Employee-driven performance metrics: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

CE Articles , Current Issue

Editor’s Intro: Use performance metrics to measure your employees’ work and to gather, analyze, and manage employee data.

Ali Oromchian, JD, LLM, discusses how to effectively achieve targeted business objectives

Educational aims and objectives

The aim of this article is to explore employee-driven performance metrics, including gathering data, implications of data, and managing data.

Expected outcomes

Orthodontic Practice US subscribers can answer the CE questions by taking this quiz to earn 2 hours of CE from reading this article. Correctly answering the questions will demonstrate the reader can:

  • Recognize the importance of objective metrics.
  • Identify the four pillars of employee-driven performance metrics.
  • Realize the implications of employee-driven performance metrics.
  • Identify deficiencies and opportunities for improvements based on trends in performance metrics.
  • Identify alternative approaches to individual development.

Metrics are numbers and statistics that provide valuable information about how effectively a business is achieving targeted business objectives. You are probably most familiar with growth-based metrics such as the number of referrals received, case acceptance rate, and your practice’s gross revenue — all of which are objective data points. Objective data points are imperative to ensure you are gauging performance factually and without bias. These sets of quantifiable measures are created to objectively compare performance as it relates to operational goals.

One of the most mismanaged metrics for a business is HR metrics. HR metrics evaluate a broad range of HR topics from onboarding to termination. In this article, we will be focusing on HR metrics as they relate to performance management and the employees within the organization.1 Performance management can be broken down into three main points: gathering data, implications of data, and managing this data.

Four pillars of employee-driven performance metrics

1. Documents and compliance

Workflows and task management systems measure the level of completion of required documents. These metrics ensure compliance is met in a timely manner. All of these required documents safeguard your practice from a broad range of threats such as claims of harassment or discrimination, and notices of protected leaves of absences.

2. Absenteeism, tardiness, and excessive overtime

This aspect of performance is important because it provides objective data of absenteeism, tardiness, overtime, and missed time clock punches. It is important to ensure you are handling these aspects (such as excessive absenteeism and time clock edits) impartially. Additionally, this information can also pinpoint deficiencies within the practice’s efficiency as a whole.

3. Violations

Documenting violations of your policies or procedures and the subsequent disciplinary actions will ensure individual metrics consistently reflect an employee’s performance. They establish tangible documentation factored into overall performance evaluations. It is important that violations are detailed to ensure you spot trends in poor performance. Finding these trends is one of the core functions of HR metrics.

4. Performance reviews

Performance reviews are designed to evaluate the performance of each employee throughout a predetermined time frame. They are most commonly conducted toward the end of an employee’s introductory period and then on an annual basis thereafter. Performance reviews should take into consideration the HR metrics acquired throughout the predetermined time frame such as frequency of tardiness or violations of your policies. This annual realignment of expectations and performance ensures that areas of improvement are brought to light, while reinforcing positive performance.

Implications of employee-driven performance metrics

1. Documents and compliance

Typically, incomplete and unsecure documents indicate much larger issues. First, this could mean that compliance is not a top priority in your office, and there are likely other areas of high risk. Second, this means you could be currently operating in violation of many labor requirements. You could be operating without an at-will agreement or without verifying if your team members are authorized to work in the United States. In escalated situations, these incomplete or missing documents may encourage a plaintiff’s attorney to pursue a legal claim. This is because these issues imply additional missteps by the employer.

2. Absenteeism, tardiness, and excessive overtime

You need to have policies that outline processes regarding absenteeism, tardiness, and unapproved overtime and enforce violations for excessive absenteeism and poor attendance. If not, it indicates that proper expectations have not been set in advance for your team. This means enforceability is probably ambiguous and lacks structure.

This could reflect a lack of structure regarding processes: Your team members should be familiar with the processes around requesting a day off, a late arrival, or unscheduled overtime. This means prior (documented) approval must occur before a change to the schedule can be made. If the absence, tardy, or overtime is unapproved or worked without following the designated structure, then they can be subject to a written violation.

3. Violations

Although not always the case, violations can be a reflection of bigger issues within the practice. In this step, you are looking for trends in violations. The better you can spot deficiencies, the better you can implement processes to improve.

