Your best employees may be searching for a new job right now. You might be thinking, “No, that can’t be true. My team is happy; why would they leave? They generally receive high reviews, they show up on time, and they fulfill the job requirements. Everything is fine!” Are you sure?
The reality is, high-performing employees who don’t receive consistent feedback or know they are contributing to something bigger will seek employment elsewhere. However, most supervisors and managers spend an overwhelming amount of time dealing with under-performing employees. We address performance and attendance issues, document the corrective action plan, and attempt to coach and counsel them to improve. It’s time-consuming, admittedly exhausting, and leaves us little time to give feedback to the top performers. I found myself in this position as a stressed-out ER nurse manager of a Level III Trauma Center. I was very frustrated with the process we had in place (or lack thereof) to reward, recognize, and track ALL performance. The outdated system of a personnel file with spreadsheets and paper files just wasn’t cutting it. It was so onerous that I could barely keep up with documenting negative employee behavior. My high performers weren’t getting the feedback they deserved and morale was low.
I knew my employees deserved more from me since they worked so hard for their patients and the organization every day. I wanted to provide ALL my employees with consistent, transparent, and immediate feedback on their performance. So, after researching potential solutions, I found a simple-to-use yet very effective tool called Guardian Tracking.
Guardian Tracking encouraged me to track all performance – both good and bad – to coach, counsel, mentor, and celebrate successes. With just a few clicks, I could make an entry in an employee’s file about things like:
- Good performance or behavior issues
- Certifications and license renewals
When it came time for annual performance reviews, I simply printed the entries from the year, and the written review was practically finished. The typically onerous task of employee documentation became simple and easy and created the paper trail that I needed.
Here’s the key – every time an entry is made in the system, the employee is alerted. Talk about transparency! The employee is fully aware of the activity in their file. Additionally, the system tracks when that entry was viewed.
I started using Guardian Tracking to simplify performance documentation. What I didn’t expect was the drastic impact on the culture of the department. Here are five improvements my department experienced when I provided my team with consistent, transparent, immediate feedback:
- Trust – Creating a workplace culture that encourages transparent communication throughout every level of the organization prevented things from slipping through the cracks. It also gave people the ability to view their performance progress–and if they didn’t like what they were reading, they could change their behavior. No one was blindsided by a negative annual review. And those who performed well could see it documented in their permanent file.
- Engagement – Enabling peer-to-peer recognition in the system helped make me aware of all of the great work that I, as a manager, didn’t always get to see first-hand. I was able to keep my finger on the pulse of the department. Goals became active and at the forefront of the employees’ minds.
- Communication – A quick note to say, “I noticed your kindness and empathy towards that difficult patient; you demonstrated our organization’s core values, and I greatly appreciate it!” can have a lasting effect. And, with Guardian Tracking, I could memorialize the feedback in the employee’s permanent file. As the employee transitioned within the organization, their documentation followed, so the new supervisor had an accurate, holistic view of that employee’s past performance.
- Retention – When hard work seems unappreciated or goes unnoticed, burnout can be amplified and motivation depleted. It can send employees out looking for something new. Once we started really using Guardian Tracking, it caught on and ignited team morale. Soon after, absenteeism and poor attitudes decreased, and retention rates increased. The workplace culture turned into one that people didn’t want to leave because their work was noticed and appreciated. Pretty soon, the department had the highest employee retention rate in the hospital.
- Accountability – When it was necessary to create Performance Improvement Plans with employees, everyone involved–the employee, manager, director, and HR–were able to view the plan in Guardian Tracking. It also sent reminders when specific goals needed to be accomplished.
The software also helped hold me accountable to my employees. When a team member expressed interest in earning a certificate or furthering their education, we would discuss the available opportunities and then document it in Guardian Tracking. That would reinforce and remind us what we were all striving for—their success.
I found this to be true: when I documented my employees’ performance consistently throughout the year instead of just at the annual evaluation, they felt valued and appreciated, gave their best effort, and stayed in the department. Consistent, transparent, immediate performance feedback works!
Emily Abshire is a Registered Nurse in Indiana who is inspiring leaders to bring out the best in their staff. She spent over 12 years as an emergency room nurse and manager, where she developed a passion for developing and coaching employees. Now she represents Guardian Tracking, a software used for tracking employee performance to provide positive recognition and consistent feedback and increase employee retention.