Orchestrating productive dental team meetings everyone will want to attend

Dental teams do not need to dread huddles or team meetings. If planned properly, team meetings can be productive and actually anticipated by the staff. No, really.

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This article originally appeared in Dental Office Manager Digest e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative monthly ENL designed specifically for the dental office manager here.

Dental teams do not need to dread huddles or team meetings. If planned properly, team meetings can be productive and actually anticipated by the staff. No, really.
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Meetings

When I speak to dental teams, the number one thing I hear from them is that there is a lack of communication in the office. So, I ask them about team meetings. More often than not, practices hold daily huddles, but I’ve discovered that practices often do not hold routine team meetings. When I ask why, they say that meetings are a waste of time, they get scheduled and then cancelled because of patient appointments, or they answer with the dreaded, “We only have a team meeting when the doctor wants to yell at all of us at the same time.”

Meetings are the way for a productive and successful team to move, grow, and communicate. The purpose of a team meeting—whether it’s a huddle, monthly meeting, or department meeting—is to communicate and motivate. Let’s take a look at the different meetings in dental offices, and discuss some systems for making them so productive that your team will actually look forward to them.

Huddle

The huddle is a daily gathering of the entire team for a quick review of the day. In the military, it’s called the POD, plan of the day. It puts everyone on the same page so they are totally focused on the operations of the office.

The ground rules we recommend for the huddle include for everyone to attend and participate, to keep the meeting to 10–15 minutes because this keeps it moving quickly and everyone on topic, and finally, to have each person present a quick report about their patients for the day.

What should be discussed? I recommend whatever is determined to be important for the team and doctor, such as recall status, unscheduled treatments, medical issues, balances with the office, premed details, and more. I’ve created a checklist for each department. Drop me an email at info@GTSgurus.com if you would like a copy.

The meeting should end with a quick review of the numbers—what was completed yesterday, what is scheduled for today, and what the office has scheduled for the month.

Team meetings

Routine team meetingsare typically longer than huddles. They should be held on a monthly basis, and there should be more time for discussion than there is during the huddle. A few good discussion areas are production and collection numbers, a new patient report and new patient referral sources, who is going to be out of the office in the near future, and other operational items.

Here are some of the ground rules we recommend for team meetings:

• Everyone should attend and participate.
• If the meeting is held during lunch, allow 90 minutes, with the first 30 minutes for eating in order to minimize distractions. This way the meeting will have everyone’s attention.
• Post an agenda in the break room so that everyone has a chance to post any topics they want to discuss.
• Stick to the agenda for a more productive meeting. End the meeting with an action plan of tasks that the team has decided needs to be completed. Assign each task to team members to complete, as well as a deadline to ensure tasks are completed. Any task not completed by the next meeting should be put back on the agenda with a status update. (If you would like a sample agenda or action plan, email info@GTSgurus.com.)
• Have a recorder on hand to take notes of the all topics discussed during the meeting. This gives the office data of topics covered. If someone is absent, this provides a resource to keep them in the loop.
• Review one office protocol—for example, how everyone prepares a treatment plan—with a rotation of presenters. Again, this keeps everyone on the same page.

More things to consider for either meeting

Define the purpose of the meetings and when the meetings will typically be held.

Huddles are usually daily, but not everyone schedules them first thing in the morning. Some huddles are held at the end of the day or during the day due to varying work schedules on whichever day of the week works for the team.

Team meetings need to be held on a routine schedule, for instance, once a week during lunch, once a month, or once a quarter. Determine who needs to attend the meeting and how you will notify those who need to attend. How long will the meeting last?

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MORE ARTICLES BY DENISE CIARDELLO
4 keys to maintaining a successful recall system in your dental practice
Trouble keeping up with the not-so-daily responsibilities in your dental practice?
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Do you feel your meetings are a waste of time? Do team members think communication is lacking in your practice? As a dental office goes through the day-to-day activity, communication is key to smooth, seamless processes. Improved communication keeps the entire team on track, which in turn increases team confidence and patient care.

As a bonus, communication will improve the bottom line. Only then will your office be able to grow and meet goals that are set forth by the team. Get the team excited about attending and participating in office meetings by adding structure and a few ground rules and forethought.

Denise Ciardello CopyDenise Ciardello always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, and today she is the cofounder of Global Team Solutions (GTS), a practice management consulting firm. Denise is also a professional speaker and published author who brings experience, insight, creativity, and a sense of humor into her consulting. She has served as president of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, Toastmasters International, and Directory of Dental Speakers. She can be reached at denise@GTSgurus.com.


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