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Transition to Rehab Management

Performance Appraisals

Published December 6, 2013 3:51 PM by Karen Schiff

One of the toughest parts of management is coming into a facility where there hasn't been management previously, and evaluating the performance of staff for the previous year. On one hand, there hadn't been supportive leadership until they brought aboard a director from another facility, who singlehandedly took care of the high and medium performers, while giving a chance to the lowest performers due to the fact they hadn't received mentoring previously. On the other hand, they realized they were all accountable for their performance, and had been informed of this before my arrival a year ago.

As this year has progressed, I've painstakingly performed many performance appraisals, and although I consider myself a friendly, supportive and approachable leader, I find that some professionals aren't in agreement with their appraisal, and are quite surprised that they haven't been performing in an exceptional or outstanding manner. Kudos to the director who overtook this department and set the standard, establishing a new frontier with myself and the inpatient manager by putting all standards down on paper.

No longer will staff question what they need to do in order to achieve an outstanding appraisal (well, perhaps some will), since a tool to measure performance has been developed to objectively evaluate the previous year of service. As with everything, there will be evaluations where tears are shed due to being informed they can do better and others who refuse to sign their evaluation because they don't agree with the grade they receive (even with the necessary components spelled out).

It's a true art to be able to share with an employee the truth; however, it shouldn't be a surprise if done correctly (i.e., coaching and counseling employees regarding concerns as they happen, not at the time of the annual appraisal). An open-door policy established from day one certainly assists in this open communication. What I've learned most recently, however, is that episodes of coaching weren't expected to be brought up at the time of evaluation.

To balance the tumultuous life of management, home, and somewhat of a social life, I've taken to becoming a homebody. What better way to approach the holiday season than to reflect on what I've done, what I'm doing, and what is yet to come. Striving to be the best at everything I do, leading the highest and mentoring the medium performers in my professional life is only half of it. What I do at home to improve my skills off the clock is what I continually attempt to improve, even on the most difficult days in the office.

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What exactly do you mean by high and low performers?  I am not sure if you rate this on productivity, the amount of patient education given, or patient feedback on surveys.  Your employee handbook better detail what is expected of your therapy staff, if it does not, how do you rate the employees?  

Karen December 8, 2013 12:17 AM

I agree wholeheartedly that anything on an appraisal should not be a surprise. If it is, the manager has not done their role properly for the previous year. Coaching, counselling, as well as praise should be given through the year and documented where appropriate. This makes for evidence based management and supports the grades assigned. End of year appraisal should be a summary discussion of the previous year and a solid action plan for the year ahead, not a confrontational argument.

Good luck as you tackle changing what sounds like an ingrained culture.

Dean Metz December 7, 2013 7:40 AM

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