Best Practices

Quick Tips to Improve Your One-On-One Conversations with Staff for better job clarity and staff recognition

a. Follow through on staff check-ins; reschedule if necessary, but avoid canceling them.

b. Deliver feedback about specific events to staff as soon as possible after the event.

c. Create a system (such as a dedicated folder in email or a file folder) to keep track of staff accomplishments and feedback from others. Later, you can use the information when completing staff performance reviews.

1. Discussion Guide for Mid-Year Check-In

This tool helps you lead a focused conversation with your direct reports halfway through the year. Use this conversation to let staff know how they are contributing (or could be better contributing) to the unit’s or department’s goals. Sharing this feedback halfway through the year gives staff a chance to course-correct if needed and helps ensure the annual performance review won’t be a surprise.

Manager Time Commitment

Preparation time: 10 minutes per discussion
Delivery time: 30 minutes per discussion

Staff Time Commitment

30 minutes per discussion

How to Use This Tool

1. Collect the most recent data on your unit or department’s goals.
Review the data. Ensure you understand what is being measured, how it is being measured, and how the data is trending.
If you don’t have easy access to the data you need, take a few moments to reflect on your unit or department’s performance to date. What is going well? Where are areas of opportunity?

2. Identify which staff you will conduct mid-year check-ins with.
Ideally, you should check in with each of your direct reports.

If you can’t check-in with everyone, we recommend prioritizing your team’s top performers and those with performance issues.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to host every check-in yourself. A supervisor on your team can help by hosting check-ins with staff who are solid contributors and who don’t have significant performance concerns. (We recommend you personally conduct check-ins with your strongest and weakest performers).

3. Schedule a 30-minute check-in with each staff member you plan to check in with.
Let the staff member know you will use this time to discuss how the unit/department is performing on its goals, and how the staff member is individually contributing to the unit’s/department’s performance.

4. Take a few moments to reflect on the performance of each staff member you plan to check in with.
Review the questions in the Mid-Year Check-In Template (in additional resources) to spur your thinking and jot down notes as needed.

5. Meet with each staff member
If the staff member is hesitant or unwilling to share feedback during the check-in, let them know they can share feedback with you after the meeting.
It’s a good idea to take notes during this conversation—it can save you time later. Save your notes in a safe place and reference them when you complete annual performance reviews.

6. Wrap up the conversation by reviewing any next steps.
Thank the staff member for their time.
Let them know about any next steps you plan to take (such as tracking down an answer to a question). At a minimum, let the staff member know the next time you plan to formally check-in with them (for example, for their annual performance review).

To take this concept one step further….
Consider saving a few minutes at the end of the mid-year check-in to exchange “start-stop-continue” feedback with your staff member. 

Additional resources

2. Start-Stop-Continue Conversation Guide

This guide equips you to quickly exchange meaningful feedback with your staff.

Manager Time Commitment

10-30 minutes per discussion

Staff Time Commitment

10-30 minutes per discussion

How to Use This Tool

1. Set aside 10 to 30 minutes to exchange feedback with a staff member.
You can use the last few minutes of a regular check-in with the staff member to have this conversation.

2. Send an email to your staff member letting them know you'd like to share feedback with them and hear their feedback in return.
Invite staff to come to the meeting prepared with ideas about the following:
a.One thing the staff member would like you to start doing
b. One thing they would like you to stop doing
c. One thing they would like you to continue doing

3. Identify what you would like your staff member to start, stop, and continue.

4. Meet with the staff member, and take turns sharing feedback.
You have two options for structuring the conversation:
• You can take turns answering each question. (For instance, each of you can share what you would like the other to start doing, then you both share what you would like the other to stop, and so on).
• One person answers all three questions in a row, and then the other person answers all three questions in a row.

5. Conclude the discussion.
Key points to include:

a. Thank staff for their honest feedback.
b. If you plan on changing your behavior based on the staff's feedback, feel free to share this in the moment. Alternatively, let staff know you need time to reflect on the feedback.

