Do you dread staff meetings or avoid them altogether? The reason that staff meetings can be doomed to fail is because they are not focused, there is no accountability and they rarely achieve results. Most importantly, the meeting isn’t followed with a time bound action plan that makes attendees accountable for producing results.
Regularly scheduled staff meetings provide an opportunity to review the office philosophy, redefine goals and decide on the process to achieve goals. It is a chance to share ideas that enhance the growth of the practice. Marketing ideas and strategies can be established through “brainstorming” sessions. All team members should bring ideas to the meeting with the assurance that they will not be criticized for suggestions. It must be a non-threatening environment. This process encourages growth and reinforces our commitment to the success of the dental practice. Dedicated professionals rely on their colleagues as a resource for creativity and problem solving. Every member must participate in some way, even if it is to share a compliment that they received from a patient, or something positive that he/she feels about the practice in a non-threatening format.
Staff meetings provide an opportunity to resolve issues, which can grow into conflicts. When issues remain unresolved tension is created which leads to a build up of emotionally based issues. Conflict cannot be resolved when it is clouded by emotion. It is much easier to resolve issues as they arise. Staff meetings are also an opportunity to motivate each other and encourage excellence in service and skill.
A copy of the agenda should be given to each staff member before the meeting or posted in a common area where everyone can see. Between meetings each staff member should be encouraged to write a topic on the agenda and place their initials next to it. The format is flexible to allow room for discussion and encourage all staff members to share their thoughts and suggestions at the meeting.
Set ground rules for the meeting to provide structure and decorum. Here is an example:
Ground Rules for a Successful Meeting:
q Everyone must participate.
q If you bring a problem, bring a proposed solution.
q New ideas are celebrated.
q Everyone believes that change is positive.
q Everyone is committed to the process and agrees to commit to and support the opinions of others.
q One person is selected to take minutes and prepare an action plan.
q Personal attacks and bickering will not be tolerated.
q Issues and actions are to be discussed and agreed upon at each meeting and discussed as a team. When the meeting has concluded, further discussion will cease between staff members. If the issue remains unresolved it will be tabled and reviewed again at the next meeting.
q Everyone’s opinion counts.
q Everyone agrees to stay on track. One team member will be assigned to keep the group focused.
q Every meeting will include a financial review.
Take the madness out of the method. Choose an open ended method that encourages participation from everyone, even the benchwarmers. Change facilitators at every meeting, so even the benchwarmers have an opportunity to show their leadership skills and guide the meeting.
One person is selected as the facilitator. At the end of the meeting the facilitator will select next month’s facilitator.
- Each team member will be asked to state one word of a topic he/she wishes to open for discussion. If you can not think of a topic at that time say “pass.”
- The facilitator writes the word on the flip chart with the initials of the team member.
- The facilitator will continue around the room until there are two clean passes. In other words, when there are no further topics to be discussed the meeting begins.
- The facilitator selects the first topic of discussion.
- As each topic is discussed, the person who opened the discussion will select the next topic.
- If there are issues that come up at the meeting that cannot be discussed and either reach a resolution or become an action item, ‘park ‘em’. Put them in the green P parking lot to be rediscussed at the next meeting. In many cases, by the time the next meeting occurs, the issue has either been resolved or a solution is presented at the next meeting.
Create an Action Plan
The missing link in most staff meetings is having an action plan that holds everyone accountable to create the results and make it time bound. To build accountability into your meeting and to move the practice forward, have time bound action plans. Determine what the action is, what the level of priority is, who will complete the action and by when. This is one of the most essential components of your meeting. Without an action plan, you will likely continue to keep rehashing old issues without resolution. Get results…take action!
Quote of the Day – “Outstanding leaders go out fo their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” Sam Walton