Team Meetings Post Pandemic
Nowadays, millions of meetings are held in businesses to improve operational systems and team morale, yet many dentists traditionally have resisted staff meetings. The unnecessary drama, meetings that didn’t produce results, and lost production sighted as reasons to avoid meetings. Even once a month a two-hour meeting is met with pushback because it takes up “production time.”
Meetings traditionally have been held within the brick and mortar office; however, virtual meetings held via ZOOM or another online meeting software have become popular worldwide during the pandemic. These meetings have become the lifeline for communicating without physical contact. Online sessions had reached millions of people during the pandemic when the physical world shut down.
Post pandemic virtual meetings should continue to be held instead of in-office meetings where the team is distracted by the time it takes to deliver the new patient care protocols and the OSHA and HIPAA challenges of patient care and compliance. They can be arranged after patient hours on a day convenient for all. Whether you choose to have face to face, virtual, or a mixture of venues, don’t drop the ball on communication.
Establishing the habit of morning and monthly meetings keep the team tuned up and motivated. The daily meeting should still be the cornerstone of the direction of patient flow for the day. Planning the day together instead of just letting it happen is the proactive approach to harmony.
It is easy to say that productive meetings are those in which the members take some responsibility and are eager to be accountable for the results. Dental employees have said that the staff meeting is usually about things that the dentist considered needing improvement, and general blame put to all even the people not involved in the issues. Meetings without the participation of the group are often seen as too authoritarian and met with resistance. Some say these meetings are like a group performance assessment. But without the details of who, what, when, and how of improvement.
Some dentists say that it is easier to solve the problem themselves instead of dealing with the people that work for him/her. The lack of leadership can undermine the team who look to the dentist, CEO, for guidance.
What to do to take the stress out of staff meetings and get positive results takes some planning, but once established, everyone looks forward to discussing important issues. The following list designed for a monthly meeting will help get you on the right path:
- Provide a Continuous Improvement Agenda form posted at the staff lounge area a month before the meeting date. Sharing the plan via office email is another way. Allowing all staff members to make suggestions is encouraged and rewarded.
- The form will include the following:
- The issue to be discussed.
- A suggested resolve for the issue
- The person who posted the issue
- The expected amount of time to accomplish the issue
- The people suggested or encouraged to help solve the problem.
- Everyone is invited to participate in a “safe” atmosphere of exchange of ideas.
- Every practice has its own culture. Some people are eager to express an opinion, and some rarely speak. Ask everyone to offer at least one suggestion. Time each speaker for two minutes, ensuring all get an opportunity to talk.
- Don’t start the meeting with personal or negative subjects begin with a patient’s compliment or a useful online review. End the session on a positive note.
- If there are performance issues with any staff members, do not use the staff meeting as a “stoning” session. Private conversations show respect and fairness.
- Complete the meeting about 10 minutes before patients arrive to give the staff time to prepare. A meeting survey form for providing feedback is recommended. Answers can be anonymous.
- The Office Manager or doctor will have a list of business statistics to discuss, such as:
- Number of monthly new patients (average)
- Number of active patients (those seen in the last 18 months)
- Number of inactive patients/patient retention efforts to activate
- Production/Collection numbers for the month and year (net)
- Treatment acceptance statistics
- The number of emergency patients/converted emergency patients.
- Scheduling issues and suggestions for improvement
- Training and continuing education offers
For the best performing team, leadership that is fair and consistent must be present in practice daily.
Bringing our practices back to some semblance of routine is going to be a work in progress and will take more teamwork than ever. Empathy and patience are the order of the day to bring harmony and understanding. Together we can solve these issues and bring dentistry back to the essential business it has always been.
An office I worked in had a list in the lunchroom to make it easy to note a topic that needed to be addressed in the meeting. The office manager would go down the list and allow the person a few minutes to discuss the topic at the meeting and then everyone would give their feedback.
What a great strategy! I’m sure that was an efficient way to keep track of topics for discussion, as well as leaving room for new ideas. Thanks for sharing, Yvonne!