, or bonus for exemplary performance. Remember that the act of conducting a performance review does not imply a merit increase or bonus.
Performance evaluations can be stressful. And, some people shy away from this important personnel management tool in order to avoid confrontation. The evaluation must be truthful; otherwise if a problem employee is dismissed and all evaluations showed good quality performance, the disgruntled employee might find justification in pursuing legal action because of wrongful termination.
Use these tips to become more proactive in handling performance reviews, and create an environment that reduces stress during the evaluation. Continue to work on ways that will enhance people and practice performance.