The How-To Performance Review: Set it and Forget It

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Savanah Carlson

Performance reviews shouldn’t be scary for you or your team, even when it comes to constructive feedback and development. Identifying areas where they need to develop new skills or knowledge is particularly helpful for team members who are interested in advancing within your dental practice. Below are the five steps to follow for performance reviews and a list of successful assessment topics to address with team members. These assessment topics have led to greater conversations about their careers, goals, and happiness in the dental practice.

Schedule the Review

Setting a date and time for the performance review will give your team members enough notice so that they can prepare. Explain that the review’s purpose is to provide feedback on their work performance and discuss their goals and career development. I encourage all team members to come to their review with any questions or feedback for the doctors and management about working in the practice. Allowing them to address questions or concerns formally creates more conversation. After all, performance reviews should be clear, direct, and honest.

Example of a performance evaluation

Email (or Hand Out) the Assessment

Creating an assessment sheet provides clear guidance to your team members about what they are being reviewed. A clear assessment sheet ensures that all team members are being evaluated using the same criteria. This promotes consistency and fairness, which helps build trust and confidence in your team. This assessment should be given to the team members and doctors (even if you have multiple providers). Include a due date in order for you to successfully and thoroughly process all feedback. I also provide each team member with a copy of their previous year’s performance review and any notes or goals we discussed. Evaluated skills & performance topics include:

  • Job knowledge
  • Productivity & initiative
  • Work quality & consistency
  • Technical skills
  • Enthusiasm & cooperation
  • Work relations
  • Punctuality, attendance, dependability
  • Communication skills

Fill in Your Performance Review & Comparison Template

Creating a clear and thorough performance review provides you and your team with consistency and clear expectations. Being objective is crucial, and by using specific criteria and rating scales, you can avoid subjective reviews and ensure the review is based on measurable performance metrics. Insert the assessment feedback into your review template. If it is a one-year review, leave the “Key” on the review to show your team members how they will be evaluated in the coming year.

An example of a performance evaluation

Provide feedback to your team members on their performance. Be specific about what they did well and where they need to improve. Provide examples of specific situations to correlate your feedback. Focus on actionable feedback that your team members can use to improve their performance going forward. Don’t just use the assessment forms, but also incorporate any metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) established in their onboarding. The need to combine data with personal feedback is crucial, especially if you are delivering corrective feedback.

As you can see in the attached review template, a “Key” system clearly denotes where team members have improved, are consistently doing well, and areas for improvement. The “Key” system provides a structured format for feedback and encourages an open and honest dialogue about their job performance and expectations.

Time for the Review

Now that you have input feedback and data into your review template, having the conversation with your team members should not be daunting or stressful. Explain the review process: “I’ve reserved this hour to talk with you about your impact at the dental practice with our patients and your peers. This time is to discuss your assessment and provide you with feedback from the doctors. I encourage you to ask questions along the way. Sounds good?” Actively listen to their questions or concerns. Set a positive tone for the review by acknowledging their contributions to the dental practice and any accomplishments. Did your team member obtain additional certifications? Celebrate that! Questions that may prompt more conversation: “What can we do to help you improve this?” or “What are your thoughts on that situation?” It’s important to remember this is an opportunity for you to help them develop their skills and set clear expectations for their future performance.

Follow-up Notes

Documenting any discussions about goals and feedback from the review is best for accountability and should be placed in the team member’s personnel file. Any goals created between you and your team member should be specific, measurable, achievable, and have a timeline. Your follow-up notes can be added directly to the review form (in a different color or highlighted) or in a separate document. If your team member needs additional resources or support to improve their performance, list them in the follow-up notes and explain the training, tools, and resources you will utilize to help them succeed. Communicating this information clearly will help your team members feel valued and motivated to improve their performance, and it shows you were actively listening and processing their personal feedback.

Setting yourself up for success in creating and performing reviews sets your team up for success. Your ability to provide valuable, measurable feedback on a team member’s performance can lead to increased productivity and strong working relationships. Utilize the performance review process to increase patient care quality while helping your team members develop their skills and grow professionally.

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About the Author

Headshot of Savanah Carlson

Savanah fell in love with dentistry after she received her BA in English and theatre from the College of the Holy Cross. She has been in the dental field since 2010, with expertise ranging from front desk to billing and insurance to social media marketing. Savanah became a member of AADOM in 2018. She completed all three AADOM designation program levels, recently receiving her Diplomate (DAADOM) designation at the AADOM Conference in September. Savanah joined the AADOM team in June of 2023 and oversees the membership services team as director of member services.

Aside from being a smile enthusiast and dental leader, Savanah encourages and motivates dental professionals to pursue their education and strive for excellence in their careers.

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