I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest stressors for a lot of people around this time of year is performance reviews. You’re either giving them or receiving them, sometimes both. Or maybe you are wishing you would get one so you know more about where you stand. As a boss, this can be a really tough time. But there is hope.
If your facility is accredited, you are required to give performance evaluations to your patient care staff based on objective data. Hey, that might make things easier!
We stress about performance reviews mostly because judging people to their face is hard, especially if you have a relationship with them that you want to maintain. So what can we do to make it a little less painful? Remove the emotion. Be as objective as possible so you are dealing with undeniable facts, not feelings. And don’t say, “It’s a fact, I don’t feel like you are pulling your weight around here!” You need to say something like, “We agreed you would come to work five days a week, remember? Here is the card you signed. But I only see you around on the second Monday of each month.”
See the difference? In the first case, the employee can say, “Well, I think I do pull my weight.” And now you are at a stalemate. But in the second case, the employee might say “Well, I come around on Thursdays too!” And you can say, “Show me data that proves you were here working.”
Depending on the data, you can adjust your evaluation, or you can be validated in your belief, but either way, you are looking at something objective, not personal.
A terrific way to keep your performance evaluations objective is to refer back to the job description you wrote. Remember the one that is tied to you organization’s mission? That mission statement you wrote that is quantifiable. Because with a clear, quantifiable mission statement, creating the roles and responsibilities to achieve the mission becomes much easier. Once those roles are defined and aligned to the mission, the job description for the positions that are fulfilling those roles practically writes itself. And then if you base performance reviews off of clearly articulated responsibilities with success defined, the review is a walk in the park.
The second thing that adds stress is our tendency to associate performance reviews with salary. It’s almost like the idea is put in our heads at birth, because it seems like everyone does it that way. But I think salary review should be its own thing, totally disassociated from the performance review process. Knowing that the two are linked can put way more pressure on the reviewer to skew the review to justify the salary determination. To be fair, performance evaluations should be a factor in the salary decision, but the two processes should be distinct.
And never should an employee be surprised by the results of a performance evaluation. If they are not performing up to your expectations, it is incumbent upon you to have that discussion with them as soon as possible, and not put it off until review time. There are always bad apples, and sometime there are issues, but usually, if you have done a good job hiring, people want to do a good job. We don’t typically get out of bed and say, “I can’t wait to go to work and screw something up today!” So as a boss, we have to make sure that our expectations are clear and that the people who report to us have the tools and freedom they need to do their jobs.