AUTHOR: Tim S. Norris, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CHBC
October 10, 2023
The workforce management world was rocked when two major U.S. employers, Accenture and GE, announced that they would abolish annual performance reviews for their employees. The dreaded yearly reviews were replaced with systems and procedures that provide consistent and timely performance feedback from managers.
But these organizations weren’t the only ones to swap annual reviews with ongoing coaching and feedback. In fact, nearly 10% of Fortune 500 companies have already abandoned annual reviews for their employees, according to The Washington Post.
Why? More than 90% of academic studies have shown that once-a-year reviews and appraisals are ineffective.
This begs the question: If annual performance reviews have fallen out of favor and are potentially ineffective, what is the best way for dental practice owners to provide job performance feedback for employees?
Keep reading to learn hygienist and dental front office performance evaluation tips to keep your practice running smoothly.
7 Dental Office Review Tips to Create a Positive Experience for You and Your Staff
Outright replacement of your performance review process may not be the right option for your practice. But it’s likely that you can improve your process significantly. Here are our top tips.
1. Understand Employees’ Goals and Responsibilities
It’s imperative that employees know exactly what is expected of their performance and the key performance indicators for dental offices they’re expected to achieve. The starting point for this discussion is to refer to employees’ job descriptions.
Always make certain that your practice’s job descriptions are up-to-date and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that each staff member understands them. This will help minimize or even eliminate misunderstandings about what the job expectations actually are.
2. Know That Reviews Aren’t Just an Annual Event
Research indicates that the most effective performance review meetings are scheduled quarterly with employees.
Similarly, the most effective managers actually “coach” employees and their performance by providing real-time feedback. This will require a level of communication skills that are seen as motivating and positive rather than micromanaging.
3. Discuss “Wins” and Areas for Improvement Regularly
Your staff should never hear about performance — positive or negative — for the first time at your “formal” review meetings unless it’s new information or insight to be shared.
Lines of communication about performance should always be open to ensure your team is constantly receiving feedback to improve their work.
In most cases, the discussion of the positive aspects of an employee’s job performance should take up more time than any negative aspects. Encouraging your employees will help boost morale and allow them to truly feel at ease within your team.
If you don’t find this to be the case with an employee, you may have someone on your team who does not belong there.
4. Avoid the “Horns and Halo” Effect
Try to avoid what is known as a “horns and halo effect,” in which everything discussed in the performance review meeting is focused on recent negative and positive performance incidents.
In other words, be sure to focus on the “big picture” related to your employee’s performance, as it has occurred since the last review meeting. Explain how they can improve to complete the big picture and how their individual contributions will complete the practice’s goals.
5. Never Go Into a Performance Review Without Preparation
If you wing it, your employee can tell, and it will be a major de-motivator for both of you.
Be sure to take the time to prepare and make this valuable interaction with your staff a positive one. Even if negative performance issues are discussed, you can still make the review a productive and positive experience for everyone involved.
In fact, this can be a great opportunity to enhance relationships and build trust among your staff. If your sincere intention is to help the employee improve, a potentially difficult conversation can be easier and more effective for both of you.
6. Provide Dental Office Employee Review Forms Ahead of Time
If your practice uses dental staff performance evaluation forms, be sure to give copies to your staff a few days before their reviews. Encourage employees to complete the forms themselves and bring them to their meetings.
It also helps to ask employees to think about and be prepared to identify personal and professional goals they would like to achieve. The starting point for this discussion is to identify ways they could become more valuable for the practice. This will certainly foster higher levels of preparation and likely result in more meaningful and effective discussions.
Keep in mind that the majority of ideas related to identifying personal and professional goals should come from the employee. This will help ensure their ownership of the goals and personal commitment to their achievement.
Keep scrolling to access a free dental employee evaluation form template.
7. Don’t Neglect Your High-Performing Employees
When you think about performance reviews, what comes to mind first? Maybe it’s addressing issues among staff members who are struggling. If so, don’t forget that your high-performing employees deserve a comprehensive and thoughtful review as well.
For your high-achievers, spend most of their review providing positive feedback and discussing how they can continue to develop personally and professionally. The employee will find this type of feedback rewarding and motivating to continue giving your practice their best work — and you very likely will as well.
Dental Office Review Template
In need of additional guidance for your review process? Check out our dental employee review template and other helpful tips for handling the dreaded staff performance reviews.
For one-on-one help, reach out to our team. We have over 50 years of experience in the human resources space and would be glad to help you achieve peace of mind.