For many ambulatory surgery center (ASC) leaders, annual employee performance reviews can feel like a never-ending exercise that leaves all parties confused. Between praising, critiquing, and wishing employees a happy holiday season, the entire episode can feel complicated, unproductive, and simply like a waste of everyone’s time. In fact, in its whitepaper titled Putting the ‘Performance’ Back in Performance Management, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cites two studies from the past 10 years that show the performance review is indeed a dreaded event, “it is not only perceived to be of little value, but it is highly demotivating to employees, even the highest performers.” But the common saying still rings true: Employee reviews come around once a year, whether you want them to or not. And, believe it or not, there is a way to transform them from mundane, inefficient, once-a-year meetings into constructive conversations that build employee relations over time and also lead to better employee and ASC performance overall. The following is a list of best practices regarding the steps ASC leaders should take before, during and after employee reviews to ensure a positive and productive experience that leads to growth for both the staff member and the facility as a whole:
Before the review: Prepare
Before the review even begins, consider rescheduling it. More specifically, reschedule all employee reviews to occur not at the end of the year, but earlier in the fall when the added stress of the holiday season will not distract from the meeting. All tiers of ASC staff members have an extra heavy workload at the end of the year—with both work-related and personal responsibilities piled high—and neither party will benefit if they are not fully engaged with the conversation at hand. In addition to changing the season of the meeting, managers should be consistently monitoring and recording employee performance and behavior throughout the year to approach the review with an informed perspective. Throughout the past year, when has the employee shined? When has the employee struggled, and why? What are the employee’s strengths, and how can they facilitate further growth within the organization? Organizing this information and delivering it in a clear and objective manner will help encourage straightforward communication and positive relationships with employees. It is critical to discuss specific events throughout the entire previous year, rather than selecting one recent event in which the employee made a mistake and judging their performance as such. Employees will feel more connected to their higher-ups if they are being reviewed fairly and accurately for the work they have done in the prior twelve months.
During the review: Engage
Once a supervisor has prepared notes, feedback, and goals for the performance review, the actual review itself can become an open dialogue to help foster employee—and, therefore, ASC—growth. Unfortunately, it is all too common for employers to read off a form or rattle off some numbers regarding how the employee is doing, rarely leaving room for conversation or even the chance to connect with the individual. Instead, review your notes prior to the discussion, so you are prepared to have a face-to-face conversation that makes employees feel heard, supported and engaged. It is the employer’s responsibility to help staff members improve their performance and achieve success. During the review, discuss the worker’s strengths as well as where he or she needs to improve. Focus on the issues in question, rather than the person. Be sure to cite specific examples of inappropriate or unsatisfactory work performance or behavior, and recommend ways to change, adjust and improve. In addition, be sure to spell out specific goals within a future plan for the employee, so they can clearly understand what is expected of them. It is the leader’s role to give staff the tools to succeed. For an employee who is struggling to excel, the employee performance review should not be the first time they have heard of an area in need of improvement. This should be an ongoing discussion with goal setting and feedback to improve performance. Be sure ASC staff know you support them and that you are there to guide and mentor them throughout the year to achieve their individual goals. This will motivate them to not only reach those goals, but to become more engaged in the workplace and contribute to a more efficient center.
After the review: Follow-up
Once the employee leaves the office or conference room post-review, your work as a manager is just beginning. It is critical to continue to check in and touch base with staff members on long-term goals, congratulate them on successes achieved, and support and mentor them when they might need more guidance. A recent article in Harvard Business Review, titled Reinventing Performance Management, emphasizes the importance of following up with employees throughout the year: “Research into the practices of the best team leaders reveals that they conduct regular check-ins with each team member about near-term work. These brief conversations allow leaders to set expectations for the upcoming week, review priorities, comment on recent work, and provide course correction, coaching, or important new information.” The article continues to suggest that annual conversations about year-end ratings are generally less valuable than in-the-moment coaching about recent performance or upcoming goals. A recent article released by the SHRM echoes this sentiment, and states that checking in with employees helps to foster relationships and build a more cohesive team. In short, it is all too common for both supervisors and employees to equally dread annual performance reviews. But by turning these once-a-year meetings into dynamic, ongoing discussions about growth and potential, management teams can build better, more constructive relationships that engage and motivate their staff while improving ASC operations overall. To learn more about getting the most out of employee review sessions, contact email@example.com.