Performance reviews in your dental practice hold nearly innumerable benefits. That being said, creating and delivering a high-quality performance review takes time — something that is in short supply in most busy practices.
As such, it can be tempting to skip what is sometimes seen as a high-stress formality in favor of casual on-the-spot feedback. Of course, something is to be said for this type of casual dental performance review. However, a strictly informal approach carries risk. More importantly, a dental performance review offers critical benefits that simply can't be achieved with an occasional impromptu conversation.
What Are Employee Performance Reviews?
Delivering exceptional patient care requires your team's full attention, so losing sight of each employee's professional achievements, skills gaps, and goals is easy. A dental performance review is an opportunity to pause and reflect.
The best reviews consider data from multiple sources, including employees' self-evaluations, then offer objective feedback on the year's accomplishments and challenges. These reviews go on to set goals for the upcoming performance period, outlining specific action plans to support team members in reaching their objectives.
What Are the Benefits of Conducting a Performance Review for Dental Employees?
The benefits of conducting a performance review extend to employers and employees. These conversations contribute to open, transparent relationships in which employees know exactly where they stand. You can identify areas where they are doing well and any concerns you have.
Creating a formal process to document performance doesn't replace ongoing conversations throughout the year but enhances the quality of those discussions. Team members understand the standards by which they are being measured, so there are no surprises as you work together to care for your patients.
Take a dental hygienist performance review as an example. If your dental hygienist isn't following your patient protocol, offering feedback in the moment may turn things around. If the issue persists, note it on the performance evaluation, along with a clear action plan you can discuss in the dental hygienist’s performance review. Both you and your hygienist can monitor progress against the stated goals in the following weeks. In this regard, dental performance reviews fulfill a critical function: Dental providers can use this performance appraisal to improve employee accomplishment, set metrics for improvement, and ensure that necessary employee development skills are utilized.
As unfortunate as it may be, dental performance reviews are not just for your team, but also for your own benefit. If an employee fails to meet benchmarks, you and your patients deserve to know. In this regard, a dental hygienist performance review or a front office assistant performance evaluation can uncover problems and ensure that employees meet goals at a review meeting.
When making employment decisions — including decisions around promotions, compensation, training, and discipline — a performance review is constructive in documenting the considered factors. Should there be a need to separate the employee, there are records that show the employee knew the expectations, understood their performance against those expectations, and was offered an opportunity to correct any deficiencies.
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How Performance Reviews Simplify Promotion Decisions in Dentistry
Dental performance reviews represent an essential opportunity to document current skills and the skills that need improvement for team members interested in moving to the next level with their practice. For example, you may have a hygienist interested in becoming the team lead, or your receptionist may want to step up to the insurance coordinator role. In these instances, a dental hygienist performance review or medical office assistant performance evaluation is required.
For the sake of your dental practice, you must facilitate open discussions on employees' career goals. From there, document the specific steps they can take to reach those goals. If you need to see changes in certain behaviors, like improvements in teamwork or more of an effort to incorporate professional development into practices, note that in the annual performance review. If some particular courses or certifications would be helpful, list those as well. Employees benefit from a clear understanding of their responsibilities, and you have the documentation necessary to show why one employee was selected over another for promotion in your practice.
How Performance Reviews Ensure Fair, Equitable Compensation
A consistent, objective performance review process is even more critical if your dental practice offers merit or performance-based compensation. Decisions around pay can be tricky, and mishandling can lead to hurt feelings, disengagement, and, in worst-case scenarios, discrimination claims.
With formal performance reviews, you provide employees with clear feedback that supports decisions around pay increases. Ideally, employees will understand and accept your decision due to the information detailed in the performance review. However, if they don't, you are better protected if you are in a situation where you must justify the compensation decisions. This is another example of how dental performance reviews can not only give you a chance to provide constructive feedback but also increase your dental workers' ability to get paid what they deserve.
How Performance Reviews Help in Identifying Training Gaps
As you move through the performance review process, you will likely identify areas where employees need to build their skills. For example, during a dental hygienist performance review, you may discover your dental hygienist needs refresher training on x-rays or radiology. This is an excellent chance to create a development plan that sets team members on the right track to achieve movement and development goals before their following review. By working together to customize an action plan that works for the employee and your office, you can increase engagement, support future performance improvement, and document progress against goals — a win for you, your team members, and your patients.
How Performance Reviews Reduce Risks Associated with Disciplinary Action
Disciplinary action is everyone's least-favorite topic, but avoiding the problem won't make it go away. When left unmanaged, poor performance, unacceptable behavior, and policy violations tend to worsen. The performance review process is the right time to point out these deficiencies.
You can outline the specific performance that needs improvement, the behaviors that need to stop, the policies that must be complied with within the review, and the expectations team members must meet while they work in your practice. This is easier to accomplish if the policies and expectations have already been outlined in your employee handbook.
Spend some time discussing the performance concerns with your employee, and offer them the opportunity to be heard. Next, attempt to identify the root causes or roadblocks preventing them from meeting performance goals. This step opens up the lines of communication, making it more likely that performance will improve in your dental practice. Improved performance is the best possible outcome, as termination is costly and disruptive to your practice.
Set time-bound goals and list milestones along the way to ensure continuous progress. If those goals are not met within the required timeframe, you are well-positioned to address additional disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
Developing performance reviews in your dental practice can indeed be time-consuming, but when the process is handled correctly, these documents save time and trouble in the long run. In addition, employees benefit from receiving recognition for their achievements throughout the year, and they have an opportunity to improve in areas where they aren't quite measuring up.
You benefit from an objective, consistent system of documenting the performance in making employment decisions. That reduces your risk of becoming entangled in allegations of unfair treatment. Most of all, the performance review process can motivate employees to improve skills and step up their performance, which benefits your practice and your patients.
At one time, performance reviews were strictly paper-based, which made it much more challenging to gather information, create the document, ensure all appropriate signatures, and store them in a way that made them easy to find when needed. The good news is that advanced technology has made paper all but obsolete. Today's performance management software handles the logistics from start to finish — from creating and collecting employees' self-evaluations to storing finished, electronically signed documents for easy retrieval.
How HR for Health Can Help
If you are looking for more information on improving your dental performance reviews and ensuring that all of your employees have the feedback they need, contact HR for Health today. We can help set up a robust employee performance review process that can increase the ability of your team to serve your patients. Contact us today, set up a free, fifteen-minute call, and learn how HR for Health can help your practice.
Learn more about the tools and resources available by contacting HR for Health here.