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Learning to Love Employee Evaluations
Ann Geier
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Staffing

Ann Geier, RN, MS, CNOR Employee evaluations can make us all cringe. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end, it's easy to view evaluations as a time-consuming nuisance, a pre-raise formality, even a source of conflict and bitterness. But what if instead of dreading the process, you cherished it as a chance to devote your undivided attention to discussing goals and exchanging views on how staff and center can better serve one another? As you'll see in these six tips for making employee evaluations time well spent, it's all a matter of perception.

Ann Geier, RN, MS, CNOR\

1. Have the right attitude
As with so many things in life, it's all in how you look at employee evaluations. You can set the stage for a productive meeting by going in with the attitude that the evaluation presents time for an uninterrupted discussion about the employee's performance, including problems and areas in need of improvement. Conversely, the session can be an ordeal if you view it as the annual 15-minute ritual in which management offers the cost-of-living raise.

The evaluation can turn antagonistic if it's handled poorly. Year-round communication is crucial to a productive evaluation. Not every evaluation will go smoothly, but there should be no major surprises. The evaluation isn't the time or place to inform employees of specific criticisms for the first time.

2. Do evaluations on time
Promptness is key to showing staff you treat the process with the attention it deserves. Staff evaluations shouldn't be late, as you're usually dealing with pay increases. Ask employees to share the responsibility by notifying you if the evaluation date is approaching and you've yet to speak to them about coordinating a time.

An Employee Evaluation Checklist

? Allow time to prepare.
? Give a self-evaluation form to the employee (it can be a great tool for learning and discussion).
? Provide written goals and time frames to discuss.
? Prepare absenteeism/ tardiness data.
? Check out the education/in-service education hours for the employee.
? Give a job description to the employee to review and sign.

? Use the available preparation time to think about what you would like to discuss. Some may find it helpful to write down the topics of concern and talking points.
? Fill out the self-evaluation honestly and completely, if given the opportunity.
? Prepare and make copies of any supporting documents to bring to the meeting with you.

3. Prepare thoroughly
The amount of time the administrator and the staff member spend preparing for the evaluation is proportional to the productive use of meeting time and to the satisfactory discussion of performance and work environment issues. It's helpful to create a checklist for things to do before and during the meeting (see "An Employee Evaluation Checklist").

4. Keep it private and unhurried
To create an atmosphere of open discussion, keep the evaluation away from prying eyes and ears. Either hold the meeting in a private area and keep the door closed or, even better, meet outside the center.

Set aside plenty of time for the meeting and give the employee your undivided attention. There should be no interruptions (barring an emergency such as a fire or a code blue). Turn off your computer screen and send all calls to voice mail. Set aside at least an hour for discussion and don't hesitate to run a bit longer if need be. Offer some coffee or a soft drink and settle in for the evaluation.

5. Read evaluations before you meet
Before you begin the discussion, review the employee's self-evaluation and let each employee review the written evaluations you've prepared. If there are exemplary ratings or if there's a need for improvement, spell out the reasons you assigned such high or low ratings. Include any comments from patients, physicians or peers.

More Outpatient Centers Turn To Outsourcing To Fill Vacancies

You may soon be seeing more per diem and contract agency nurses in your outpatient facility, especially if you work in the hospital setting. While demand for many outsourced services is in full wane, the same cannot be said for per diem and agency nurses.

"We are definitely seeing an uptick in requests for nurses," says Evan Burks, the senior vice president of staffing firm Comforce Corp., whose nursing division is among its fastest growing. It engages in so-called rightsourcing - managing all short-term nurses from all staffing agencies a hospital deals with. "First, the nurse staffing shortage is not going to lighten up any time soon. Then there's the new mandated patient ratios - that's more stress where there's already a shortage."

According to Mr. Burks, the surprise is that hospitals are requesting more staff for their med/surg departments, and not just in critical care or labor and delivery, traditionally high-demand areas.

- Stephanie Wasek

6. Be sure to cover these areas
During the face-to-face evaluation, be sure to:

  • review facility and employee goals for the next year, provide the employee with your views on how she can best serve the center in the future and ask how you can better serve her as a manager;
  • discuss areas of conflict on the evaluation, including plans of action to correct those areas that need improvement;
  • agree on a timeframe for achieving needed improvements; and
  • ask if the employee has any questions about the written evaluation or the issues you've discussed.

Before the session ends, the employee should sign the evaluation. If the employee vehemently disputes the evaluation, give the person the opportunity to write comments on the evaluation form before signing. If an employee still refuses to sign, indicate such on the evaluation; in rare cases, you may want to bring in a third party as a witness to the refusal to sign (without telling that person any aspect of the dispute).

For you and for them, a pivotal time
There are many employees who do a good job every day, and they need to hear it from their manager. The evaluation is a good time to reinforce your positive relationship and exchange constructive suggestions for further improvement. For those staffers who don't regularly provide their best work and attitude, the evaluation can serve as a turning point to improve your working relationship and the employee's performance.