Managers' Monday: Using 360-degree employee evaluations

Managers' Monday: Using 360-degree employee evaluations

Going full circle gives team members input and provides a more comprehensive report
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Sep 22, 2008
Editors' note: This article continues our weekly series of tips for veterinary practice managers. See the Related Links below to read previous articles.

Evaluating your employees' performance is no simple task. Fortunately, the responsibility doesn't have to be yours alone. A 360-degree evaluation process captures opinions and feedback from the entire circle of the practice team, including management, the team member's peers and coworkers, and the employee herself. This generates a more objective—and accurate—evaluation than one manager can provide.

SETTING STANDARDS
The first step to performing a 360-degree evaluation process is to develop the right form. The rating system on this form shouldn't involve numbers or "grades" of any sort; instead, it should include these choices: Met Standard, Did Not Meet Standard, or Exceeded Standard. For those superstars in your practice, you may even want to include Greatly Exceeded Standard. The form itself should contain four sections:

1. Objectives: These are the goals that the employee has been working on during the most recent evaluation period. For example, during her last review, a technician might have agreed that she needed to learn how to read CBC differentials. This section is where you evaluate her progress.

2. Soft skills: These are the skills that every employee needs to possess to succeed as part of the team. For example, the practice might need all employees to exhibit cooperation. This section should also include overall ratings for job knowledge and job performance.

3. Needs improvement: Here's where you outline future goals the employee needs to reach. For example, you and an employee might agree that the employee needs to do a better job of capturing and entering charges on invoices.

4. Performance plan: In this section, you set measurable and quantifiable targets for agreed-upon goals. For example, the employee could strive for a 20 percent improvement in entering charges during the next evaluation period.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Now that you've developed the final form, divide it into two pieces to create a true 360-degree evaluation process:

Self-evaluation: Each employee uses this form to comment on his or her own success in reaching the goals and objectives agreed upon previously and to point out areas where they need to improve. The self-evaluation form focuses on sections one, three, and four.

Peer evaluation: This form is distributed to the employee's coworkers, who provide their comments on the employee's skills. The peer evaluation focuses on section two, since those working side-by-side with the employee can offer a more valid perspective on such skills as leadership, initiative, and teamwork than you or the employee would provide yourselves.

NEXT STEPS
The next action steps are:

Two weeks before the evaluation meeting: Assign the self-evaluation and peer evaluations. Ideally, you'll receive six to eight peer evaluations for each employee, so assign the form to enough co-workers and supervisors to reach this number. Ask for all forms to be returned to you in one week, and schedule a meeting with the employee at that time.

One week before the evaluation meeting: Collect the peer evaluations and meet with the employee to review her self-evaluation. You can discuss future goals, but they only need to be documented on the final evaluation form. Also at this time, note any discrepancies between your opinions and those of the employee regarding her performance, so you know how to prepare for the final evaluation meeting.

Evaluation meeting: This final meeting is often a summary of the self-evaluation meeting that has already taken place. It's also a time to review the final written evaluation, which should now include definitive goals as well as anonymous comments from the peer evaluations. It's important that peer evaluation comments be kept confidential and anonymous.

As a manager, you can rest easier knowing that your opinion does not count alone in the evaluation process. Feedback from the team member's coworkers is invaluable in the process, as is input from the employee him- or herself. The evaluation itself reflects the past but focuses on the future, and it provides an opportunity to create success for the employee and the practice.

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