Click. The door closes, and it's just you and your manager. Your mind races as you mentally file through your duties. Answer
phones. Check. Provide estimates. Check. Work as a team. Sort of. Improve on last year's weak spots. Hmm, what were those?
This is scary territory. You're not sure what your review will be about, let alone how to come out shining.
There's no reason to suffer through the unknown when it comes to performance reviews. When I talk to managers about how to
conduct reviews, I always tell them, "No surprises." But the same doesn't hold true for team members. Surprising your manager
by actively participating in your review is a good thing. Involving yourself sends the message that you care about what your
manager thinks, and, more importantly, that you value the opportunity to be a successful part of the practice team. So use
this advice to help you prepare for, take ownership of, and maximize your review. When the office door opens, you'll be sure
to emerge with a sunny career outlook.
Dr. Christine Merle
Review your job description
First, think about your main responsibilities and the skills required to accomplish them. Are you both knowledgeable and proficient?
In other words, do you know what it takes to do your job, and are you able to do it? For example, let's say you're responsible
for restraining patients. You probably learned how to do this on day one. But knowing the physical steps and being able to
carry them out are different. If you're proficient, you might be able to predict which restraint method will work best for
the specific patient in front of you. And you'll be able to restrain that patient without much effort.
Be honest with yourself about your skills. It's important to realize you might not be the best at everything, especially if
certain duties aren't part of your regular repertoire. For example, if you're the only surgical assistant, you'll exercise
your restraint techniques more frequently and achieve a higher level of expertise than an exam room assistant whose daily
responsibilities likely require greater proficiency in client communication.
Also understand that the time it takes to perfect skills varies a lot between individuals. Some people possess innate talents
in certain areas. So during your review, emphasize the tasks that you successfully perform as a regular part of your job.
And be ready to discuss the techniques you haven't mastered—yet.
Highlight your attributes
Do you have the reputation of being the practice cat whisperer? Do clients who need reassurance about their pets' care seem
to flock in your direction? All veterinary team members possess personal characteristics that allow them to bring value to
the practice beyond their job descriptions. But people often shy away from talking about their additional talents because
they're afraid it will sound like bragging. It won't. You must help your manager glimpse your positive reputation, especially
when he or she doesn't get to witness it firsthand. How?
In short: Provide examples. Gather specific cases from your co-workers in which your forte for defusing conflict resulted
in a happy client, for instance. Take note of how often team members and clients seek you out based on that extra something
you bring to the situation. Better yet, start a work diary and write down the events of each day. When you look back at your
entries, you may even discover a talent or reputation you didn't realize you had.
How often do practices hold reviews?
But don't get carried away with your list. Providing 25 examples of how your client-education strategies improved compliance,
along with the names of patients and the dates of appointments, won't always win points with your manager. A couple statements
about your good works allow your reputation to speak for itself in terms of your contributions to the practice. If you aren't
sure whether your special talents are valuable or if you haven't been able to pinpoint your reputation, ask your manager.
She'll be happy to tell you.
Remember, reputations can be positive or negative. If you fear a negative reputation follows you, use the same process to
tackle it head on. Gather information from your co-workers to identify any instances that were problematic. During your review,
take ownership of your reputation. Share what you've uncovered with your manager, and seek her advice on ways to turn it around.
Develop a plan
While examining your talents, you'll probably identify areas where you can improve. Help your manager help you by brainstorming
a possible action plan for accomplishing these improvements.
Your blueprint for change should include timetables for completion, as well as potential training opportunities. As you develop
your strategy, consider the time and expense the practice might bear. Then present the plan during your review. Be prepared
to refine it based on your manager's input.
Performance reviews shouldn't be a source of anxiety. When you attend yours, be sure you're armed with your own job assessment
and improvement plan. As a result, you may just gain a reputation as a rising star with leadership potential.
Dr. Christine Merle, MBA, CVPM, is a practice management consultant with Brakke Consulting in Dallas. She shares her home
with a husband, dog, cat, and horse. Send comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org