This post is adapted from our previous blog post How to Continually Improve Quality in Your Organization.
Why Offer Self-Assessments
Self-assessments and internal audits are very important when dealing with accreditation, safety and compliance. For accreditation bodies, offering a self-assessment module to your clients positions your organization as a resource to improve and succeed more so than a deeming body. For compliance and safety related organizations – such as a facilities management group, a self-assessment could act as a ‘preventive maintenance program.’ In both cases, self-assessments provide a means for highlighting areas of improvement, therefore managing a certain amount of risk associated with your organization.
We work closely with a clinical accrediting body that offers self-assessments to its clients as a resource that is helpful to them, encouraged not required and that offers a definitive solution. We’ve gathered these tips together as ‘best practices’ in their experience when offering self-assessments. The dos and don’ts of the whole process.
The accreditor is required to assess its clients every two years provides and encourages the use of self-assessments year-round to ensure continual quality in their laboratories. A lot can happen in two years – new staff, aging equipment, etc. – and these variables affect the quality of day-to-day operations. That’s where self-assessments come into play, monitoring and evaluating changing variables and directing executives towards vulnerabilities that require attention.
Self-Assessments Should be Easy to Find and Use
If they are hard to find, they won’t get done. Offer the assessments online, on a website or portal that your clients or employees already use. Provide quick links on your website to access the assessments and include them in your newsletters or informative emails.
All it takes is a subtle reminder that it is there as a resource. You want to encourage the use of this tool as much as you can without being pushy. Team up with your marketing department and run a promotional campaign around self-assessments for your customers. Include links in newsletters and client outreach to encourage use as well.
Allow the option to fill out the assessment online or print it out and complete it. Though recording this information online and reporting it is much faster, everyone has their own preferences and you don’t want to discourage the use of these assessments in any way.
Don’t require them, if possible
If you are in an industry where self-assessments are mandated by the government, state, or upper-management, this is obviously not an option.
Otherwise, don’t require them – this immediately puts a negative taste in your client’s mouth. You want the self-assessments to be seen as a tool to improve and help you or your client’s organization, not another deadline to meet. This can also lead to inaccurate or false data as client’s rush to finish an assessment prior to a deadline.
Don’t use the results against your clients/employees
This is the most important ‘best practice’ regarding self-assessments. You want the intended users to complete these self-assessments on their own because they want to improve the quality of their operations. When you use the information uncovered from these assessments against your clients, it feels like a “big brother” tool to oversee and penalize instead of mentor and assist.
Instead, promote the assessments and praise those who use them. Say ‘thanks’ with a personalized email or enter into a drawing for a small gift. A small gesture can mean a lot and continue the positivity around self assessments.
When you receive the results from a self-assessment, the best thing you can offer is a means of follow-up. There are a few options to make the most of the information revealed. You could have a review committee that pairs a mentor or subject matter expert to assist in the specific areas of concern. Schedule a call to shed light on recommendations for the client or create email templates compiling recommendations for each section of your self assessment and remediation best practices.
You could also offer an educational cross-walk to each question/section in your self-assessment. This way, if your employees or clients are non-compliant in any area, you are offering a resource to inform them of why this happened and classes that will educate employees on how to do things better. This is more formalized, and after set up can be automated to save your organization time.