New Medical Practice Staff Performance Reviews: 5 Tips

December 9, 2014

Many medical practices hold 90-day performance reviews with new staff. Here are five tips to help ensure these evaluations lead to positive outcomes.

Many practices hold a 90-day review with new staff members to discuss performance, areas that need improvement, and provide kudos for a job well done. Here are a few tips to help ensure you are making the most of these important evaluations:

1. Gather perspectives. Speak to physicians and staff members with whom the employee works closely. While you can (and should) observe the employee in action, it's impossible for you to understand exactly how that new staff member works with and interacts with his colleagues and supervisors in various situations. "I try to get their perspective on things they're seeing on the floor that maybe I don't see," said Cynthia Blain, director at healthcare consulting firm SS&G Healthcare.

2. Criticize right. The 90-day review presents a great opportunity to identify how the employee can improve and what she needs to work on. But remember: Motivation and correction is much more about giving people something to work toward, than it is telling them to stop doing something, said Carol Stryker, founder of practice management consulting company Symbiotic Solutions. For instance, rather than telling a staff member she needs to stop looking down when she speaks to patients, ask why she is having trouble making eye contact. Then say, "What can we do to help you make eye contact, because that's a real important part of making patients feel welcome."

3. Be detail oriented. Frame the review (and your conversation with the staff member) around their job description. Be on the lookout, however, for smaller details when it comes to professionalism and patient relations. For instance, consider whether the staff member is willing to ask questions (a good thing), and if he is always asking the same questions (a bad thing). Similarly, don't focus on how often he makes mistakes, but on how often he learns from those mistakes, said Stryker. "If you make the same mistake repeatedly then we've got a problem - you have to learn from that."

4. Gauge engagement. You want your staff members to be engaged and committed to helping improve your practice. Consider how many suggestions the staff member has made that were helpful and whether the staff member is willing to share her input and ideas, said Stryker.

5. Ask for input. The 90-day review isn't just for you to share your thoughts, it's also the new hire's opportunity to share his thoughts, experiences, needs, and questions. Ask the staff member how he feels about working in the practice, how the orientation process could be improved, and so on, said Troy Jaklich, president of Legacy Human Resources, which specializes in medical offices.