Performance Reviews Don’t Work. Here’s What To Do Instead.

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else – Booker T. Washington

Be honest: have you ever looked forward to sitting down for a performance review? These annual rituals are painful for everyone, PT owners and staff alike.  Still, many of us continue to force ourselves and our teams through the uncomfortable ritual of an annual review.

I’ve got some good news for you: you can stop doing performance reviews. In fact, I encourage you to stop. Why? These year-end evaluations are wasting your time and hurting your team.

Performance reviews generate fear and mistrust in both managers and employees. For employees, these yearly sit-downs are demoralizing. The put team members instantly on the defensive. It’s next to impossible to absorb feedback in a defensive mindset

As a former PT owner, I can say that performance reviews were among my least favorite responsibilities—second only to having to fire an employee. For PT owners, conducting annual reviews provokes anxiety. They also take up a lot of your valuable time. A 2017 study by Adobe found that managers put an average of 17 hours into every single performance review!

The time and the stress wrapped up in these reviews might be worth it, if they delivered positive results for our teams. But research shows, they don’t. That same Adobe study found that annual reviews don’t actually improve employee performance.

Year-end reviews drag your team down

The antiquated annual performance review does nothing to help fulfill your practice mission. Instead, it puts you and your staff on opposite sides of the table. That undermines trust. And trust is the single most motivating force we have in the workplace. Any activity that weakens trust has no place in a mission-driven PT practice.

What should PT owners be doing instead? Engaging in an ongoing cycle of constructive feedback. Developing a routine of regular check-ins between managers and team members. Holding quarterly meetings to work together to evaluate team members’ progress, and the areas of performance that need more attention.   

If you’re communicating regularly and effectively with your staff, you shouldn’t never need a big, formal, yearly sit down. A system of real-time feedback can help you stay connected to your employees, keep everyone focused on mission, and stay alert to problems before they become crises.

These strategies will help you launch real-time feedback with your team:

Set clear and objective goals

Every member of your staff deserves to know what success means in their job, and how success will be measured. Setting clear, well defined goals for every position in your practice eliminates the worry that employees feel when they go into a traditional performance review, wondering what surprises are in store for them. And a less-worried employee can focus better on a real discussion of what’s working and what isn’t.

Cultivate a two-way conversation

Accountability is important for performance. So are using metrics and measurable goals to set specific, objective benchmarks for employees to reach. But not every conversation needs to focus on those numbers. Quarterly check-ins are a great time to sit down and go over metrics linked to performance.

Just as important? A constructive, ongoing dialogue that focus on the process that delivers results. It’s an open and supportive two-way conversation that celebrates wins as well as addressing areas for improvement.

Connect as allies, not adversaries

An Us versus Them mentality undermines trust and loyalty. It’s a lot harder to motivate teams when you’re on opposite sides of the table. When we work as allies we get more done, earn more trust, and build stronger bonds of loyalty.

How can you be an ally for your staff? Be clear and transparent about expectations. Make yourself available to give guidance and clarification. Focus on solutions, rather than blame. Acknowledge your own mistakes—and celebrate others’ success.

Stop talking. Listen instead.

Managers don’t have to take the lead in every one of these conversations. You’ll learn more if you listen. Your team members are in the trenches running the daily operations of your practice. Let them tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Then work together to identify solutions.

A dedicated team is your practice’s most valuable asset. Get your FREE copy of my guide, the Patient Visit Multiplier, packed with proven strategies for your team to put to use in boosting referrals and reducing cancellations.