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Appraisals are important for staff performance

Staff appraisals - more than a procedure

By Karen Crouch
Making sure employees have a clear path for professional development is an important part of running a successful practice. KAREN CROUCH explains how an effective review can keep staff happy and motivated.

As the financial year draws to a close most organisations will have now completed their annual budgets for the upcoming year, which of course includes remuneration costs. While it may be mathematically straightforward to estimate next year’s costs, remuneration is far more than just a budgetary exercise as it involves a practice’s the most valuable resource – employees.

Assessing remuneration should be based on a thorough review of each member’s performance over a preceding employment period. Additionally, other key benefits that may be derived from a meaningful staff appraisal program include practice owners ensuring the highest quality service to patients, staff members achieving greater job satisfaction, and greater harmony in the workplace.

Staff appraisals are an effective management tool that should yield the following benefits for individuals, the practice and the practice owner.

Relationship Building: A vital opportunity for face-to-face, personal discussion, strengthening the bond between employers and staff members. By seeking staff feedback on practice operations through 360 degree reviews, it signals the employer’s respect for opinions from all staff;

"Staff appraisals are an effective management tool that should yield the following benefits for individuals, the practice and the practice owner"

Performance Management: Provides the opportunity to say ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ for good work while allowing for frank, constructive discussion to improve performance in areas where a staff member is less effective; and

Personal Development: Expresses sincere employer interest in employees’ personal career development, possibly even extending beyond just job performance.

The program

It is timely to consider the entire staff appraisal program so it is not treated as any other routine exercise.

In larger practices it may be a time-consuming exercise that needs to be completed without the interference of day-to-day patient care and practice operations. Consequently, a meaningful starting point should be an organisation chart clearly indicating the person to whom each employee is directly accountable. In some cases, such as the practice manager, the number of appraisals could be onerous and may require sharing with other senior staff who also have direct dealings with the employee.

A pre-printed staff appraisal form should be available to assessors and staff so there is advance notice of the subject areas that will be addressed. Ideally, it should also contain the expressed mission and values of the practice to which employees are expected to live up to.

AFT Pharmaceuticals

Effective appraisal programs should be:

  • Continuous and consistently undertaken

  • Positive and interactive

  • A comparison of actual performance to set targets and objectives

  • Relative to practice personnel policies

  • An opportunity to motivate staff

  • Identify relevant training needs

  • Welcome feedback from staff.

An appraisal program should also touch on personal attributes or areas of group involvement, such as:

  • Quality and quantity of work - efficiency

  • Assigned responsibilities and initiative displayed - performance

  • Whether supervision is frequently required – self motivation

  • Attitudes to practice, staff and fit with internal culture - business values

  • Attendance and punctuality - reliability

  • Communication and interpersonal skills – teamwork.

Time frames

Staff Appraisals should be geared to address two separate time periods:

  • Performance Review (past 6-12 months): Assessment of quality and quantity of work performed during preceding months, affording staff an opportunity to assess their own performances and provide feedback on practice operations or personnel generally;

  • Development Review (upcoming 6-12 months): Jointly agreed upon plan for development of each employee aimed at improving career opportunities and personal contribution to the practice. The agreed development plan, including targets and objectives for upcoming 12 months, should form the basis of the following year’s performance review.

While a full-blown assessment may be inappropriate for recently employed staff their performance must be maintained at satisfactory levels. Depending on their length of service, an interim assessment may be considered.

A regular staff appraisal program can improve quality and quantity of work. It can also lift practice standards and image.

Staff appraisals are linked to productivity, time management and professional development through formal education and training, which subsequently provides career opportunities and greater staff satisfaction.

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