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Illinois manager develops unique staff review system that does it all

An Illinois manager has developed a review system that, besides determining raises, increases communication throughout the office and also promotes teamwork.

The process is referred to as a 360-degree evaluation, and everybody reviews everybody – she and the doctors review the staff, and the staff turn around and review them plus their peers plus themselves. And to keep the communication and teamwork open, the reviewing is repeated every six months. It all begins with a staff self-appraisal, which the manager calls the most important part because it holds staff accountable for their performance. They write answers to these questions:

— Has this period been good/bad/satisfactory or otherwise for you? Why?

— What was your most important achievement?

— What do you like and dislike about working here?

— What elements of your job are most difficult?

— What elements interest you most? Least?

— How could you improve your performance?

— What training would benefit you?

Staff also rate how well they met their goals during the past six months and then propose new goals for the next period. Following that, staff rate themselves in judgment, steadiness under pressure, integrity, job knowledge, meeting deadlines, attitude, teamwork, time management, and personal appearance.

Next, a peer appraisal

Next is the peer rating section, and here staff answer only two questions:

— Do you feel your co-workers work together as a team? Why or why not?

— How do you think your co-workers would describe you?

To ensure candor, there’s a note saying the answers will not affect promotions or raises but will be used solely to improve job skills and the work environment. The peer evaluations have given staff a sense of cohesiveness, the manager says. In the past, “they didn’t seem to like each other very much,” she says, but they have since become helpful to one another, and criticism has moved from nitpicky to constructive.

Now for the management

The third section is the appraisal of the physician management, and staff answer these questions:

— Which describes our management: authoritarian (makes decisions with no employee input) or democratic (discusses problems with employees, makes decisions jointly)?

— Which of those would be the ideal? Why?

— What is our management’s best characteristic?

— If you were management, what would you do to improve the work environment?

That’s followed by questions about the individual doctor the staffer works for:

— How can your doctor improve feedback (positive and negative) to you?

— How can your doctor improve your overall performance?

— Do you get the resources you need? If not, what do you need to excel?

— Do you need more training in any area?

— Do you feel your employment has an impact on the office? If not, why?

The staffer then scores the physician in areas such as judgment, integrity, adaptability, communication, and promoting employee development.

And then there’s the appraisal of the manager herself:

— How can I improve your quality of life at work?

— Do you have access to the resources within the office? If not, what do you need to excel?

— Do I address concerns about you constructively?

— If you were the manager, what would you do differently?

The staffer then scores the manager on judgment, integrity, and so on.

Here’s what we think about you

In the last section, the physician and the manager each give the staffer a numerical rating in a lot of areas: work ethic, ability to get along with others, seriousness about the job, organization, ability to work without supervision, attention to detail, work quality, punctuality, personal appearance, helpfulness, being a self-starter, willingness to accept responsibility, respect for others, problem solving, flexibility, and the ability to meet deadlines.

They also finalize the new objectives for the next six months. Those are usually things such as learning a new skill so the staffer can help out in another area. The manager adds that it’s essential to get the physicians’ remarks because physicians don’t always mention staff issues, which means a performance problem might otherwise not get addressed. What’s more, staff aren’t always aware that they need to improve. When they started comparing their self-ratings to those the physicians gave them, the manager says”they sort of woke up.”

A little light conversation

The manager goes over the completed appraisal with the staffer and in doing so follows a specific order. She starts out by telling the staffer whatever salary increase is due. That needs to go first, she says, or the staffer “will be thinking about that the whole time.” Next she goes over all the positives. Then she talks about the areas needing improvement – for the staffer, the office, and herself. Then comes a discussion of the new objectives. And that’s followed by a little casual conversation. Taking those few minutes at the wrap-up to talk about “how is it going?” goes a long way to building a constructive relationship.

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