Podcast #12

Image of a dementor, a unicorn, and a sasquatch.
Performance reviews for most veterinarians USUALLY fall in one of the following 2 categories:

1. The elusive Sasquatch that is only ever mentioned, and sometimes maybe seen as a blurry image through the trees. No matter how hard to you try to push for one, it keeps slipping away just before you can get a clear picture.
2. The dreaded Dementors (for those Harry Potter Fans!) coming to suck your soul and leave you an empty shell of a person.

KICK ASS VETS recognizes that there are some of those unicorn businesses out there that have great, informative and productive performance reviews, and that’s awesome! This blog is for those in the first two categories that need some help prepping for their review, or want to push to have a performance review in a clinic where they are not a ‘thing’.
Why Have A Performance Review:
Performance reviews are important for multiple reasons. They are not only the perfect setting to discuss a pay review, but it is the location where both employer and employee can discuss what is working, what isn’t working, and can come together as a team to improve the work environment for everyone.

A performance review should be a place where your employer can discuss and outline where you as an employee are succeeding, where you are falling short, how you can improve, and how the clinic can support you in your professional goals.

The performance review is also the place for you, as the employee, to discuss what you see is working in the clinic, where you feel the clinic can improve, what your future goals and ambitions are and how the clinic can help you achieve these goals. It is also a place for employees to state any grievances, and to try to create solutions to any problems.
Performance reviews are often a time and source of stress for employees. It is very important to try to take the emotion OUT of your review. Try as best as you can to not stress out or ‘ramp up emotionally’ before your review. Try to go into your review with an open mind and with a desire to improve. Just as you want to help the clinic improve and are giving them suggestions, your clinic’s JOB is to give you suggestions on how to improve. Try to take any suggestions as positive criticism. A review of ‘yes you are awesome, there is nothing you can do better’, is not really helpful to grow, so try to take criticism as constructive.

By the same token any criticism or recommendations you have for your clinic should be helpful, constructive, specific, and ideally with recommendations on how to improve. Your clinic should take any recommendations or criticisms rationally and not become defensive.
How To Ask For A Performance Review:
If your clinic never has performance reviews and you would like to request a performance review you simply need to ask! This also applies if you have had a change of job description, or feel that there are important topics you want to address whether it is related to your work environment, your salary, or any other issues.

Depending on your work environment, you may ask in person or may be sending an email. You will need to determine what is best for you. If you feel comfortable and have an informal work environment a simple, “Hey boss, I was hoping we could sit down and chat soon.”

If you clinic is a bit bigger, or part of a larger corporation where you have managers or layers of middle management, an email is likely more appropriate. You can email your manager stating “I would like to arrange a meeting as your earliest convenience.” You can either include what topics you would like to discuss or not, that will depend on how you feel. “I would like to have a discussion about my performance/my role with this business/the work environment/my salary/our client interactions/our clinic’s work flow processes/ etc.”

If you work for a smaller business or if you feel that your boss might not know how to run a performance review, or if you have a boss that might need a little encouragement or direction than you can can supply that in your email. “Hey boss, I would love to sit down and have a conversation. I was hoping that we could chat about the following (include any that apply, or add more of your own):
- Where I have been succeeding.
- Where I have been falling short/not reaching my potential.
- Where I feel that that clinic is falling short and what is succeeding.
- What I feel we can do to improve.
- What you feel I can do to improve.
- My goals for my career and how we can make that mutually beneficial.
- My role in this business and and where I would like it to go.
- A review of my salary package.
- Suggestions I have for processes/protocols to improve work-flow.
- etc.
Some bosses and clinic owners are veterinarians that have bought clinics, but have very little business experience. Some of your bosses will be too afraid to pull you in for a meeting when they feel that you are lacking, and won’t say anything. You, as an associate, need to help your boss in those circumstances by telling them you WANT to get pointers on where you can improve, and you WANT to discuss how you can continue to improve. If they need extra help you can print out the first page of our KICK ASS Performance Review Handout so they can prepare.
What Should Be Included In a Performance Review:
gold star christmas ornament
Although everyone likes to get a ‘Gold Star’, performance reviews should include a discussion of both strengths and weaknesses. If there is no constructive criticism than it wasn’t a successful performance review.
A performance review should be a conversation that highlights BOTH what is working, and what is not working.
A performance review should including the following FROM THE MANAGER/BOSS:
1. Description of job responsibilities and expectations.
2. Outline performance standards and benchmarks.
3. Recognition of good work and what the employee is doing well.
4. Feedback from other staff members.
5. Recognition of where employees are falling short/not reaching expectations.
6. Goal setting for how to reach unmet expectations.
7. Time-frame to revisit any benchmarks or goals.
8. What learning opportunities there are to achieve goals.
9. Explanation of how salaries are determined.
10. Performance based rewards/compensation.
A performance review should including the following FROM THE EMPLOYEE:
1. Self-Evaluation of what is going well AND going poorly.
2. Feedback on strengths and weakness of the clinic.
3. Needs/Desires from the clinic. (Either to improve work environment or for professional growth.)
4. Suggestions for improvements/changes to work-flow processes. Be SPECIFIC.
5. Time-frame to revisit any improvement/changes to see if they are working, or time-frame for them to be implemented.
6. Job Description and responsibilities, and any changes or promotions that are desired.
7. Review of compensation and employee’s expectation for a pay review.
The flow of the review will vary. You might have the clinic starting everything off and addressing all of their points, followed by the employee. Another form of flow may be that each topic is addressed by the clinic, followed immediately by the employee’s response. It might be helpful to determine the flow of the review at the beginning so that you as the employee know when to interject, or to wait until the end.

