Helping team members be their best: Appraisals and goal setting (Proceedings)

Helping team members be their best: Appraisals and goal setting (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2009

The first step with appraisals, as with training, is to make your expectations clear. Employees should know what they are being judged on, how often and by whom. Our performance evaluation forms are now included in our office manual. We also spell out expectations and consequences. What, specifically and exactly, do you want people to do? Here's what I advise my team members to do to minimize problems in their professional life:

1) Leave your personal life at the door. In other words, your problems, successes or failures with relationships, money, health or your personal pets don't belong in the office.

2) Be polite even if you are really pissed off. You catch more bees with honey, as they say.

3) Apologize when something goes wrong, even if you didn't do it. Then try to make it right. Say, "Gee, Dr. smith, I can see how this upsets you. What can I do now to help make it right?" instead of "I didn't do it, Sharon did it."

4) Help others and do your own tasks without complaint – even if you don't enjoy that particular task. It takes self-control and willpower to not look or sound bored, frustrated or negative, doesn't it?

5) Learn to understand different personality styles and to work with individuals who have different points of view.

6) Last, do those things that your boss wants you to do, even if you don't really want to - and even if you don't really like him or her. Maintaining good relationships and doing things the way your boss wants you to or the business needs will eventually get you the raises, promotions and good references that allow you to succeed in your career.

We are all a product of our heredity and our environment. We have our own styles, habits and thought processes. But we are all human and we share many of the same foibles and frustrations. The more you are in control of your own responses and feelings, and the more understanding you have of your own triggers and weaknesses, the more effective you will be as a professional person. However, we also need to have very clear codes of conduct in our policy manuals in order to avoid confusion and to give employees explicit guidelines. Here are some examples:

"The professional atmosphere of the hospital is to be maintained by employees while present in the hospital. Employees are expected to be neat and clean and to maintain their jacket or scrubs, as well as clothes beneath their uniforms in a clean and pressed state at all times. You need to ensure you have clean lab coats on hand to change in case it becomes soiled. If you handle animals as part of your job you may want to keep a clean pair of pants on hand for sudden messes. You should also have a spare, clean smock available at all times. Uniforms may be washed here at the clinic. Smocks hung up immediately after drying usually don=t need ironing but if yours tend to be wrinkled please press them at home or use the steamer located in the drawer next to the washer/dryer in the pack/prep/scrub room."

Still, employees show up in wrinkled clothes. When they do you need to speak up, tell them their dress is not appropriate and either get them to fix the problem or send them home. If you don't, everyone in the hospital will think it's OK to show up in wrinkled uniforms.

"Improper appearance distracts from our ability to communicate with clients about the care of their pets, and makes us look unprofessional. Unacceptable attire or appearance includes visible tattoos, pierced body parts other than ears, hair color that is not a normal color for natural hair, sweat pants, baggy jeans, shirts or sweatshirts with obscene words or slogans, shirt untucked, exposed abdomen, excessively long fingernails and black, purple or other lipstick that does not complement normal skin tones. Women may wear multiple earrings with restraint and discretion. No earrings are allowed for male staff members. No wrinkled or soiled clothing."

This, too, gets people sent home to change. I don't care if my employees pierce their tongues or eyebrows as long as the clients can tell they did it. Tattoos get covered up, extra rings get removed or you go home for the day.