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The Time to Deliver Redirecting Feedback is Now!

It's HR Tuesday!

We get requests for help on how to document performance reviews all of the time. Usually, what managers are asking for is a form that can be used to evaluate an employee who is not doing so well during a yearly or quarterly performance review.

The trouble is, rather than a time for your employees to receive criticism, performance evaluations should be a mostly positive experience for you and your team member! It’s a time to celebrate individual wins and accomplishments. Looking back together over the last year or quarter, the focus should hopefully be about the little victories and how those corrections have culminated into marked and observable improvement. If you do ask your employee for improvement in a performance review, it should typically be only for big picture issues.

More importantly, why should you as a manager have to wait for an annual or quarterly review to address issues related to job performance? When someone needs feedback so they can do a better job, they need it now. Heck, never mind them! We as managers need to say what we need to say and get needed corrections off our chest! Could it wait a few hours, days, or maybe up to a week? Sure, but oftentimes, even a week is too long.

As with most things, language matters. With that in mind, here are a few helpful distinctions between the types of performance reviews along with the purpose that each one serves. We will also outline why we think it is important to create at least two layers of feedback for each employee. Our preference, and what we suggest to CEDR members, is a combination of yearly reviews, frequent one-on-ones, and daily feedback.

What are the different types of performance evaluations, and what are they for?

It depends on the intention behind the meeting you are having. There are distinct types of employee evaluations, and each one plays a different part in helping your employees progress in their role at your company.

Here are three of the most common ones along with the main reason for conducting them:

Yearly reviews… This text opens a new tab to the Free Feedback Packet…, annual reviews, quarterly reviews, or one-year evaluations are generally reserved to check in with an employee, talk about their progress, and make the employee aware that they need to improve in specific areas related to their ability to succeed. A snippet of that overview might sound like this:

We are very pleased with how you stepped up to be a manager and your progress as a leader. Your peers report they love working with you, and your direct reports have nothing but positive things to say. We have noticed that you are still struggling a bit with keeping your KPIs updated and knowing when to ask for help. If you can focus on these two areas, it’s going to open up new areas where we can grow even more. When you don’t report the numbers to us, that means you are not paying attention to the numbers either, which is going to come back to bite us all at some point.

After delivering the feedback, you would then go on to discuss the issue– getting consensus and agreement from your employee to work on these big picture items. Offer your employee help removing any barriers to their success, and let them know you plan on discussing their progress in your weekly one-on-one meetings.

90-day evaluations… This text opens a new tab to the Free Feedback Packet… serve a very particular purpose which is to welcome a new team member, let them know what they are doing well, and set goals for their first year of employment. Once again, there should not be too many surprises. Anything you bring up within the context of needing to improve should be things you have already asked them to work on. In the case of a new employee who has not been improving, it could also be the moment when you let them know their continued employment is questionable.

Weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings should happen regularly but can be particularly onerous for small practices. Nonetheless, they are the best place to deliver constructive feedback. When put into practice, they are the most appropriate time to sit down with your employee to discuss successes, but also to focus on key areas where the need for improvement is immediate.

Why shouldn’t I use performance reviews to address poor job performance and behavioral issues?

The biggest drawback to waiting for a once a quarter or yearly performance review to ask your employee for a change is, from the moment your employee makes a mistake until you address the issue, your silence gives that employee permission to continue the behavior until you finally sit down for the scheduled performance review. Let an employee continue poor job performance and the rest of your team will have to deal with an incompetent coworker, your patients will experience poor care, and, for the employee themself, the behavior becomes second nature. Entrenched behavior is incredibly hard to change.

There are other reasons not to wait for a performance review and to give your employee every chance, each and every day, to succeed and learn on the job. For example, it’s not a great idea to condition your employees to fear performance reviews because they will expect to hear a bunch of bad news. However, the most important reason is that addressing poor performance as quickly as possible will help your business run more smoothly. When done well, immediate feedback actually helps employees become more engaged in the work they do.

Okay, so when should I give “redirecting” feedback then?

As soon as possible– always! Best case scenario, one-on-ones are a weekly, standing meeting where you can sit down and deliver redirecting feedback, although, it is not the sole purpose of the one-on-ones. These meetings can also be used to celebrate victories, solve problems at your practice, and even get to know your employees on a more personal basis. The main purpose of the one-on-one, however, is to make sure your employee understands their duties and grows in their role at your practice. One-on-ones scheduled weekly are best and are the most appropriate place to accomplish this. Extremely busy practices may have to make these meetings biweekly or monthly, but, when it comes to redirecting feedback, the sooner your employee hears it, the sooner they can correct that behavior.

Isn’t documentation important? If I don’t write my employee up at the annual review, when should I do it?

True, documentation is always key… This text opens a new tab to the Free Feedback Packet…. The great news is, an employer need not wait until a formal setting to ask an employee to change! While it is never okay to dress an employee down in front of patients or the rest of your team, you can simply say, “Hey, Amy. I will always need two mirrors on this particular tray,” or find a quiet moment in the hallway to ask Amy if she’s having trouble remembering how to prepare the tray. You can ask her if there’s anything you can do, like make a checklist, to help her remember. Once that is done, make a note on the employee’s HR file about the conversation in the hallway. Lots of HR software, including the HR Vault Software … This text opens a new tab to the HR Vault…from CEDR, allows employers to make confidential notes on employee files with timestamps.

This process follows the tenets of Progressive Corrective Coaching (or PCC)… This text opens a new tab to the article on Progressive Corrective Coaching…, a CEDR-developed method of addressing specific behaviors or issues in real-time in a manner that provides the necessary documentation to protect your business. In conjunction with one-on-ones, PCC can be used to address attitude, tardiness, failure to perform key functions of the position, and a myriad of other things. Generally, it is one more way to document and ask for a team member to progress along the path towards becoming a better fit for your practice and their job position. In PCC, you are encouraged to address problems as they crop up rather than waiting for a structured meeting to do so while taking steps to protect your practice through documentation. That being said, performing one-on-ones can, for the most part, eliminate the need for corrective actions.

What if this employee is really, really bad? Shouldn’t I say something at their review?

If an employee’s performance has been unacceptable, you shouldn’t perform a 90-day, annual evaluation, or any review outside of a combination of regular one-on-ones and PCC. If the performance evaluation was scheduled and the employee asks why you’ve canceled, you can tell them the meeting has been postponed because they need to focus all their efforts on correcting the issues you’ve been discussing in one-on-ones immediately. Remember, performance evaluations should be a mostly positive experience reserved for employees who are performing their job adequately.

Conclusion

Through regular one-on-one meetings, your practice will run much more smoothly mainly because problems will get solved much faster. With that in mind, if you can’t schedule weekly one-on-ones, go biweekly. Schedule them monthly, if you absolutely must, but whatever arrangements you make, remember that while your employee is waiting for their one-on-one, the bad behavior is becoming more and more entrenched.

Bottom line, for that reason, when you spot an issue with your employee’s job performance, we encourage you to address it and document it as soon as possible which is certainly not in an annual review!

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