<i>Dear Workforce</i> Our Hospital&#8217;s Appraisal Process Is Failing Us. How Do We Measure Intangible Services

May 20, 2005
Dear Caring:

Though some service-based organizations struggle to identify objective criteria on which to base performance appraisals, hospitals are not among them. Not to be indelicate, but your environment has as many potential rating criteria as it does germs.
Aside from things like clinical outcomes and patient morbidity, hospitals are able to base performance measurement on process time (wait time in the emergency department or radiology, for example), safety (both patient and staff), and incidence of infection, patient-satisfaction ratings and productivity. Other measures: hospital accreditation scores, employee-survey scores and unit performance vs. what was budgeted.
As for the latest trends in the performance-appraisal process, take our word for it--don't worry about them. The things wrong with performance-appraisal systems have been the same for 50 years, and have nothing to do with forms, technology or design of the appraisal process.
To make the process work, the leader should develop--in collaboration with the employee--specific, measurable and meaningful goals using relevant criteria like those above. These targets should measure the impact on the company's bottom line. Next, the leader should both hold the employee accountable for achieving (or exceeding) those objectives and provide support for doing so.
You'll be ahead of most health-care and other organizations if you can get your leaders to exercise the discipline and courage to sit down with staff members on a regular and timely basis to set objectives--and then have a bone-honest, objective and helpful conversation. That means conversing with, not lecturing, employees about their job performance, developmental needs and future ambitions.
SOURCE: Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette, co-authors,Contented Cows Give Better Milk,, June 18, 2004.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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