Unclear expectations and policies: If you notice recurring confusion or difficulty from your team adhering to specific expectations, it might be time to reevaluate your policies. Consistent violations from multiple team members can mean an ambiguous or flawed policy. It’s important to remember that policies should be updated and amended according to business and legislative needs. It’s important to gauge the feedback you are receiving during violation conversations and performance reviews.

Poor training: If you notice recurring issues with your staff executing tasks or handling tough situations, it might be time to consider providing additional training supported by a written development plan. Keep in mind, all violations should be issued with the intention of improvement. Only after recurring issues or non-improvement, should termination be considered.

4. Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are a powerful resource to pinpoint areas of individual performance and insight on the productivity of the practice as a whole.2 For example, if you notice recurring issues with many team members, such as overtime, you can infer that the issue could be overscheduling patients. However, if you notice issues with only a few staff members, it could reflect shortcomings of individual task management that requires further support and training.

Managing the employee-driven performance metrics

1. Documents and compliance

These metrics indicate a need for new stringent processes to ensure timely completion of documents. For example, this could mean deadlines and audits to create urgency. Another alternative could be allotting time (in the practice) to complete all documents.

2. Absenteeism, tardiness, and excessive overtime

Absenteeism and tardiness: Create policies that outline processes for requesting time off. The clearer the processes, the easier to issue objective violations and evaluate how prevalent absenteeism and tardiness affects your practice. This will ensure that high rates of tardiness and absenteeism are reflections of individual performance.

Trends in excessive overtime: Create overtime processes that require your staff to define reasons for overtime. This will ensure you can pinpoint specific deficiencies. This could include poor operational scheduling, poor task management, necessity of additional training for team members, and/or poor timekeeping by your team.

3. Violations

Evaluating HR metrics as they relate to violations issued is an effective resource in assessing whether your policies, training, and processes need further improvement. They will also pinpoint individual team members who are performing below average. This could also mean evaluating whether someone is a good fit for the prac-tice, or whether further individual development is necessary. Below are two forms of effective individual development.

Development plans: Development plans are a good way to begin an improvement process for individual performance issues. They not only effectively document incidents of unfavorable issues, but also outline what needs to be improved, how it is to be improved, and the date this should be improved.3 Based on your HR metrics data, you can assess whether this would be the best process to improve individual performance. Typically, at this point, termination would be the next option for unfavorable results.

Coaching/one-on-ones: Coaching is a helpful resource to improve performance on a one-on-one basis. Based on the finding in your HR metrics, you may want to implement monthly one-on-ones to assess consistent improvement and feedback to your newly implemented processes.

4. Performance Reviews

Using data gathered from past performance reviews and assessing the changes in current or future reviews will ensure you are accurately measuring growth, stagnation, or diminished work performance. Most importantly, you must use this data to create processes to improve and overcome shortcomings pinpointed in these annual reviews. Additionally, these reviews create an open door to discuss issues — you will be surprised how much insight you will gain from a simple conversation with your team members. Taking this insight and implementing improvements will ensure you are putting your best foot forward at advancing your practice. Below are reinforcement-based approaches to individual development.

Shoutouts and kudos4: Although kudos are great at highlighting an employee’s achievements/hard work, they also present tangible examples of how to ideally handle similar situations. For example, if you issued kudos for an employee handling a difficult patient situation, you will want to highlight the situation, the problem/obstacle, and what this employee did to effectively handle this situation. This not only will reinforce great service, but also will educate other employees on how to handle similar situations.

Takeaway

HR metrics must always be objective in nature to ensure measurement is uniform among all of your staff. Additionally, you must recognize that HR Metrics alone offer limited value.5 In other words, HR metrics are only truly useful when you are analyzing the data you gather to pinpoint deficiencies and spearhead improvement. Using past data to compare and assess the effects of current or future processes will ensure you are accurately gauging the effects of your improvement efforts. Most importantly, your focus should always be improvement!

What do you think about performance metrics?

Performance metrics is the cornerstone for managing a practice, so there’s plenty to discuss. Tell us what you think about performance metrics on our Facebook page.