One essential element to managing a successful business (and, yes, a practice is a business) is regularly evaluating staff. Usually conducted on an annual basis, the employee evaluation (aka, performance appraisal) lets each member of the team know how they’re doing – where they excel and in what areas they need to improve – and it gives you, the manager or physician in charge of staffing, an opportunity to objectively consider each employee’s value to the practice.
If you don’t already have a written policy about when and how employee evaluations are conducted, create one now and make it part of your employee manual. Decide if new employees will be evaluated after 60, 90, or 120 days and whether, thereafter, each person will be assessed on their anniversary date or if all evaluations will be done at a certain point in the year. Either way is fine, as long as you’re consistent.
When evaluations are due, make time to do them. There is nothing more frustrating for an employee than to watch their evaluation date come and go with no action taken. It puts them in the uncomfortable situation of having to remind a manager to do their job and it’s especially delicate if raises are tied to evaluations. If you give salary increases based on the outcome of evaluations and the process is delayed for one reason or another, any increase awarded should be paid retroactive to the date the evaluation was originally due.
It is important to have a standard evaluation form so that every staff member is assessed based on the same criteria (taking into account their position and job description, of course). A blank copy of your form should be an addendum to your policy and included in the employee manual so that everyone knows what they are being evaluated upon.
What is included on a performance appraisal form will vary from practice to practice. Here are some categories to consider:
- Abiding by practice standards and policies
- Customer service
- Technical skills
- Communication skills
Score each area (and any sub-categories that you choose to include) as follows: (1) exceeds expectation; (2) meets expectation; (3) needs improvement; (4) does not meet expectation. Use “exceeds” sparingly and let employees know that “meets” is a good score. In any area that “needs improvement” be specific about what needs to change to bring that score up to “meets expectation.” If an employee scores “does not meet” in more than one or two areas and does not improve their performance in fairly short order once the issue is pointed out to them, consider whether or not you should keep that person on.