Staff Management

The Employee Performance Reviews Making Us More Profitable

By Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD,
and Jessica Licausi, OD, FAAO, FCOVD

Nov. 17, 2021

Employee performance reviews keep your practice’s workforce on track, enabling staff to serve your patients well and help you grow your business. Here is how we manage performance reviews to ensure we have employees who are able to support our quest for great patient care and profitability.

Start With a Self-Assessment
We have our employees fill out a self-assessment in which they grade themselves on specific criteria and outline their strengths and weaknesses prior to sitting down for a face-to-face meeting with us. We also ask them to set professional goals for themselves for the upcoming year.

Getting our employee’s take on their performance, and how they see their role in our office, helps us understand their perspective. This often springboards into a conversation of how they’ve grown and where we see their role evolving in the future. Investing time and energy into our staff is important to us. We want them to thrive, feel accomplished and take on new challenges.

Employee Self-Assessment

Click HERE to download a copy of the self-assessment Drs. Licausi and Zilnicki ask employees to fill out ahead of their performance reviews.

We also like to use performance reviews to encourage employees to tell us anything they think WE can improve upon. Our door is always open, but performance reviews are an ideal time for employees to share their thoughts and ideas.

Set Aside Time Specifically for Employee Performance Reviews
We block out part of our schedule to do employee reviews during office hours. We are huge proponents of finding and maintaining family-work life balance. For that reason, we strive to conduct all employee business during office hours. We allot 30 minutes per employee and always try our best to both be present at the reviews. It is important to us to both be present as a united team when having important discussions with our employees, and prioritize this as much as we can.

We sit down with each other about a week prior to the meetings to discuss each employee’s performance, go through the employee’s responses to the self-assessment questions, and discuss if bonuses, raises or extra vacation time are warranted.

Let the Employee Start the Discussion
We have the employee come into our office, and we sit down together with no distractions present. We have them start by discussing how they filled out their self-assessment. We have the employee start the conversation to get their nerves out. Regardless of how long they’ve been with us, we find every employee is always anxious leading up to the meeting.

We then let the employee know if we agree with their assessment of their performance. We take the time to highlight areas of their job where they are thriving and doing well. On the self-assessment, we ask employees about the areas of their job where they think they can improve. We find that most people are acutely aware of where they are lacking in performance. At this point in the meeting, we talk about strategies for improving weaknesses and potential snags in the systems within the office that are preventing them from reaching their full potential.

This conversation then naturally flows into future goals the employee has for themselves personally and professionally. We encourage all our employees to take on new roles and certifications that help them, and, in turn, us.

For example, our patient care coordinator recently brought to our attention during her review the time and energy it takes for us to get documents notarized. We deal with Workman’s Comp and No-Fault for many of our concussion patients, so our record requests sometimes come with notary requests. In addition, we also work with school districts that request notarization of contracts. That means that frequently one of us must run to the bank to get notarization or we have to schedule a notary to come to us. She told us one of her goals is to become a notary. We think this is a great idea both for her and for us. We are planning to pay for the course and certification.

We then wrap up by discussing earned increases in compensation, whether it be a raise or a bonus. An effective way to reward your employees beyond monetary means is to give bonus vacation time.

Focus on Specific Actions to Take to Improve Weaknesses
We always like to lead with positivity and conduct the conversation in a manner that encourages HOW we can improve weaknesses, rather than focusing solely on the weaknesses. We schedule a follow-up review, usually in 90 days, to allow for growth in the areas discussed and evaluate how things are improving. Checking in again soon, rather than waiting one more year, helps facilitate growth in areas of decreased performance.

For example, one of our lead vision therapist’s responsibilities is to take inventory of the vision therapy equipment and home therapy equipment and keep the active patient therapy bins up to date. We found recently that these supplies were not there when we needed them, inventory was low and bins for patients were not cleaned out after completion. At her review she brought this up to us on her own as an area for improvement.

We had a lengthy discussion of where the system was not working and how to improve. One of our solutions was to set aside time during the week for her to complete these tasks, but after speaking with us, it became more of a conversation about time management and utilizing time she already had in her schedule more efficiently. She ultimately decided that she didn’t need additional time added to her schedule, but rather, to better manage her time to ensure these tasks get done.

Use Employee Reviews for Ideas to Spur Efficiency & Profitability
Our office manager is a “jack of all trades,” running our reception area, along with serving as office manager. She noted during her review that answering phones and calling to confirm upcoming patient appointments was taking up time that she could allot to other tasks. She researched and found a program called Weave that integrates with our EHR system. The program assists with text confirmations and streamlines the phone answering system.

For example, if she is on the other line and no one else in the office is able to answer the phone, Weave sends an automated text message directly to the patient. We took what she said to heart and invested in the technology. It was a significant cost upfront, but in the long-run, it has made us more profitable.

With more streamlined communication with our patients, especially by confirming every patient one week and one day prior to their appointments, our no-show rate is down significantly. Our office manager has also been freed up to concentrate on other tasks within the office.

Reviews are incredibly important and should be prioritized. Sure, it is time consuming prepping, and then conducting them, but ultimately it is time well spent because performance reviews get everyone in the office on the same page and moving toward the same goals. Communication is critical in any relationship. Having this open communication with your employees about their successes, failures and futures expectations is the key to success!

Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD, and Jessica
Licausi, OD, FAAO,
FCOVD, are co-owners of Twin Forks Optometry and Vision Therapy in Riverhead, NY.

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