Dealing With Review Time
Be fair and just when handing out raises
-- make your expectations known.
Jerry Hayes, O.D.
This is the time of the year when staff members
often come to you requesting that you "review" them. In essence what
they're really saying is, "I'm willing to sit through some criticism if
you're willing to give me a raise." As such, this situation can turn into a
trap and I'm advising you not to fall into it. Here's how and why.
Set the record straight
It's difficult to keep an employee focused on
performance issues when she's concerned about how big of raise she's going to
get. And once you give her a number, the last thing she's thinking about is what
she has to do for her next raise.
To justify ever-increasing salaries you have to
create an incentive for your staff to continue growing. I think the best way to
do that is to:
- be specific about what you want your employees
- let them know that you'll base anything more
than a cost-of-living raise on their abilities to perform better or to learn
For example, you might tell a new frame stylist
that her next raise will depend on her learning how to take all necessary
measurements, write up a lab order, check the glasses in and perform a complete
dispensing and adjustment without your help. Set a target date to review her
review in three to six months and discuss the specific salary that you'll grant
her if she succeeds.
ILLUSTRATION BY ALAN
This will only work if both you and the employee
agree in advance on what you wish to accomplish and by when. Then put it in
writing. When staff members successfully master new skills to your satisfaction,
congratulate them on their achievements and then come through with the promised
raise. Otherwise, you're going to have some less-than-motivated employees on
On the other hand, if they don't perform to your
satisfaction, then you have to have the backbone to say, "Sorry, but you
didn't live up to my expectations so you're not getting a big raise this
Giving the bare minimum
It's appropriate to give an employee just a
cost-of-living raise when she hasn't grown her skill level but is still
performing well enough to keep. Cost-of-living raises currently are typically
about 3% each year.
Giving raises on merit
You should consider giving an employee a merit
raise when she improves her job performance or her skill level in a
demonstrative and visible way. For example, an employee who used to be shy but
has learned how to be friendly and assertive on the phone is doing her job
better and deserves your consideration for a merit raise. A front desk
receptionist who learns to take case histories and use the autorefractor is
someone who's learning new skills.
In both cases, the employees have increased their
value to the practice, justifying a possible raise. Merit raises usually fall
within the 6% to 10% range, depending on how much the employee makes now and how
long she's been with you.
Make your intentions clear
While many optometrists tend to lump performance
appraisals and salary reviews together, I think it's better to do them
separately. It's your responsibility to tell your employees what aspects of
their jobs they need to improve on and to then let them know that future raises
depend on improving performance and learning new skills.
A frequent writer and speaker on practice
management issues, Dr. Hayes is the founder and director of Hayes Consulting.
You can reach him at (800) 588-9636 or JHAYES@HAYESCONSULTING.NET.
Optometric Management, Issue: November 2003