The annual performance review can be dreaded by both employee and employer. Annual reviews, in particular, can be seen as perfunctory and backward-looking. In a busy veterinary hospital, it is not uncommon for reviews to fall by the wayside altogether leaving the associate or staff member with no understanding of their level of job performance or integration into the hospital’s mission, vision and core values. If the role of annual reviews has devolved into simply checking off some compliance boxes on a sheet, perhaps it is time to reevaluate the purpose and practicality of reviews in your hospital?
If the once a year mound of annual review paperwork is bogging you down, consider changing to frequent, brief, substantive feedback or mini “check-ins”. Real-time feedback can be more substantive and can be future oriented. This can be as simple as sitting down with an employee for five minutes when they do something positive for the hospital – a client or staff member interaction, an extra touch of TLC for a patient, or catching an error that could have resulted in harm to a patient or the practice. These little opportunities for positive feedback can be immensely appreciated and motivating for team members. Good employees like to know how they are doing especially when it is doing something right! Conversely, when an employee is not performing at the desired level or acts inappropriately or unprofessionally, waiting for an annual review to address such behavior can be damaging to the morale of other team members as well as delay the opportunity to inspire change in an employee with performance issues. Problems are typically managed most effectively when they are addressed quickly.
Consider setting a goal of four to five mini-check ins per year with each staff member and reserve one meeting for focusing on goals the team member and the practice would like to accomplish in the next year. Change the traditional annual review conversation from “what do I think of this individual” to “what should I do with this individual to help them grow and assess if they are in alignment with the practice’s values”. Regular conversations about performance and development change the focus from holding people accountable for past behaviors at the expense of improving current performance to setting mutual goals with each staff member based on a relationship built throughout the year. This will allow the hospital to build the team your practice needs to be competitive and successful as you take on the challenges of the future together.
Meghan Wood, VMD
Hospital Administrator & Emergency Clinician