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Top Tips for Successful Performance Discussions with Your Veterinary Team

Posted in Management @ Apr 18th 2013 - By Judy Gillespie
Youre Awesome Can We Talk Blog

As promised at the end of last week's blog post (12 Essential Questions to Improve Your Appraisal Discussions) here is a really is a quick and dirty overview of some essential tips regarding performance discussions with your veterinary team members... or as I prefer to call them... Coffee & donut chats 

2 (maybe 3) Important Aims of a Coffee & Donut Chat

Before we get into the quick tips for the actual performance discussion with your veterinary team member it’s equally important to understand that there are two important aims of a Performance Discussion....err.....Chat.  The first aim is to give the manager an opportunity to discuss the employee’s performance and to explore areas of possible improvements and growth. The second aim is equally important and it is to give the employee an opportunity to discuss their role and feelings more thoroughly.  Both of these aims together are guaranteed to improve communication – which I guess makes a third aim!

Now on to the Essential Tips:

Just as every good Scout knows – everyone needs to ‘Be Prepared

  • Choose a time for the Chat that is suitable to both the employee and manager and ensure all involved are given plenty of time to think and prepare
  • The manager needs to take some time to review the employees performance over a period of time and prepare examples of their behaviour – both good and bad
  • The employee also needs to prepare for the interview and there should be no surprises – this means the employee should be fully aware of the questions that are to be discussed

Climate... Too hot?  Too cold?  Just right!

  • The manager is responsible for the climate in which the interview takes place and therefore  needs to take the time to put the employee at ease before the discussion starts (Bring on the coffee and donuts I say!)
  • Don’t sit across a big desk from each other as it can be intimidating and not conducive to a comfortable environment
  • If possible have the discussion in a neutral environment that is private (The local cafe is NOT private!)
  • Ensure the discussion is not interrupted – turn off those phones and ensure the rest of the team know you are not to be disturbed

Now let’s talk........ (Manager – this section is for you)

  • You should start by looking at the big picture – in general terms are you satisfied with the employee’s performance? (This is really what your employee wants to know first)
  • Start by emphasising strengths on which the employee can build
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Concentrate on the employee’s performance NOT their personality
  • Always remain objective - provide specific situations of employee’s performance (both positive and negatives) and avoid suggestions about personal traits, instead suggest how behaviours can be changed
  • If the employee disagrees it’s important for him/her to have the opportunity to express an opinion and the opportunity to offer an explanation
  • This is where you need to LISTEN to what the employee is saying – listening doesn’t mean you accept their excuses for poor performance, but it is a matter of showing respect
  • Don’t engage in arguments, just focus on the steps that can be taken to improve future work performance

Ok Managers – in summary ...don’t:

  • Discuss personalities
  • Compare to others
  • Start interviews with negatives

Remember it’s the little things that count!

  • The venue – should be comfortable and a place that encourages open discussion (as already mentioned, the café is NOT appropriate)
  • The time of day – must be a time when the manager can focus 100% of his or her time on the Chat and allow enough scope for a full and unhurried discussion
  • Scheduling – lock the meeting time into the diary well in advance so that both parties have plenty of time for thinking and preparing.
  • Donuts – I suggest a range of flavours (chocolate icing with sprinkles is essential) and the coffee must be good quality

Look into the future

  • Always finish on a positive note
  • A good way to end is with a discussion on professional development plans for the future.

So there it is ... my quick and dirty essential tips for successful  Coffee & Donut Chats (or performance discussions if you insist).

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, so tell me in the comments section below what you think is essential for a successful  discussion on employee performance?

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