Get your staff on the same page by having productive meetings every week. Here are five simple tips to help make sure your meetings are productive.
1. Meet at the Same Time Every Week
Carve out time in your schedule every week for a staff meeting and let your employees know when they are required to attend. If you schedule the meeting for the same time every week, eventually it will become a habit and so will better communication. Hour-long meetings are standard, and many dental practices choose to offer a working lunch once a week so employees can eat while they meet.
2. Create an Agenda
An agenda is one of the most important things to have before any meeting. Your agenda is essentially a list of the topics you want to discuss during the meeting, possibly broken down by different departments.
For example, you may want to address staff that work with insurance differently than you will your hygienists. You'll have different issues to address with each, beyond any issues you need to address with your staff as a whole.
Tips on Creating an Effective Agenda
You can create an effective agenda for your dental team meeting by:
- Listing the most important topics to discuss at the top of the agenda. If you run out of time, you've addressed critical issues first and non-essentials can be moved to the next staff meeting or addressed separately.
- Preparing materials in advance. If you'll have a report that your staff needs to review or you have new office policy documents, have these printed and ready before the staff meeting. You don't want to be scrambling for papers or not have enough reports for everyone when you only have an hour to get through a lot of information.
- Setting time restrictions on certain topics. Don't spend 40 minutes of your staff meeting discussing one topic and then try to cram the other ten you need to talk about into the last 20 minutes. Set time restrictions for different topics and let your staff know that you'll have a certain amount of time dedicated to that topic before you move on. For example, if you have an hour and four departments, it might make sense to spend 15 minutes discussing issues with each different department.
Follow your agenda and make sure to have someone take minutes. Identify "action items" and whose plate they are on, and then set a time to follow up on each of those items.
3. Set Expectations and Boundaries
It's critical that you set expectations for the meetings and boundaries that let your employees know what is and isn't appropriate to discuss.
What Team Meetings Are For
A dental team meeting is designed to bring you and your staff up to speed on the performance of the practice as a whole, where your weaknesses are, and what your goals are. You can keep your staff updated about plans for your dental practice or changes in policies, or you can use the time for employee training.
What Team Meetings Aren't For
A dental team meeting is not designed to be a therapy session or an "airing of the grievances." If employees bring up issues that need to be resolved during a staff meeting, acknowledge them and set a time and date to discuss specifically that matter directly with the staff members who are involved. Strive to keep team meetings positive and encouraging.
Let your employees know that negative behavior like gossiping, calling out mistakes, or placing blame will not be allowed. It's important that you don't ignore conflict that arises between staff members, but let them know that a separate conflict mediation meeting will need to take place outside the weekly dental team meeting.
4. Allow Staff Feedback
Give your employees time to offer feedback about what they feel is and isn't working well within the practice. After all, when you're stuck in a room focused on the inside of a patient's mouth, it can be difficult to know what is really going on in the rest of the office.
Let your employees tell you what is presenting challenges and listen to potential solutions before offering your own. When staff members offer you feedback, take good notes and make sure to follow up and make sure that any needs that were made known are now being met and if not, what you may be able to do next.
5. Set Goals
Staff meetings aren't productive if your team isn't continually improving. Be sure to set goals for upcoming meetings and then check in on the progress of those goals at every meeting. If goals are being met or exceeded, congratulate your staff on a job well done! If goals aren't getting met on a regular basis, you can dig deeper into figuring out why and address obstacles that keep your dental practice from peak performance.
Think Staff Meetings Aren't Necessary? Think Again
Staff meetings are critical for every dental practice. Make sure you and your staff are on the same page and that you make space for employee feedback by scheduling a dental team meeting every week, rain or shine.
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