Performance Reviewing Your Dental Team

Performance reviews are a crucial part of performance management and ensuring you have the best team in your dental practice. They allow each employee to receive feedback – such as praise for outstanding contributions, suggestions for areas for improvement, or to plan for professional and personal by setting goals and outcomes for the year ahead.

Avoid These Performance Review Mistakes

Performance reviews can strike fear into the heart of every employee but also into the heart of the manager conducting them. But done well and planned well they can be enlightening and help bring out the best in your team or reveal to you where you haven’t been honest enough and have been tolerating poor performance and not providing enough feedback.

Now the biggest mistake dentist make when it comes to reviewing their employees is 1) they simply don’t do it or 2) leaving all the feedback until the annual review – if you have a poor performer by then it’s too late and much harder to terminate someone if you have not followed fair process and given opportunity to improve.

Tips For Dental Team Reviews

My tip is to hold a monthly check in with your new employees for the first 6 months of probation period – let them know where they are up to speed and where they are not – highlight your concerns, give clear expectations of what you want to see instead and offer support and training to get them up to standard.

These meetings usually take 15-30minutes and are very valuable. Make sure you document the meetings and what the issues and agreements were.

Then you can move to 3 monthly check-ins and annual review.

When to hold performance reviews

When you hold the review is entirely up to you, personally I like to do it around the employees work anniversary but you may choose to do all your reviews in June or January – and hey it’s your dental practice so its totally up to you.

As I stated the process of reviewing employee performance should be ongoing.

Aim to discuss each employee’s development with them as and when issues arise, rather than putting it off until a formal review. This keeps the lines of communication open, as it helps to ensure that nothing in a formal performance review will come as a complete surprise.

Make regular notes throughout the year of each employee’s performance – good, bad and mediocre. This will allow you to accumulate information that can be discussed during the reviews and give you a more rounded picture of the employee’s contribution and professional growth since their last review.

Review their KPI’s, metrics, as well as alignment/fit to your values and culture.

Preparing for performance reviews

Prior to each meeting, draft an agenda to follow. Key points to be covered should include:

  • Goals or KPIs and how well they have met these
  • Areas where they have excelled
  • Areas where improvement is needed
  • Have your employees to assess their own performance also with a self-analysis can be as simple as considering the goals each employee achieved – or missed.
  • Ask them to record their wins, challenges and any roadblocks they’ve encountered

During the performance review, typical points to consider and discuss are:

  • Quality of work and ability to meet particular metrics
  • Dependability and punctuality
  • Leadership, communication and team skills
  • Progress made towards personal career goals
  • Innovation and problem-solving skills
  • Competency in their role

At the end of the review there should be some key actions for the employee to take and a follow-up strategy – training, further education, courses, goals, KPIs, expectations and set the next check in date.

Example of a written performance review

Performance reviews should be completed with a written record of the employee’s performance.

A performance review example is noted below:

Tanya is working beyond expectations in her role as junior dental assistant. She brings a positive attitude to her role, copes well with pressure and has a consistent eye for detail.

Tanya is able to work well within a team and demonstrates the ability to work without supervision. She has volunteered to be involved in a number of special projects, and she has developed outstanding relationships with a wide range of clients.

Tanya has strong communication skills and is eager to progress her career, however she would benefit from additional development and training to further her knowledge of infection control and instrument maintenance.

Tips for great performance reviews

Be aware of the setting, sitting in your office across a big desk is not the most relaxing environment. Consider conducting a staff review in a more casual setting like local café to make the performance review less intimidating,

Maintain a balanced discussion make a point of providing positive feedback as this can help to maintain motivation as well as letting staff know what they’re doing well. Balance the conversation with constructive criticism that lets them know where their performance could be improved.

Where weakness is identified, highlight options for further training and professional development or discuss opportunities to be mentored. This allows each staff member to know you are offering solutions to encourage professional growth.

Handled professionally and thoughtfully, a performance review can be a win-win for everyone, leaving staff re-energised and clear about what is expected of them in their role and you knowing you have a clear documented process to help bring out the best in your people.