Every employee should have a performance review

January 25, 2013

Performance reviews can be time-consuming. Discover why you should still do them.

Q: I only have a few employees in my practice. Do I need to give them each a performance review?

A: Maybe it’s the result of physicians’ training; they frequently view performance reviews as a negative experience, and they prefer to avoid these sessions out of fear that discussing work problems will “upset the atmosphere” in the practice. For most employees, however, the performance review is the single most important event in his or her work year.

Good workers know that getting raises is logically linked with getting more valuable-with improved performance. Providing a work environment that demands performance improvement motivates workers at the esteem and self-actualization needs levels.

When the boss notices work done well and comments on it, the worker is validated and goes home happy. Even pointing out ways a worker can improve, when done in a caring and supportive way, is a motivator.

It’s the boss who clearly doesn’t value quality work who is the morale destroyer. For example, when C- workers are given the same treatment as their A+ colleagues, it’s the better employee who feels the lack of respect.

The three types of performance reviews are the 90-day review, which every new employee experiences; the incident review, which comes up whenever an incident warrants discussion with a worker; and the annual review, which every employee needs once a year.

Performance appraisals can help buttress your defense if an employee (or, more likely, a former employee) sues you. The absence of an evaluation or adequate review sometimes can be used against you with devastating results. Juries tend to come down hard on employees who don’t appear to have given an employee a chance to improve by coaching and training. And the employee with no bad reviews who is suddenly fired is justified in being shocked-and you may be equally shocked when he or she sues you for wrongful termination.

The best defense is to demonstrate your fairness with a pattern of carefully documented counseling with all employees.

The author is affiliated with Practice Performance Group, La Jolla, California, and a Medical Economics editorial consultant. Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com. Also engage at www.twitter.com/MedEconomics and www.facebook.com/MedicalEconomics.