4 rules to make sure staff meetings don't turn into staff beatings

Remember, problems in the dental practice aren’t going to go away just because you put your head in the sand. Communication and creative problem solving are essential for a team to thrive.

The number one reason I believe that teams are not having meetings is that the doctor doesn’t want to take productive time to sit around and hash out issues. Too often team meetings are staff beatings. The doctor sees 50% broken appointments and calls a “time out.” What happens? The doctor beats up the team with words and tone of voice that are indicative of a hopelessness he or she is feeling.

Remember, the problem isn’t going to go away just because you put your head in the sand. Communication and creative problem solving are essential for a team to thrive.

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There is so much that can be accomplished if you just commit to putting your heads together. As a consultant, I have always believed that my job is to bring the team members’ best ideas to fruition. Yes, I have the ability to teach systems and communication skills, but the best ideas are rooted in solving problems that team members already know exist.

There are four rules to follow that ensure a successful meeting. Check them out on the next page...

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1. Pre-appoint a day of the month or day of the week (if you wish to commit to weekly meetings) and block that day and time off from the schedule. Ideally, meetings start on time and finish on time when they are scheduled first thing in the morning. However, I’ve worked with teams that compromise due to already established schedules (such as the hygienist’s slate). Ending your day with a meeting is the worst time because energy levels are at the lowest so creativity suffers.

2. Pre-determine who will facilitate the meeting. Each team member can have the opportunity to guide the meeting. It helps take the onus off of one person, often the office manager or the doctor, so posting a schedule of your pre-appointed dates with the name of the facilitator gives everyone ample notice to be prepared.

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3. Pre-determine who will record your agreements throughout the meeting. This person should be keeping an action plan for what will be done, who will be responsible for the task, and what his or her target date is. The easiest way to conclude the meeting is to ask the question, “What have we decided to do differently today?” and to review the recorder’s list for completeness.

4. Pre-assign the agenda content. There are several types of agendas. They can stand alone or you can start by combining any of these topics. You and your doctor do not want to sit down and look around at each other asking, “So what would you like to talk about?”

Check out the next page for thoughts on the best ways to prepare an agenda...


Best tips for maximizing your agenda

Open agenda items can be posted on a form in the team lounge so that anyone may add to it during the weeks or months prior to a meeting date. They may be items that consistently present as problems, or simple decisions to make, such as when the annual holiday party is. The role of the facilitator is to look at this list the day before the meeting and prioritize the order.

Business has a place in team meetings. Were the doctor’s and/or hygienist’s daily goals met? Was the collection goal met? Were new patient numbers and case acceptance met? If not, why not and ask yourselves, “What can we do differently? What did we decide?” and write it down on your action plan.

Training is always a good agenda item. A team member may have attended a CE course recently and this is a good time to share what was learned. Also, sales reps may wish to bring in lunch and introduce your team to a new product. It often also works well for a business assistant to teach the clinical team how to enter treatment plans into the computer or the hygienist to teach assistants how to sort and store films.

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Using these four rules to get started will allow you to accomplish so much more together. Remember TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More!

Editor's Note: Photo via Shutterstock.