Give employees frequent praise, review as required

Doing performance reviews can seem like a hassle, but they don't need to be. Learn why reviews are important and how you can effectively use them in your practice.

Q: My practice's employee performance review process seems like it needs an overhaul. What should I keep in mind when designing a new process?

A: Most physicians just hate doing performance reviews, and, as a result, the reviews promised in the employee handbook always seem to be long overdue. It shouldn't be that way, however.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the best time to give praise or correct a problem is soon after the behavior occurs. In the workplace, this implies constant feedback for workers in the form of frequent praise and incident reviews as needed. It's also the reason initial training requires so much hands-on time from the manager or supervisor.

In addition, conduct a 90-day review with new employees. Mark your calendar about 85 days from an employee's start date to consider seriously whether he or she has earned a spot on your team. Sometimes, new people may not get the hang of your procedure or style, or they're not as good as they seemed in the interview. If so, the time to cut the cord is before their 90th day. That's because in most states, unemployment claims made by workers who were terminated during their first 90 days don't count against the employer's experience rating. Your unemployment insurance also won't go up as a result of this turnover.

A 90-day review usually is a positive thing, however. Congratulate the worker, reemphasize his or her success, and mention the areas you will be working on to further develop his or her skills. Finally, there's the annual review. Rather than conducting these around the employee's anniversary date, group all the reviews into the same 2-week period. That way, you will be thinking about everyone's performance at the same time, comparing one with another; you'll be more likely to deal fairly with work problems that affect several employees and to treat everyone the same.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Judy Bee, Practice Performance Group, La Jolla, California. She is also an editorial consultant for Medical Economics Send your practice management questions to Also engage at and

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