Only 21 percent of practices conduct performance evaluations, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, a consultant with Brakke Consulting Inc. in Dallas. Yet your success in practice largely depends on how well you manage people. And performance evaluations let employees know how they're doing, so they-and you-can improve.
Only 21 percent of practices conduct performance evaluations, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, a consultant with Brakke Consulting Inc. in Dallas. Yet your success in practice largely depends on how well you manage people. And performance evaluations let employees know how they're doing, so they—and you—can improve.
First, you must set expectations, says Dr. Felsted, starting with job descriptions and training. "You can't judge people on duties they didn't know they were supposed to do; it's unfair, and it makes them angry."
To avoid confusion about job expectations, Dr. Felsted recommends providing feedback all year. "Unless something happened three minutes before, there shouldn't be any surprises in the review," she says.
Sit down weekly to document instances when your employees met or exceeded your expectations and when they fell short. "If an employee committed a more serious offense, write it up. Otherwise, chat on a casual basis, and hold quarterly informal meetings to revisit your expectations and the doctor's progress toward his or her goals."
So you can remember what happened throughout the year, Dr. Felsted suggests keeping an informal employee file. "Otherwise, when it's time for the yearly review, you'll only remember last week," she says. "You can throw out these notes once you've written the formal appraisal."
Why conduct a formal review when you're providing feedback year-round? "Putting things down on paper helps the message hit home in a way that talking about them doesn't," she says. "Plus, when you write everything down, you can easily compare your employees, which will help you better identify whether someone is really excelling—or not. You want to make sure you are, in fact, giving the best marks to the best people."
This process of comparing employees also helps you give raises to the people who deserve them. "But wait a month or so to actually give the raises, so you can concentrate on performance and goals during the review, without the employee being distracted by money," she says.
Of course, you need to live up to the same expectations you set for your associates. So try doing your own performance review at the same time. Beware, there are pitfalls in a self-evaluation, says Dr. Felsted, mainly that it's hard to be objective. To get another perspective, you may be tempted to ask your employees to review you. "Don't," says Dr. Felsted, "unless you sincerely plan on listening and making changes. If you're just going to file the forms away, your employees will resent you and think you did it for show."