How to Successfully Encourage Staff Development by Holding Productive Reviews

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How can you lead your staff to greater strengths?

December was always a particularly busy time in the industry as we looked ahead to the new year full of fresh goals and targets, and in parallel arranging performance and development reviews based on the current year. To avoid performance reviews being viewed as potentially an inconvenient disruption to the day or with cynicism as simply a tick box exercise, how can we make this protected time a valuable and personally rewarding investment for our staff, teams, and ultimately our patients?

Firstly, before you support your staff in creating their own personal development plans, when was the last time you revisited your own? Often, we are so focused on supporting our staff capabilities that we deprioritise our own development plans. Regardless of your own role, having and demonstrating a growth mindset is contagious. People with a growth mindset share a belief that skills, learning, and creativity can all develop with time and experience regardless of the point at which people start. By inspiring staff with our own career development stories and investing time and energy in supporting their own personal development journeys, everyone can reap the benefits.

Recommendations for maximising the value of a review:

  • Respect the time scheduled with your team member. Try not to alter a pre-arranged day and time due to non-urgent emerging practice issues.
  • Be present in the review by not answering telephone calls or responding to other staff queries.
  • Consider your own mindset. Try to have even just a short mindful break before you start the review by taking a breath of fresh air or a quiet cup of coffee or combining the two! Try to avoid rushing from one meeting, conversation, or task to the review to support you in being fully present.
  • Actively listen by seeking to understand rather than to respond. Use open questions to solicit a richer understanding of how the individual considers their performance and their aspirations for ongoing development.
  • Focus on strengths and encourage the individual to recognise their positive impact when they work with their strengths.
  • Seek to understand what elements of their job make an individual feel engaged and energised. Once you have this information you can value them for their contribution based on their strengths. Highlighting strengths powers happiness and satisfaction. The Harvard Business Review recently published an analysis of various studies that showed amongst other outcomes an average of 31% greater productivity when employees are happy or satisfied.
  • Introduce regular reviews throughout the year so that personal development is not just considered as an annual discussion but an ongoing and important goal.
  • Encourage ownership of development plans. Set goals which are clear, achievable, realistic, and desirable (CARD). With regular reviews, goals can be changed to ensure continued value and relevance for the individual and their role in the practice.
  • Chunk down development activities and tasks into mini milestones to enable a sense of achievement and satisfaction and a focus and value on progress rather than just on the achievement of the goal.

Ultimately enjoy the focused time. Use it as an opportunity to recognise individuals for their achievements and demonstrate sponsorship for their ongoing development. This will lead to increased loyalty, engagement and a commitment to you and the practice which can only be a positive for everyone.

Keep encouraging staff development by looking at our range of primary care programmes. Our Care Navigation and Enhanced Communication Skills programme has been specifically designed for all patient-facing staff in general practice. Get in touch at to find out more.

This blog was written by Helen Bessell.

How can we make this protected time a valuable and personally rewarding investment for our staff, teams, and ultimately our patients?