Seven years ago, I was in trouble at AAHA. Then the editor of Trends, I was working harder and harder—and pleasing the management team less and less. No matter what I did, it seemed to be wrong. I’m highly skilled, I exceeded my goals, I was as engaged as I could be. Trends was succeeding like never before, my management responsibilities had expanded, and I even created a new line of business that outgrew all expectations. From the traditional point of view of performance management—setting goals and achieving them effectively and efficiently—I was a star.

I was in love with my job and on fire for AAHA’s mission—and totally miserable. In weekly meetings with my boss, we measured my progress against goals, and he coached me as well as he could on how to handle difficult situations. I even read How to Make Friends and Influence People (cheesy title, great book!). Trends continued to shine, my new program grew like crazy, but, still, nothing worked. No one wanted me to fail, and no one could put their finger on why I was.

Enter the 360 review.

A 360, or global, review is a survey distributed broadly—up, down, and sideways within an organization, and sometimes even beyond the organization to customers, vendors, and professional colleagues. A global review shows how a team member builds value for an organization—where and how she contributes and fits in (or not). My performance had been closely managed for several months—the 360 review would serve as both diagnosis and an evaluation.

Management and I went into the review with very different expectations: I expected to come out smelling like a rose, and management expected to prove to me my weaknesses. As it turned out, we were both surprised. Management was surprised to see that I was actually functioning better than common perception would indicate, and my boss was surprised to discover that the feedback he had been offering was creating results the upper management team didn’t want to see. I was surprised to learn that management disapproved of how I was achieving my goals.

After the 360, everything changed. I continued to receive in-depth feedback—ongoing and on-demand, whenever my boss or I felt the need for a quick check-in or tune-up. But now, the feedback was based on reliable information rather than assumptions. Most importantly, I have a new appreciation for how clarifying expectations and gathering feedback from all corners of the association—management, teammates, and members—helps me stay on top of my game. I’ve been lucky to have a management team that is comfortable telling me both good news and hard truths.

Thanks to a comprehensive performance management system—and a management team willing to invest in it—I’m an AAHA success story. There are lots of success stories here at AAHA because our management team insists on a performance management system that gives every person their best chance to shine.

I learned firsthand that performance management isn’t just about using SMART goals or twice-yearly performance reviews, it’s about engaging with employees and using whatever tools you have to help them shine. Performance management can change lives—for you, your staff, your clients, and the reason we all come to work: the pets.

That’s why, as AAHA’s editor in chief, I’m excited to introduce the all-new, fully revised A Practical Guide to Managing Employee Performance in Veterinary Practices by Karen Parker, DVM. Order your copy today at

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