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Tips for Improving Employee Performance Through Regular Performance Reviews

[ Practice Consulting, Leadership & Team Development, Human Resources ]

Performance feedback is one of the most important duties of a manager. In many cases, employers don’t give performance feedback at all or wait until a problem arises before providing it. By proactively managing employee performance from the beginning, you can avoid any possible legal or internal team issues. 

Should You Do Away with Annual Performance Reviews?

The traditional annual performance review is often the only way employers provide any performance feedback to their employees. The challenge is that this opportunity to positively engage with employees is one that companies ignore, or fail to use to their advantage. Conversely, many companies have begun using review processes and procedures that provide managers with ongoing and timely feedback on performance, rather than assessing performance annually. 

As a business owner, you may be looking for a better way to provide performance reviews in ways that are efficient, support talent development and align with your business objectives. The good news is there is such a method — one that looks forward, instead of focusing on the past. It is called an Employee Development Review.

With an Employee Development Review, you first identify the primary strengths of each of your employees. It may be stating the obvious, but all effective managers should know the primary strengths of their employees. If you have difficulty determining an employee’s strengths, he or she may not be well suited to your team. 

This review process can help you establish a match between an employee’s strengths and their job description and recognize, encourage, support, and develop these strengths over time to make that employee even more valuable. As part of the Employee Development Review process,  you should schedule time at least once a year to meet with each of your team members to go over the following five questions:

  1. Since your last review, what personal or professional improvements and goals have you made? 
  2. In the next six to twelve months, what are your personal or professional goals?
  3. Where do you see potential for growth and development (personally or professionally)?
  4. Is there a way our team can assist you in helping you grow and develop in this area? 
  5. As a team member, why do you think you are valuable?

Introducing constructive dialogue between an employee and their manager can be achieved through the use of these effective questions. Dialogues like these should have a positive tone and are ultimately less threatening than conventional performance reviews. Provide these five questions beforehand so the employee can think about them in advance of the discussion. Make sure the employee prepares meaningful responses to each of these questions. Ample time should be devoted to thoughtfully reflecting on the questions and answers. 


Addressing and Correcting Job Performance Issues as They Arise

In this entire process, it is key to address and correct job performance issues as they arise. When you become dissatisfied with the behavior or performance of an employee and take action to address it, your actions may include terminating that employee. If the employee is shocked by this action and was not counseled on it or claims that they were not counseled on it, then legal issues could arise. It doesn’t always happen, but the chances are certainly higher if you do not have an ongoing review process in place. In terminating an employee, you and your practice may lose someone who feels unfairly treated. At times, some owners and managers of dental practices we work with will admit to ignoring problem employees and suffering through legal issues after terminating them. By adopting an Employee Development Review process, and addressing performance problems as they arise, you are putting safeguards in place for your practice.


Providing Real-Time Feedback

The best managers provide a continuous feedback system that is more like coaching than any other form of evaluation. As their manager, you are responsible for overseeing their progress in terms of their performance and helping them correct poor performance so they can learn and grow in their job. 

Now is the time to encourage and provide your employees with developmental feedback, if you haven’t already done so. The forward-thinking review looks like this:

  • As a manager, you should provide real-time feedback on both positive and negative performance. When conducting “formal” performance reviews, your employees should not be told for the first time that they have performed well or need to improve unless you need to share new information or feedback.
  • Use communication skills that motivate and encourage rather than micromanage. Taking time out of your day to coach employees on what and how to improve is the most important thing you can do. 
  • Clearly explain and write down what the employee needs to understand and what is expected of them. In most cases, truly engaged employees will respond positively. 


Setting Goals

Regardless of how you structure your performance review process, setting goals is an important step. 

  • Every employee should know exactly what is expected of them and what goals they are expected to achieve. Job descriptions are an ideal place to start this discussion.
  • To ensure everyone understands the expectations of the job, job descriptions should be reviewed on a regular basis. By following this practice, misunderstandings about job expectations will be minimized or eliminated completely. 
  • The best way to update job descriptions is to ask the individuals performing the job to do it themselves. No one else knows the job like they do. 


Aligning the Positive and Negative Feedback

It can be difficult to balance the delivery of these equally important aspects of the review. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Spend time discussing both the positive aspects of an employee’s performance and the aspects that need improvement when meeting with them.
  • Note: If you can identify only a few positive qualities in an employee, you likely have an employee on your team who is not a good fit.    


Motivating through Positive Feedback

Feedback and suggestions for improvement are highly desired by your most productive employees. Here are ways to provide positive and valuable feedback:

  • Any performance discussion you have with an employee whose performance is above average or excellent should include positive feedback and insight about how he or she can continue to grow personally and professionally. 
  • Positive feedback for employees who need coaching or improvement is also important and should reinforce performance improvements. Employees who are struggling, but are sincerely attempting to improve and be better performers on your team, need to know their efforts are being recognized and applauded.
  • You will find that positive, reflective feedback motivates your employees. You may find it motivating too!


Practice Management Consulting Could Benefit Your Practice

Success in business depends on not settling for less than you need in employee performance. In addition, you should provide purposeful leadership and a vision for where and how you want your business to grow. Managing and owning a business means being very intentional about this.

At The Dental CFO, we work with practices all over the country who have implemented this new kind of performance review and have seen improvements as a result. We offer practice management consulting to better serve teams, practices, and owners. Don’t miss the mark with your performance reviews or otherwise. Schedule a consultation with one of our CFO-level experts and see how practice management consulting and our other services can benefit your practice. 

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