The Death of Performance Reviews

Roger P. Levin, DDS


Performance reviews are a staple of business employment policy. By reviewing employees regularly, companies hope to provide them with an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, what they need to work on, and any raises for the coming year. This sounds like a good thing, right? 

Unfortunately however well-intended performance reviews are, most employees dread them, view them as unproductive, and are only interested in how they will impact their compensation. So given how they are really viewed, do performance reviews still make sense? 

Are Performance Reviews Worth the Worry? 

There is a growing movement that recognizes that performance reviews may have a more negative effect than positive, and the way they’re handled isn’t beneficial to either the employee or the company. 

Ask anybody how they feel about their upcoming employee review. You’d never hear “Great!” or “I can’t wait!” It’s far more likely that they’d say something like “I don’t know”  or “I just wish it was over already.” 

This isn’t because people aren’t good at their jobs. Most employees experience a great amount of tension before a performance review because they know that they’re not simply going to be told how wonderful they are. In most cases, there will be criticism. And even if the criticism is productive, it still comes across in a negative way.

Although dental team members may not be quite as concerned about losing their jobs as others in the business world, they still feel that performance reviews are just a negative session that they would rather skip. In fact, they’ve often mentally checked out before they’ve even entered the room.

Between worrying about where they’ve fallen short or how their weaknesses may impact their compensation, many dental team members pay little attention to the information provided in their review. Even worse, the person facilitating the review is often ill-equipped to properly present the information in a motivating or encouraging manner.

A Better Approach

Rather than waiting for the annual performance review to point out a mistake or job well done, it’s far more powerful to provide feedback as different situations and scenarios arise. Letting people know when they’ve made a mistake is just as important as letting them know what they’ve done wrong. And be careful not to forget about providing appreciation, compliments, and recognition. All positive feedback should be doled out when appropriate as well.

The practice of providing immediate and continual feedback is usually received extremely well by most team members, and only those who resent any kind of mentoring, coaching, or recommendations will find it unpleasant. Receiving regular feedback allows team members to make immediate corrections in performance, which is beneficial to them and the entire practice. 


I predict that companies will start to eliminate performance reviews. This is not because they are afraid to upset people as much as it is about the realization that performance reviews may be more damaging than beneficial.

We encourage doctors and office managers to provide feedback on a regular basis in the spirit of helping employees improve their performance as well as contribute positively to the entire team. If you believe that most team members are committed to the practice and want to do a great job, immediate feedback will be a much more powerful and effective methodology than the annual performance review.

Dr. Levin is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm. Founded in 1985, Levin Group has worked with more than 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin is one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry and is a leading authority on dental practice success and sustainable growth. Through extensive research and cutting-edge innovation, Dr. Levin is a recognized expert on propelling practices into the top 10%. He has authored 65 books and more than 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. Dr. Levin also sits on the editorial board of five prominent dental publications and has been named as one of the “Leaders in Dentistry” by Dentistry Today for the last 15 years. He was recently named one of the “32 Most Influential People in Dentistry” by Incisal Edge and voted Best Dental Consultant by the readers of He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Time magazine and is the creator of the Levin Group Tip of the Day, which has more than 30,000 subscribers. To contact Dr. Levin, visit or email

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