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Sparking engagement in the daily huddle

March 12, 2021
Does your dental practice have a daily huddle? Do you find it engaging and helpful, or more of an obligation? If it's the latter, Beverly Wilburn, MAADOM, has some suggestions to bring increased engagement and enjoyment to your daily meeting.

Oh, the morning huddle. Many offices find them very productive and would not be able to function without them. Others find them a nuisance amounting to no more than pointless chatter that many would rather avoid.

 What is a huddle, anyway?

As a noun, the definition of “huddle” is “a crowded or confused mass of people or things.”1 Wow! Crowded? Confused? What a way to think of the thing we feel forced to do almost every single day. A confused mass of people doesn’t sound very nice. But guess what? If we define huddle as an action, we get “crowd together; nestle closely.”1 Now there’s the warm-hearted snuggle we were looking for. Huddles serve us best when used as an action, not a thing. 

Take action

Use these five tips to generate a spark with your team, create harmony, boost practice statistics and maybe, just maybe, have a little fun along the way.    

  1. Leader of the pack. For most of us, there is nothing worse than sitting there and listening to the same person, the same rote voice, reading from a script or a morning huddle checklist of blah,blah,blah, each and every day. Unless your office employs a comedic star or a therapist, it is a great idea to rotate the person leading the meeting each day. This ensures that each voice is heard and gives rights and responsibilities to the leader of the day to run the meeting as they wish. When we are given power and responsibility and feel in-charge, we aim higher. This may not be realistic for some people in your office. You may have shy people, or you may have people who are less confident. That is totally ok. Assign two people together as a duo. One could be your super confident assistant and one maybe your slightly less confident scheduler. Allow them to run the meeting together if this works. This will help build the confidence of your shyest team members while toning down some of your more boisterous ones.
  2. Time is of the essence. Who ever said morning huddles had to be in the morning? What about an evening huddle? What about a noontime huddle? The important part is that the key players are there, and that we directly define and outline the timeline of events the huddle will cover. If you huddle in the evening for the next day, make sure that the next day is the focus. It is totally ok to take 2–3 minutes to settle any leftover items from earlier, but try to handle that swiftly and move on to the next day. One suggestion is that if you are going to meet the day before, use an email system, an app, a whiteboard or other comfortable communication tool so that everyone remembers all the important items discussed. Some offices have been very successful with doing two small huddles daily. This works especially well for split-shift offices. Do what feels right for you and your practice. If your team members are not early birds or morning people, or if the doctor isn’t, move the time. 
  3. Design the outline. Don’t make demands on what should be discussed. Of course there are musts but what is important to you may not be important to the rest of the team and may not be important to discuss at the huddle specifically. The front office team doesn’t need to know what type of cement is needed in room 2 at 10:00am, but they do need to know if the crown isn’t fully paid for and there is an expectation of money to be collected. The clinical team should also be aware of outstanding bills, as there may be a later patient upset if the crown is cemented without being paid for. Have each team member write out one or two items they feel are important and need to be discussed and develop your office huddle outline together. Write it all up in checklist form.
  4. Marketing success. Internal marketing should have a significant voice at your huddles. Where did your new patients that are scheduled today find you? Is this new patient afraid of the dentist? When was Mrs. Jones’ husband last in for his hygiene visit? Who is getting a care-to-share card or patient gift today? Who is likely to leave a nice online review and who should ask for it? All of these things are important to the longer-term success of the practice; having the team on board with what is going on with the day’s patients gives them the ability to exemplify better patient communication and care. It will speak volumes to the patients that are scheduled. They will genuinely feel it.
  5. Dare to prepare. Preparation is key. You would never walk into an operatory with nothing set up and an unclear idea as to what you want the outcome of the treatment to be. You would never get on the phone with an insurance company without the patient data in front of you, so don’t do this with your huddles either. One person doesn’t have to prepare everything. When you design your outline, identify who will be responsible for what and have them prepare it. Being prepared allows more control and boosts the confidence of your team members. Create the tools to help them be ready and know their day ahead. 


You and your team can easily complete a productive huddle in about 10–15 minutes. If numbers are your thing, there are plenty of new software overlay programs and apps that will create checklists and statistics at the press of a button. There are social media groups such as the Facebook group “Huddle Up! The Morning Huddle for Dental Teams” created solely to provide morning huddle inspiration. By exploring what works for your team and not simply sticking to the status quo, you might just find your huddles one of the most enjoyable parts of your day. When we enjoy things, we engage. Get engaged.


1.     “Huddle” definition. Lexico. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/huddle

BEVERLY WILBURN, MAADOM, is the office manager of Karl A. Smith, DDS, LLC Periodontics and Implants in Alexandria, Virginia, and Waldorf, Maryland. In addition to managing a multi-location specialty practice full time, she offers part-time comprehensive consulting services for periodontists and case acceptance and marketing services for other dental specialists and multi-specialty groups. She also consults for several dental malpractice attorneys. She is a lifetime member of AADOM, a member of three local AADOM chapters in the Washington, DC, metro area, and serves as the executive administrator for the Virginia Society of Periodontists.