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Article Date: 4/1/2004

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staffing solutions
Examining Staff Job Performance
In the first of a two-part series, we examine a frequently cloudy issue.
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

I have seen research that shows that a high percentage of employees are totally in the dark about how they're doing on the job or how they can do better -- simply because they've never been told.

One result is that exceptional employees are unaware of their strengths and may not be consistent in what they do or how they do it. Those who feel that their employers don't notice or appreciate their efforts may become demotivated and start looking for another job.

Another result is that marginal employees are unaware of their shortcomings -- and may assume that silence means approval (i.e. "If the doctor didn't like the way I do things, he would tell me."). Either way, you lose.

Let's clarify the picture

One solution to this communication gap is the performance review. It's been defined as a two-way dialogue between employer and employee about the latter's past, present and future job performance. It includes a discussion of such matters as:

  • Recognition of good work
  • Clarification of job responsibilities and priorities
  • Suggestions for improvement -- on both sides
  • How and by when the employee will make such improvements.

Such discussions let people know how their performance on the job compares with your expectations. This helps employees identify their strengths, develop their talents and enjoy their work.

Note: Many optometrists avoid performance reviews because they're concerned that employees will see it as an opportunity to ask for a raise. The fact is that salary reviews and performance reviews are separate and distinct management tasks that you should scheduled at different times.

Try this

Schedule a performance review in advance and give employees a list of topics/questions that are most appropriate for their situation (consider the list of questions to follow). It'll give them time to think about the issues that concern them.

Before you discuss the person, discuss the job itself. You may have different ideas about the exact nature of each job than do your employees. If you have a written job description, then review it together to see if you need to revise any points. (If you don't have a written description of every job, then you may want to consider creating them.) Then ask such questions as:

  • Do we agree on what your job entails?
  • Which do you think are the most important elements of your job? Do we agree on these?
  • Do we agree on the standards by which I'll evaluate your work?

Ask before you tell

Instead of telling employees what you think of their work, ask them (individually) to tell you what they think they do well and what they'd like to do better. Many will criticize themselves more readily than they'll accept criticism from you. In fact, they may judge themselves more harshly than you would. Ask questions such as:

  • What do you think are your greatest strengths?
  • In which areas do you feel less competent?
  • Do you feel you are becoming more competent as time goes by? If so, in what ways?
  • Is there any way the practice could help you do a better job?
  • Do I do anything that makes your job harder?

Continued next month



Optometric Management, Issue: April 2004