5 Tips for Effective Performance Reviews

January 20, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

Performance reviews are a wise investment in your business. Here are five tips for executing reviews that benefit both your employees and your practice.

The typical workday for a successful veterinarian includes back-to-back appointments and dozens of emails and calls that need to be returned, leaving little time for direct conversations with employees that last more than 30 seconds at a time. For the most part, it’s easy to assess the general performance of a company from afar, but the key to increasing overall success is in the details.

That is why it’s a wise business investment to schedule time for one-on-one performance reviews. The process — as mundane as it may seem initially — is known to improve workflow and employee retention. Done correctly, veterinarians may uncover untapped talent and useful management suggestions that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Furthermore, making the time to initiate goal-oriented conversations can enhance employee relationships and improve performance.

Learn the best strategies for structuring performance reviews and what types of feedback to provide (and receive) using the five tips below.

1. Prepare

Preparation is key for successful performance reviews. Ask employees to complete self-evaluations that include their successes, challenges and goals. Request that these be completed at least a few days prior to the meetings to allow time for your review. This initiates the evaluation process for both employers and employees, and the person conducting the meetings can isolate specific differences that need to be addressed between official review documents and employees’ self-reflections. It’s also important to create an agenda to guide each meeting as well as notes that include individual feedback and critiques. Speaking off the cuff increases the chance that you’ll miss key opportunities for feedback, and employees may mistake a laidback approach for a lack of regard for their success.


  • Shut the Revolving Door
  • Confidence Killers

2. Be Detailed

Providing specific examples to support feedback demonstrates that time has been taken to tailor each review. Canned responses give the impression that everyone is viewed the same and individual traits and talents are unnoticed and irrelevant.

As a whole, reviews should be focused on the positive aspects of employee performance, but areas that need improvement shouldn’t be neglected. Be upfront about an employee’s shortcomings. Performance assessments make it easier to identify the underperformers and address issues in an appropriate setting. Employees may be unaware of the mistakes they are making and, therefore, unsure of how to correct them.

3. Discover Their Why

Recent Gallup research revealed that employees want to work for a purpose, not just a paycheck. Don’t assume that everyone on your staff wants to work in a veterinary practice because they like animals — there is more to it. Ask open-ended, pointed questions that reveal exactly why each employee is there and what he or she hopes to gain from the experience. It’s not always possible to assign employees only the responsibilities they’re passionate about, but sprinkling in favored tasks and projects to encourage development will keep employees motivated.

4. Make Your Expectations Known

Use the meeting to clarify the employee’s role in the practice. If responsibilities haven’t been reviewed since the initial interview, create an up-to-date job description to evaluate what’s being accomplished and the areas that still need development. Performance reviews generally focus on the past, but you should also use this opportunity to plan for the future. Include measurable goals or metrics for employees to reach prior to the next review.

5. Remember That It’s a Conversation

Performance reviews involve an ebb and flow of feedback and suggestions between both parties — the veterinarian or manager should not recite a monologue. It’s also important for the interviewer to request feedback from the employee. Remain open minded and understand that negative comments about practice culture or procedures should be viewed as constructive criticism and not an attack.

In order to be meaningful, performance reviews should become one part of continual discussions between managers and employees. Outside of formal sit-downs, make an effort to comment on employees’ hard work and follow up on any new processes or responsibilities that were prompted from previous reviews.