Formal performance reviews are important, but no one likes them. You work to create an upbeat, happy atmosphere in your office, then you have to conduct formal, one-sided assessments of your team members. For everyone, formal performance reviews feel like an itchy wool sweater in August.
Perhaps it’s time you consider terminating the formal performance review. Feedback is imperative, though, so you can’t forego review meetings. Consider replacing the old-school reviews with a more modern, collaborative process: growth conferences.
A growth conference involves a review, as well as a two-way conversation to discuss strengths, weaknesses, and goals, followed by action steps. This collaborative approach will allow you and your employees to keep a positive attitude, while focusing on growth and development, rather than accusations and demands. Growth conferences are about helping employees reach their full potential, for the benefit of your practice as a whole.
Introducing Growth Conferences
At a team meeting, let everyone know that you’re ditching performance reviews. (They will probably cheer!) Then, introduce the concept of growth conferences, and announce the frequency that you’ll conduct these meetings. Annual meetings are good, but you might want to hold growth conferences twice a year or quarterly, depending on how quickly your practice is growing and changing.
Just as we tell patients what to expect before we treat them, you should provide employees with a form that reviews what they will experience during their growth conference. This form should outline questions that are important to your one-on-one meetings. Answer any questions and ask team members to complete the form before their scheduled meeting with you.
Conducting the One-on-One Meeting
At growth conferences, you’ll sit down with one employee at a time. Schedule the appointments well in advance, so your employees can prepare by completing their forms and thinking about what they would like to discuss. You, too, should make notes prior to your conferences.
During each meeting, review the completed employee form and consider the answers you read there. Also think about what wasn’t written. Sometimes managers, such as yourself, need to read between the lines. Have you noticed conflict with other team memebrs? Have you noticed improvements in patient care? Discuss the answers and provide feedback. Talk about positive aspects of the employee’s performance, and introduce your own assessment of areas that may be improved upon. Remember, your employees look to you for direction, feedback, and guidance. Don’t let them down; be a strong, upbeat leader.
Next, work with the team member to create a written action plan, naming specific goals. Both you and your employee should sign and date the action plan. Make a copy for yourself and your team member. Secure the original in the employee’s file, because you’ll need it for review at the next growth conference. You might set a date to discuss progress, hindrances, and achievements toward the goals on the action plan. If there is anything you can do to encourage and help the employee meet his or her goals, do not neglect the opportunity to do so.