3. Predefined Team Goals

This tool helps you set a predefined goal that staff can work toward to achieve recognition. This has two benefits: first, staff will know exactly what they need to do to earn recognition. Second, defining the goal in advance helps ensure you won’t accidentally overlook team accomplishments that should be celebrated.

Manager Time Commitment

To implement: 30 minutes
To maintain: 10 minutes weekly

Staff Time Commitment

No commitment required

How to Use This Tool

1. Choose a metric that your team has an opportunity to improve.
As you consider which metric to focus on, ask yourself the following three questions:
 Can my whole team impact this metric?
 Is this metric measured at least monthly? (Ideally metric would be measured more frequently)
 Does my team have room to improve on this metric?
If you answer “Yes” to the questions above, the metric is a good one to use for a predefined team goal. For example:

Sample metrics for Clinical Teams: 

• Patient satisfaction (overall HCAHPS scores, or specific questions on the survey)
• Specific hospital-acquired infection rate
• Median patient wait time

Sample metrics for Non-clinical Teams:

• Room turnaround time
• Percentage of co-pays collected
• First-call resolution rate

2. Set a reasonable target for your team’s performance.
You might be familiar with the “SMART” acronym. Good goals are SMART—they are: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Keep these principles in mind as you identify a target for your team.
The target shouldn’t be immediately within reach, but it should be reasonably achievable in the near term—within the next three months or so.

3. Decide how you will recognize your team’s achievement of the target. You can either decide
this yourself, or involve your staff in the decision.

First, decide whether you want to select the reward yourself, or let your staff choose their own reward. Involving staff in the reward selection process takes more time, but it also is likely to make staff more excited to meet the target.
If you decide to let your staff decide, bring a list of options to a staff meeting for your staff to vote. Use the list below as your starting point.

Here are a few sample rewards. Remove any that don’t fit within your budget, and add any additional ideas you have:
 Choice of snack at upcoming staff meeting
 Breakfast or lunch catered
 Option to wear jeans on Friday
 Option to leave early on a specific day
 Manager will do something goofy (e.g., wear a costume or silly hat all day)
 Banner for the unit/department to display on a wall

Finally, consider adding a “bonus reward” if staff exceed the target.

You can include a bonus reward if one of two things happens:

1. Team achieves the target faster than expected.
For example, if it takes your team two months to reach the target, they get a Jeans Friday. If it takes them only one month, they get a Jeans Friday and a pizza party.
2. Team improves more than expected.
For example, if the target metric goes up by 2% in one month, your team gets a Jeans Friday at the end of the month. If the target metric goes up by 4% in one month, your team gets a Jeans Friday and a pizza party.

4. Introduce predefined goal at your next staff meeting.
Talking points:
a. Describe the metric you chose and why you chose it.
b. Tell staff what the target is, and share how long you think it will take your team to reach the target. If you want staff to think 'bigger picture', feel free to share your long-term aspiration for the target (for example, what do you hope your unit's performance will be one year from now?).
c. If you've already decided on the reward, share this with staff. Pay close attention to see if staff seem excited about the reward, or if you should select a different reward in the future.
d. If you didn't select the reward in advance, share your short list of options and ask staff to vote on which one they'd like most.

5. Visually display the team’s progress.
Track your team’s progress toward the goal to keep performance visible and top of mind. Depending on the metric, it may be more appropriate to display progress in the break room (or other area not accessible to patients), rather than publicly on the unit or department.
Regularly update staff on progress toward the goal during team meetings.

6. When your team meets the target, reward them as soon as possible.
To reward your team in a timely manner, you may need to begin to make arrangements for the reward before the team actually hits the target).
If your team meets a target for three consecutive time periods (e.g., three months in a row), consider replacing the metric with a new goal the team can work toward.

7. If team does not meet the target, let them know how close they came, and tell them they can try again next time. Consider discussing with your team what prevented them from meeting the target, and what the team can do to meet the target in the future.

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