How to Conduct Effective Performance Reviews

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5 Tips for Effective Performance Reviews in Healthcare

As a manager you can probably cast your mind back to a time not all that long ago, before you had more junior staff answering directly to you, when you were subject to annual performance reviews. We’ve all been there before and for some people, the performance review experience can be confronting and awkward or in the worst cases, they can even descend into conflict – although that’s quite a rare occurrence!

As a manager in a medical setting with highly skilled and qualified medical professionals working under your supervision, professionalism and a diplomatic approach tend to be the order of the day, making these reviews somewhat easier to conduct. After all, you both have the health and wellbeing of other human lives in your hands, requiring teamwork and cooperation to achieve good results.

With the key aim of annual reviews being to assess a staff member’s performance against agreed goals, whilst identifying strategies to help improve their day-to-day effectiveness in their role, managers must balance direct honesty with the need to boost motivation and encourage ongoing improvement.

Thankfully, decades of acquired experience and research from the brightest minds in HR and Psychology have yielded these five practical tips for effectively conducting performance reviews whilst avoiding unnecessary workplace drama.  

5 Tips for Effective Performance Reviews in Healthcare

Tip #1 – Hold Staff Performance Reviews Regularly

Our first tip for conducting effective performance reviews is to hold them regularly, with this point being especially important in the field of health care where new treatments and medications can enter common use in a matter of weeks.

Ideally, you should host this meeting with your staff once every quarter or 3 months, although they are most often held once every 6 months – with the first meeting being to set goals for the year and the second, to review progress against those goals.

Hosting these reviews regularly will not only allow both parties to keep abreast of any developments in healthcare but also to nip any issues ‘in the bud’ which may negatively affect employee performance and patient care.

Tip #2 – Allow Staff to Reflect & Prepare

Like most things in life, preparation is the key to conducting a successful employee performance review.

With doctors and medical staff used to completing reams of paperwork as part of their day-to-day duties, giving them a clearly-formatted, easy-to-understand reflective form organised into key criteria prior to their review will ensure they come to the meeting well prepared and with plenty of talking points.

Giving staff time to reflect on their own performance and specific clinical decisions can also take the emotion out of the meeting, avoiding conflict and leading to a more effective two-way conversation.

Tip #3 – Discuss Each Criteria One by One with Your Staff

Now for the pointy end of performance reviews, the actual review meeting itself.

Having given your employees ideally a few days to carefully reflect upon their on-the-job performance and their success (or otherwise) in meeting specific criteria, your role as a manager will be to lead discussion on each criteria – making detailed notes as you proceed.

This discussion is also your time to tactfully yet directly raise any concerns you have surrounding poor employee performance or workplace behaviour whilst highlighting any positive results or patient outcomes they have achieved.

Tip #4 – Involve Staff in the Discussion

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to directly involve your employees in the discussion at their performance review meeting, for quite obvious reasons.

Getting direct feedback from staff on their own performance is crucial to understanding why they’ve behaved in a particular manner and in a healthcare context, why they’ve made the specific clinical decisions they did.

Engaging in a conversation as opposed to a one-way interrogation will also help your staff “open up” to you by fostering a greater sense of trust and rapport which will ultimately aid you in boosting their morale, on-the-job performance and ultimately the effectiveness of your entire team.

Tip #5 – End the Meeting on a Positive, Practical Note

Last but not least it’s important to end the performance review meeting on a positive and practical note which gives your employee’s a sense of having been properly listened to and their concerns taken seriously.

Ideally you should also ensure the meeting ends with you having identified specific measures that can be put in place in a timely manner to improve their clinical performance, their level of patient care and lead to an overall more positive working environment for all staff.