In her Founder Letter this month, Dr. Heidi Jannenga talked about reviewing work performance and providing feedback to the staff in your rehab therapy clinic, stressing the importance of creating consistent and fair performance reviews. While rounds of applause and pats on the back are great, they can’t compete with detailed and data-based evaluations. But if you’ve never provided your staff with formal performance reviews, you may not know your options for doing so. To give you a head start, here are five common performance review methods:

Defensible Documentation Toolkit - Regular BannerDefensible Documentation Toolkit - Small Banner

1. Self-Evaluation

A self-evaluation requires an employee to judge his or her own performance against predetermined criteria. Usually, the self-evaluation is taken into consideration during an official performance review to allow for a more thorough discussion and to ensure employees understand how they will be judged. The self-evaluation may be too subjective to truly reflect work performance, as employees may rate themselves too high—or too low—but the discrepancies between employee and employer evaluations can be insightful.   

2. Behavioral Checklist

The behavioral checklist is exactly what it sounds like: a checklist of behaviors an employee must exhibit to be considered a valuable member of the team—and thus, to receive a favorable review. As explained in this article, the behaviors required of an employee differ based on job type. To complete the evaluation, the employer responds to a list of carefully worded yes-or-no questions, each of which may be weighted with a predetermined value.

3. 360-Degree Feedback

As the name suggests, a 360-degree feedback review provides a comprehensive look at an employee’s performance by pulling feedback from outside sources. The employee and his or her manager will still complete an assessment of the employee’s work performance and technical skill set, but this review method also includes feedback from peers, direct reports, and/or non-direct supervisors with whom the employee works regularly. Additionally, 360-degree feedback reviews can include an evaluation of the employee’s character and leadership skills.

4. Management by Objectives

As this article indicates, the management by objectives (MBO) performance appraisal method is a more modern approach to performance reviews, because it ropes the employee into the goal-setting process. With this method, the manager and his or her employee will “agree upon specific, obtainable objectives with a set deadline.” Unlike subjective evaluations, the MBO method makes it easy to define success and failure.

5. Ratings Scale

A ratings scale—or grading system—is probably the most commonly used performance review method. This method is based on a set of employer-developed criteria—which can include behaviors, traits, competencies, or completed projects—against which employees are judged. The employer assigns each criterion a numerical value, usually on a ten- or five-point scale. A word of caution to employers using this method: be sure your employees fully understand where success and failure fall on the scale. Some employees will consider a three-out-of-five to be merely average, but you may consider it to be above satisfactory. So, be sure to properly set expectations, especially if you require a self-evaluation.

While these methods each have their advantages, they might not all fit with your leadership style or your clinic’s culture. Consider the job roles—and the people who fill them—you’ll need to evaluate before you choose your review method. Regardless of the method you select, make sure your evaluation is rooted in metrics—not personal opinions. (If you use WebPT, our built-in tools can help you dig into job performance.) And remember, constructive criticism and clear goals for improvement are the keys to any good performance review.


How does your clinic conduct performance reviews? What are the pros and cons of your method? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

  • Employee Engagement: Your Most Important Business Initiative Image

    articleJul 5, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Employee Engagement: Your Most Important Business Initiative

    What single business initiative can make your employees want to work harder for you, while inspiring them to be happier than ever with their jobs? Hint: The answer is not more money . The answer is increasing employee engagement . This is possibly the single most important part of an owner or manager’s duties. To tackle this job, we must start with creating unparalleled company culture . Wikipedia defines company culture as “the character of the organization; …

  • Train to Retain: Why Employee Training is the Key to High Retention Rates Image

    articleJan 26, 2016 | 2 min. read

    Train to Retain: Why Employee Training is the Key to High Retention Rates

    New employee training is the foundation for high retention. Here’s how to start newbies off on the right foot. You put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into finding and hiring great employees. So, it makes sense to do your darndest to keep them at your practice for as long as possible. What you might not realize is that the path to high staff retention actually begins at the end of the hiring process (that is, …

  • Up and Leave: What to Do When a Therapist Quits Image

    articleJun 26, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Up and Leave: What to Do When a Therapist Quits

    Breakups are never easy. Even if it’s an amicable split, it’s hard not to look back on your time together and wonder what could’ve been. But here’s the good news: if you approach a breakup from a place of maturity and wisdom, you can learn some valuable lessons and apply them to your next relationship. Of course, the relationship I’m referring to in this post is the one between a rehab therapy practice manager and his or …

  • Can You Hear Me Now? The Physical Therapist's Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work Image

    webinarJan 5, 2016

    Can You Hear Me Now? The Physical Therapist's Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work

    Feedback: everyone wants it. Professional feedback, in particular, helps us become better employees, managers, peers, and providers. It’s mission-critical when it comes to improving patient care and exceeding business objectives. Why, then, are we rarely getting the feedback we need or giving others the feedback they deserve? And when we do deliver feedback, why doesn’t it always have the desired effect? On January 26, Dr. Heidi Jannenga will team up with special guest and renowned leadership coach …

  • How to Hire for Fit Image

    articleJan 21, 2016 | 2 min. read

    How to Hire for Fit

    How can you find those elusive job candidates who truly are the right fit for your practice? When it comes to building a successful PT practice, hiring good employees isn’t just important; it’s essential. But finding the right candidate for each job often is one of the biggest challenges practice owners face. Why is it so difficult to find someone who’s the right fit? Many times, it’s because finding the perfect person for the job means looking …

  • The Unconventional Metrics You Should be Using in Rehab Therapy Performance Reviews Image

    articleJan 9, 2019 | 12 min. read

    The Unconventional Metrics You Should be Using in Rehab Therapy Performance Reviews

    Physical therapy is in a strange place right now. Burnout is rampant , the cost of education is higher than ever, and pay is stagnating at best. Talented therapists have resorted to jumping from job to job in search of an elusive salary bump. Clearly, something is broken in our current system. When experienced PTs are making less than brand-new grads because they can never seem to land a pay raise, there’s something very wrong with the …

  • The Most Important Benefit for Your Employees Image

    articleJan 27, 2016 | 2 min. read

    The Most Important Benefit for Your Employees

    Ensure your employees stick with you by giving them what they desire most. Regardless of industry, top-notch employees are in high demand. When you find a quality staff member—whether that employee is a tech or therapist—you want to hang on to him or her. But retaining high-quality team members is tricky, and if you fail to do so, your business certainly will suffer. Nowadays, there’s a ton of talk about developing the most attractive benefit packages—that is, …

  • How to Attract Top Talent to Your Practice Image

    articleJan 22, 2016 | 2 min. read

    How to Attract Top Talent to Your Practice

    Every practice owner wants to hire the crème de la crème. Here’s how to get quality job candidates knocking on your door. Wouldn’t it be great to get the highest-quality job candidates lining up to work at your practice? Well, with a few tweaks to your strategy, that dream might not be that far from reality. It all has to do with curb appeal—that is, how you present your practice to potential candidates. Most companies offer competitive …

  • 6 Steps to Giving Meaningful Feedback in the Workplace Image

    articleSep 26, 2016 | 7 min. read

    6 Steps to Giving Meaningful Feedback in the Workplace

    Feedback is a funny thing. Everyone loves to receive it, but no one likes to give it. And that spells trouble. Because without feedback, there is no improvement; and without improvement, relationships fail—especially in business. After all, employees leave managers, not companies . That’s right; at the end of the day, employees disengage and eventually quit because of poor relationships with their coworkers and leaders. And the root cause of that failed partnership often is feedback—or lack …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.