3 Performance Management Best Practices for Healthcare

Marketing Specialist

The competition for top healthcare talent remains fierce. Healthcare organizations see an average turnover of about 30 percent in employees’ first year, according to the HealthcareSource Blog. Twenty percent of healthcare staff report feeling ambivalent or disengaged.

Too often healthcare workers are simply told “you need to do the following 25 things,” says John Lutz, Principal at ECG Management Consultants, consistently rated as one of the top healthcare consultancies in the U.S. Instead, performance management needs to sync with the overall mission of the organization.

Aligning Feedback with the Mission

When workers feel disconnected from their mission, performance lags and outcomes decline. The overarching goal of performance management should be to show each employee how their role contributes to the goals and objectives of the organization — including direct healthcare providers, administrators, and support staff.

“The doctor could be doing a great job, the nurse could be doing a great job, but if the person the patient is interacting with who cleans the room is doing a bad job, what do you think the patient is going to remember?” Lutz says.

The best-performing healthcare organizations ensure every worker understands what is expected of them, and how it supports everyone else’s role. In the hectic daily grind of delivering care to patients, that’s often not articulated very well, or at all. “They understand where the organization is going, they understand what the goals are this year, they understand what their role is in helping the organization achieve those goals,” he says.

Frequent Feedback, Documented

The once-a-year annual review is quickly becoming a thing of the past, in healthcare and in many other sectors. It is being replaced with a model of continual feedback, in which supervisors and colleagues communicate quickly and frequently to offer praise, constructive criticism or ideas about how to do a particular task better.

Millennials perform better when they’re given lots of “touches,” so they can gauge how they’re doing. Despite the stereotypes, young healthcare workers do not need to be praised all the time — they want clearly defined responsibilities and lots of communication about how best to achieve them. “If you want people to perform at their best, you’re going to continuously feed them information about how they are meeting or not meeting the expectations of their job responsibilities,” Lutz says.

He recommends documenting as much of this interaction as possible, coupled with semi-formal reviews several times a year where supervisors can meet with the employee and do a deeper dive into how their performance is trending. No one likes to be surprised by a sudden reprimand or dismissal after a trail of positive verbal feedback.

Focus on Retention, Growth

The role of good performance management should be to retain the best healthcare talent. The competition for workers isn’t going to decrease anytime soon with baby boomers rapidly shifting into retirement.

To reward good work, evaluations need to have transparency and clarity, Lutz says. Don’t just give an employee a rating and a raise; make them understand how their performance affects their career path. Tie pay increases, bonuses, training, promotions, etc., to past performance and future potential.

Performance management can be challenging in a healthcare setting, which often has a mix of credentialed and non-credentialed staff, union and non-union workers, affecting things like raises and reassignments. Lutz says that to retain the people you want, invest in the right kind of incentives that will enhance their job satisfaction and make them want to stay, grow in their capabilities and assume new responsibilities.

With best practices in performance management, healthcare organizations can position themselves to deliver the best possible care to patients while recruiting and retaining the talent they need.

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