Staff Appraisals


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I had a friend contact me the other day – she wasn’t happy – her yearly appraisal was due and she had no idea what to write.

I knew how she was feeling as I too have been in her shoes – dreading the “meeting” and honestly believing it was a one-way process.

That was until I became a manager and had to hold appraisals for staff. Believe me it’s not that easy.

The worse is when you have a member of staff sitting in front of you with nothing to say, with very little on their form and not wanting to be there, that then can almost become one-sided.

As a Manager, it was my job to make this meeting work, to show the member of staff that it was a two-way process and their opinions did matter. Their input was important. So how did I go about this?

I always made sure that staff had plenty of notice that their appraisal was due. They were given a form to complete and asked to return it to me at least a week before their appraisal. That way I would be able to investigate and feedback at the appraisal.

On the day of the appraisals I made sure my diary was clear, that my secretary took all my calls and I was not to be interrupted. To ensure that this happened I would hold the appraisals in another room.

I would ensure that the desk was clear, a glass of water was available for the member of staff, as sometimes staff (especially new staff) can get quite nervous.

I always prepared for each and every appraisal. I allowed plenty of time for each appraisal and always allowed for an overrun in the event that a member of staff needed more time. Everyone deserved the respect and to be treated as an individual.

I would always start with what they were doing well. Praising them was important. Every step I would ask if they had anything to add, instead of asking at the end of the appraisal.

If I had to discuss ways that they needed to improve I would always get measurable proof. Find a way forward – turning a negative into a positive.

I would ask some open questions – what has been good in the last year / what have not been so successful?

It was important for me to get them talking, and to ensure that I covered everything there was on the form. If there were any blanks on the form (and there were often some) I would go over the question in the appraisal and together we would fill in the blanks.

At the end of the appraisal I would always make sure that I had covered everything. I would ask if they were happy with the appraisal, if there is something that I might have missed out, and how they felt that I supported them as a manager over the past year.

The most important thing is following up after any appraisal. If you said you would do something then make sure you do it. Don’t let the member of staff down, they would have every reason to dread next year’s appraisal. If the member of staff has highlighted something then its over to you – it could be training that they have said they would like to do, or perhaps be considered for promotion, or simply changing their hours.

If you use the appraisals right you can and will get so much more from your team.

A staff appraisal should be a two-way process.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved
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Supporting The Receptionist


 

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I recently held a training session for a group of new Receptionists. They ranged from being in their current posts from 6 weeks through to 6 months.

I particularly enjoy New Receptionists Training. I love the group participation and the eagerness to learn more about the role of the Receptionist. Each person came from a different organisation but all have the same goal, wanting to do their job to the best of their ability.

And they can only achieve their best by being trained to do so. You as employer, a manager team leader or fellow Receptionist owe it to any new members to the team and help them to achieve that ultimate goal. You also owe it to you patients and customers by having well-trained staff.

I try to make they training session interesting, including ice breakers and lots of team participation. One of the exercises we did was “What would you have found useful in your role when you first started ”. This question raised a lot of answers, and we had a great discussion around each one.

Some feedback to the question included:

  • More training – especially around confidentiality
  • Knowing who does what in the organisation (staff list and their main roles)
  • Days and hours of staff working at the organisation.
  • Up to date telephone list.
  • Knowing the 999 policy
  • More training on the phone system
  • Emergency procedure for Reception
  • Disability awareness – especially wheelchair users.
  • Knowing what staff are in and out of the building
  • How to deal with a difficult caller
  • Who to report to when the Receptionist has a query (some were still confused on who to report to)
  • Need for more policies and procedures for the Reception area
  • Daily/weekly checklist for new Receptionists.

We discussed all of the above in great detail. Many of the group had no idea of their emergency procedures. Some didn’t know if their reception area had a panic button and some spoke of having a difficult caller and admitted that they found this really difficult to deal with. 75% of the group didn’t know that their “fancy” Reception desk was in fact a desk designed for people with a disability and everyone agreed that they would have found a daily/weekly checklist helpful when they first started, thus reducing the amount of time they had to keep asking other members of the team.

Many admitted that they felt uncomfortable dealing with people with a disability, the fear of getting it wrong and upsetting the person, and because of that fear they felt that they didn’t approach the person in the way that they deserved.

