Tips to Make Team Meetings PRODUCTIVE and INTERESTING
If the highlight of team meetings are the doughnuts, or worse – venting with little hope of change, it’s time to shift the agenda! Managing a dental practice is no easy feat. The daily demands of providing top quality dental care can require even more effort than the actual treatment provided. Dentists must communicate effectively with patients and staff, ensure compliance is maintained
with proper protocols, monitor scheduling, check on lab cases, communicate with specialists and oversee the business aspect of the practice. The list of responsibilities can seem daunting.
Shift from Burden to Opportunity
Team meetings should not be an added burden to an already difficult job. When structured properly, they can provide motivation and additional learning opportunities. They activate brainstorming sessions and facilitate communication, ideally providing added enthusiasm that helps move your practice forward.
Team Huddle vs. Team Meeting, What’s the Difference?
Start with setting and communicating clear objectives for your monthly meetings. This is a team building event – don’t simply save up all the little things to discuss. Small items, such as “Don’t forget chart notes need to be completed by the end of each day”, can be addressed quickly at morning huddles. The monthly team meeting is reserved for growth topics. It is a chance for everyone to hear the same information at the same time. The “No one ever told me” response is gone forever. Try out the following agenda to create a meeting everyone looks forward to!
Kudos (10 minutes)
Celebrate your success as a team! Inspire each other. Allow time for everyone to throw out “kudos” for a team member that went the extra mile last month. Perhaps someone worked through difficult communication with a patient that ended in smiles; or stayed late to help with a case that ran longer than expected; or covered for a staff member that was out sick. Don’t miss an opportunity to pat someone on the back. Time for kudos will start the meeting on a positive note.
Follow-up (10 minutes)
Review the notes from the previous meeting and the assigned task list. If someone wasn’t able to complete their assigned task, find out why and offer support to make this happen. Time for follow-up holds team members accountable.
New Business (20 minutes)
This time is reserved for staff members to bring up topics that need clarification, reminders to follow set protocols and general questions. Hopefully, quick questions for clarification have taken place at morning huddles; this is a time for discussions that need more time than the morning huddle allows. Sadly, many practices don’t move past this section of their team meeting. When the team meeting gets stuck here, it is impossible to provide a meeting that is both productive and interesting. It is critical to move through topics in this section and allow enough time for the next agenda item.
Growth Topics (40 minutes)
Positivity shouldn’t end with kudos, the bulk of the meeting should be spent on growth topics. These topics are initiated by either the dentist, who has identified an area he/she would like to coach and teach, or initiated by staff members who are requesting additional knowledge. Post an agenda in a central location so staff members can add to it as topics come to mind.
Need a few ideas? Here are some talking points to start with:
- Share the practice’s performance; are the numbers matching the growth goals? If not, brainstorm solutions.
- Share what the dentist looks for in a panoramic or cone beam image.
- Share a difficult or complicated case and review best protocols.
- Review scripting and critical patient transitions from the clinic to the administration team – and between the doctor and clinical staff. What needs to be handed off in front of the patient for enhanced case acceptance?
- Improve patient interview skills and review open-ended vs. close-ended questions.
Once a growth topic is selected, don’t stray from this objective. Meetings go awry quickly when the train is derailed from the track. As side-line topics are introduced, add them to the topic list for another meeting and get the train back on track.
Closing Comments (10 minutes)
The last 10 minutes should wrap up the meeting, resulting in an action plan and assigning tasks to individual team members; task assignment creates and supports accountability. Consider rotating the role of note taking at meetings. Post meeting notes in a central location.
Team meetings help staff stay focused on what really matters to the practice and doctor. They develop team synergy and create a sense of importance for their contributions. Dental teams change lives; be proud of what you do and let your team know. Team meetings should further hone skills and allow open communication to support patient care and practice goals!
To be clear….don’t forget the doughnuts!
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