It is also helpful to take notes. Bring paper, or if you prefer this KICK ASS Performance Review Handout , to ensure all of these compenents are discussed and your points are made!
How to Prepare For A Performance Review:
As an employee you want to be prepared for your performance review. You don’t want to be blind-sided or suddenly in a position where you feel you are just being attacked. This means that you need to both rationally and emotionally prepare for your review.
Person with a notebook and pen.
It is important to both prepare for your review, on paper, as well as having paper to take notes during your review!
EMOTIONAL PREPARATION: To emotionally prepare you need to sit yourself down in front of a mirror, and tell yourself “yes, I am good at my job, but everyone can improve.” Prepare to hear some constructive feedback, and prepare to take that constructive feedback gracefully. Prepare yourself to the fact that your boss wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t give you anything to work for. It is NOT PERSONAL, so don’t take it as such!
RATIONAL PREPARATION: To rationally prepare you will want to make a list of the following:
- Where you feel you excel.
- What you have brought to the clinic (extra duties, training, rostering, protocols, handouts, positive work environment, etc.)
- Where you feel you need to improve. (It is important to recognize our own failings, and by doing so you will show confidence and a desire to improve to your boss!)
- What you want/need from the clinic (schedule, CE/CPD, training on specific skills, support in certain areas, staffing, added/decreased responsibilities/duties, etc.)
- Suggestions for the clinic. Be very specific about what areas you feel need improving, and have specific suggestions on how they can be addressed.
- What you feel your salary/wage should be, and why.
Bring a piece of paper with all of the answers to the above points written down, so you ensure that all are addressed. Also, have a notebook/paper to take notes during your review of any suggestions, questions, etc. Use this KICK ASS Performance Review Preparation Handout to help you compile information.

While the review is occurring, let your employer speak and finish all of their statements and points. If you have questions or concerns about the points, write them down and address them afterwards. Do not react emotionally to any statements. If something is said that is upsetting/concerning, wait a moment and compose yourself, and then respond rationally. If you are very upset you can ask to have a quick bathroom break, and go compose yourself.
ASK FOR SPECIFICS: If you are given any feedback that you don’t fully understand or a criticism that you don’t agree with, ask for examples and specific situations or scenarios so that you can both understand exactly what the problem is, as well as understand how to improve. By asking for specifics you also will ensure that any claim of criticism or negative feedback is substantiated.

BE OPEN TO CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: It is very very important to understand that no-one is perfect. Take this opportunity as a change to improve and grow, and expand your knowledge or skills. Try to take all criticism constructively and use it as a tool to encourage personal growth, instead of taking it as a personal attack. If a clinic isn’t giving you any feedback for improvement they aren’t doing you any favours, and are just letting you stagnate, so embrace constructive criticism!

MODERATE YOUR EMOTIONS: Being in the veterinary industry you are likely a Type A person that is hyper-critical of yourself. When you are given feedback that is anything besides ‘you are amazing’, you will emotionally feel hurt, sad, angry, and/or defensive. Try to recognize that these emotions are likely inappropriate, and are definitely unhelpful. Try to decrease how much of these feelings you are experiencing and recognize that you need to moderate how any of these emotions are displayed/portrayed. If you are getting overly upset, angry or defensive, you are only doing yourself a disservice. You need to display to your employer that you are part of the team, and OK to improve to be part of the team. Also, by keeping a calm and collected attitude, you will have more power in your negotiations, as you can have a more rational discussion.

PERFORMANCE REVIEWS ARE BI-DIRECTIONAL: Any review is a meeting in which both employer and employee can contribute to help reach a common goal, which is the improvement of the business and patient care. By actively being involved with your review, and having feedback that is constructive for the clinic, you are going to show you are part of the team and this will display VALUE. It will also give you power in terms of your mental well-being, and your salary negotiation!
Overall performance reviews SHOULD be a positive, constructive experience for both parties involved. By preparing for a review, and by understanding and being open to constructive criticism you can do your part in making it positive. Also, you can improve a review by ensuring the above components are discussed, so that your work environment and relationships can progress as much as possible.

There will be some employers that are abusive and overly negative in reviews to try to decrease one’s will to ask for a raise, and in those circumstances you will need to stand up for yourself, ask for specific examples, and ensure all claims are substantiated. Don’t get upset or angry, but ensure that all comments/criticism are understood and are discussed rationally to get to a final mutually agreed upon consensus.

Performing well and presenting your accomplishments, and showing room for growth, will increase your VALUE to your employer. It also gives more credence to your salary requests. To determine how much to ask for see Evaluating Your Worth blogs, along with Negotiation Tactics blog. So get out there and have a KICK ASS Performance Review!

Do you have any performance review disasters or successes that you want to share? Contact Us at any time to share.

Do you have a performance review coming up and feel that you need some help preparing? KICK ASS Consulting can help you determine your strengths, weaknesses, how to best present yourself in your review, and help you get the best review possible.
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published September 3rd, 2019

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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