Some of the group said that they felt inadequate having to keep asking over and over again what to do. Some simply were left to find out everything themselves and others felt that they have been given great support. A mixture but every single one of them all said that they felt regular ongoing training was important.

Receiving feedback after the course brought some of the following comments:

  • Training is very beneficial
  • Understanding the importance of team building
  • Dealing with difficult people at the front desk and over the telephone.
  • The importance of confidentiality in the workplace.
  • Feeling confident and being able to ask if they were not sure
  • Felt more confident after the session
  • Knowing that a lot of what they are doing they are doing right.

I asked what training they would feel would benefit them further in their role and the feedback was

  • Confidentiality
  • Disability Awareness
  • Telephone Skills
  • Dealing With Difficult Situations in Reception.

Do you have regular contact with new Receptionists? Do you have any idea if they are struggling with any aspects of their role?

I always met with a new Receptionist after they had been in the job a week, then I would meet with them after a month, and again at 3 months. The meeting was a 2 way process – for them to understand what we expected from them, and to find out if we could do anything for them to support them in their role and to identify training needs.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Signposting – Have you got it right?


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I accompanied an elderly friend to the hospital yesterday. She had to go to see the neurologist.

I went with her as a friend but to also support her as she is in a lot of pain and finding walking difficult.

Parking as in most hospitals was pretty awful; we were lucky to find a space and then made our way into the hospital with plenty of time before her appointment was due. We entered the large outpatients department and found that they had completely reorganised the main area. There used to be an information desk, this now replaced by a super new coffee shop.

There was no sign to direct us to the neurology department so I stopped and asked two maintenance men who were deep in conversation propping up the door. One of them told us we had to follow the corridor to the end through the double doors and turn right, into the new part of the building. So off we went.

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We went through the double doors, and there were no signs of our destination. So I asked another member of staff, she sent us back the way we had come, and once again we ended up somewhere that certainly wasn’t neurology.

I then asked a 3rd person who actually told us truthfully that they had no idea where it was, by this point my friend was starting to struggle with her walking, I sat her down and asked a 4thperson. This member of staff asked me to follow her and she took me directly to the department which was situated right beside the two maintenance men who were still there chatting. I went back and collected my friend and we made our way back to check in.

We waited at the empty reception desk, still not confident that we were in the right department, and the time was fast coming up to her appointment,my friend started getting anxious as she does not like to be late.

The Receptionist finally arrived, apologised for keeping us waiting and asked her name. Thank goodness we were in fact in the right place – more by chance I might like to add.

I asked the Receptionist why there was a lack of signposting and she told me that there were several outpatients clinics held there on a daily/weekly basis and they would be unable to list them all, and often they change to other parts of the department.

So, Hospitals, large GP Surgeries and Health Clinics please ensure that your signposting is user-friendly and if for some reason if have not got a help desk, or you cannot put up the correct signs, please think of putting directions on the appointment letters, and perhaps appropriate training for staff in how to deal with patients/visitors when they are asking for directions. If staff are not fully confident that they know where the departments are, then tell the patient that, please don’t send them on a wild goose chase like we were yesterday.

Large buildings that have lack of signposting can often be confusing to the elderly and the disabled.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Cancer Care At Its Best


 

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I have a friend that has recently be diagnosed with cancer and she is facing many weeks of chemo. Her hair is falling out, and she has got those dreaded mouth ulcers amongst other things. But through this she is staying positive and I must say she is pretty amazing.

What keeps her so positive?

It’s the support she has from her family and friends. But that’s not all, she has shared with me the support she has received from everyone involved in her treatment and the care she has received has just been incredible, she has found every single person caring for her in the NHS just amazing.

From the Receptionists at her doctor’s surgery, to the doctors and nurses, hospital transport and volunteers at the hospital she has found every single one of them helpful and informative.

It’s not just the treatment that plays a big part in someone getting better and staying positive, it’s a lot to do with they support that they received from every single healthcare professional that is involved in their care.

Being a Medical Receptionist is more than customer service, its patient care at its best.

You could make someone’s treatment just that little bit more bearable in the way that you deal with them when they visit your surgery.

Always treat someone they way you would want to be treated.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved