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The last thing your organization needs is a performance management process that takes a lot of time but yields questionable value. And yet this describes exactly the process that many organizations go through year after year.

Performance management can be a powerful tool to help team members understand exactly what they need to do to help the organization succeed—but only when done right.

You shouldn't get rid of performance evaluations, but you have to make them better. The good news: We have the tools you need to do just that. Download our overview to learn more, or explore all of the tools below.

Download the overview

It's critical that your performance management process includes strategically aligned goals, clear qualitative criteria, accurate ratings, and principled rewards.

Below, you'll find questions you should ask to determine where you need to improve your performance evaluation process—and the resources we have to help.

Strategically aligned goals

  • Is our organization's strategic plan translated into specific metrics?
  • Does every evaluation include outcomes-based goals?
  • Do we prevent leaders and staff from "writing in" goals?
  • Do goals have appropriately challenging targets?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, this is an area of opportunity for your organization. Here are the tools you can use to improve:

Performance Goal Library

Use this database with thousands of health care-specific goals to build a custom menu of goals matching your organization’s top priorities; ask staff to pick goals from the list (instead of asking them to come up with their own individual goals).

Target Setting Calculator

It’s tough to set appropriate targets for goals when you don't have external benchmarks to compare your performance to. This tool suggests threshold, target, and stretch levels based on historic data.

Clear, concise qualitative criteria

  • Have we streamlined the job responsibilities section so there are no more than seven job duties included in the evaluation?
  • Do frontline staff evaluations include a limited set of clearly defined behaviors?
  • Do leader evaluations include specific leadership competencies (ideally defined by management level)?
  • Do we have a formal process for giving physicians feedback on behavior?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, this is an area of opportunity for your organization. Here are the tools you can use to improve:

Behaviors Audit and Sample Behaviors

This audit will help you assess if the behaviors in frontline evaluations are "good enough"—sufficiently specific and observable. If you pass the audit, leave the behaviors as they are. If you don't pass the audit, adapt our sample behaviors.

Leadership Competency Audit and Sample Leadership Competencies

This audit will help you assess if the leadership competencies in leader evaluations are "good enough"—a detailed but concise list. If you pass the audit, don't waste time perfecting the competencies. If you don't pass the audit, adapt our sample leadership competencies.

Meaningful Alternatives to Physician Performance Evaluations

If your organization is struggling to implement formal performance reviews for physicians, discuss these two alternatives with medical leaders: adding behaviors to physician incentive plans or soliciting and sharing staff feedback with physicians.

Accurate ratings

  • Do performance evaluations result in a meaningful distribution of ratings?
  • Do managers discuss performance ratings with peers to ensure everyone is applying the rating scale consistently?
  • Are managers comfortable delivering difficult feedback?
  • Do frontline staff have mid-year check-ins?
  • Do leaders have quarterly check-ins focused on goals?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, this is an area of opportunity for your organization. Here are the tools you can use to improve:

Facilitator's Guide for Rating Scale Practice Session

When leaders rate staff inaccurately, it's often because they don't know how their grading style compares to peers. Use these case studies and discussion questions to teach leaders how to consistently apply your organization's rating scale.

Difficult Feedback Role Play Scenarios

Leaders may inflate performance ratings because they don't want to have difficult conversations with staff. Help leaders become more comfortable by giving them practice delivering tough feedback.

Scripting for Difficult Feedback Conversations

This worksheet helps leaders plan difficult feedback conversations—and anticipate staff reactions.

Rating "Gut Check" for Managers

This exercise helps managers double-check their downward performance ratings to make sure they accurately reflect employee performance.

Facilitator's Guide for Calibration Sessions

Calibration sessions can ensure leaders are rating staff consistently. This guide gives you everything you need to keep the conversations on track, on time, and focused on fair assessments of employee performance.

Mid-Year Check-in Template

This customizable template gives managers a brief, structured format for mid‑year conversations with direct reports.

Quarterly Goal-Focused Check-in Template for Leaders

This customizable template helps leaders and their supervisors review progress toward goals and course-correct if needed.

Principled rewards

  • Do leaders have fewer than five goals in their incentive plan?
  • Do frontline managers participate in the leader incentive plan?
  • Do staff receive different annual increases based on their performance?
  • Do staff know what it takes to earn recognition?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, this is an area of opportunity for your organization. Here are the tools you can use to improve:

Sustainable Leader Incentive Plan

Learn how to incentivize every leader on the organization's goals without going broke by using a financial threshold to make the plan self-funding and offering smaller payouts for less senior leaders.

Options for Implementing Merit Pay

Get options for reallocating pay increases to reward high performers without increasing the overall merit budget.

Tips for Designing Impactful Non‑financial Incentives

Use these tips to define clear criteria for non-financial rewards, so recognition doesn't inadvertently appear random.

Next, Check Out

Must-Do Steps for Trustworthy Performance Evaluation