Looking forward to future possibilities

Staff and employers are often filled with dread when it comes to conducting performance appraisals, but this shouldn’t be the case, says Susie Anderson-Sharkey

04 April, 2018 / management
 Susie Anderson-Sharkey  

We have recently conducted our annual performance appraisals and it never ceases to amaze me the fear and dread it causes among the staff. I’ve noticed, talking to friends and colleagues, that no matter what business people are working in, those two words “performance appraisal” elicit the same response. And truly, this should not be
the case.

Many people feel that a performance appraisal is a “necessary evil, box ticking exercise” that, given the chance, should be avoided at all costs. It is viewed, at best, as a pointless exercise where nothing changes so, what’s the point? And that is a very valid question. Just what is the point to a performance appraisal? Just what are we looking at, why do we do them and what do we hope to gain from the process?

First off, it’s not a chance to tell someone how badly they are performing. If they are performing badly then there is a structure where this can be explored and, if necessary, an improvement plan put in place where their under-performance can be managed. Neither should appraisals be a platform for giving a wage increase. Historically, performance appraisals have been used as a tool that was used to set a percentage pay rise (or not) but there are other reasons for giving a pay rise other than performance alone and we can perhaps look at this in another article.

There are plenty of templates online for carrying out performance appraisals, and this year I decided to use a slightly different one to the ones I have used before. Previously, I have used a score system where both myself and the employee separately score how they have performed in various headings such as customer service, team player, time keeping etc, then come together at the meeting, compare the scores and, where there is a difference, use this as a ground for discussion.

In an ideal situation, the scores for each competency should be almost identical, but occasionally you do come across an employee whose enthusiasm outweighs their ability and this has to be delicately managed in order not to crush the employee but, at the same time, give them pointers along the way. And let’s be honest, no employee should be going into their performance appraisal not knowing how they have performed. I would be very surprised, and a bit concerned, if an employee attended a review and our respective views of their performance were diametrically opposed. The situation should have been managed well before it arrived at performance appraisal stage.

A performance appraisal should be a positive experience for both the employee and the employer. Where time permits, I would like to be able to take each employee for a coffee and a chat off the premises in a relaxing surrounding where we can chat openly and honestly to each other about career to date, career progression and make solid objectives for the coming year. Owing to time commitments in the surgeries, this is very seldom possible and the appraisal meetings are usually carried out in my office, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

If you have to sit in the office, have a cup of coffee and a chat. Let the employee know that this is not a dressing down but rather a chance to look forward to future possibilities. Give them time to talk to you and make sure that they see you are listening, taking notes and value their feedback.

With the enhanced CPD being rolled out this year, I used this as the basis of our performance appraisals conducted just a few weeks ago. I spoke to each DCP about the new rules and regulations, the necessity of completing a personal development plan and how that plan should match both the roles they are carrying out within the practice and the roles that they would like to carry out in the future. This led to very interesting discussions regarding each person’s career path and extended duties as dental nurses.

It helps to engage them with the practice but also to be engaged in owning their own career and being enthusiastic about moving forward and gaining further qualifications that will benefit both themselves and the practice. Each staff member has been given the task of finding information on further career developments and will come to me with the information and we will take things from there.


More info

If you wish to contact me regarding this article or any other practice management issues I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at susie@dentalfx.co.uk

Tags: future possibilities / performance appraisals

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