Team Meetings are a Total Waste of Time — if they’re not productive

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Team meetings can serve to resolve a multitude of issues and keep everyone on the same journey with the same goals focusing on the same outcomes, but not every team meeting is effective, productive, and useful. They can actually be detrimental to all that we are hoping to accomplish.

Do you find that your team meetings are beneficial?

Do you walk away from them feeling as though some valuable contributions were made?

Did you look around the room and see blank stares and did you find that even you were yawning?

More so, do the areas of discussion and suggestions made ever get implemented–and do they stick?

Setting aside time to conduct team meetings is a waste of precious time if they don’t serve the purpose that they are intended to serve; because you could easily be treating your patients instead. Spending the time chatting about favorite restaurants, movies you’ve seen, or even comical situations that occurred in the office is not putting forth the effort needed to troubleshoot areas that need attention to better serve your patients and each other.

This is not to say that all non business-related conversation is off limits, it’s that the group needs to understand when it’s time to get down to the purpose of your meeting and concentrate on the matters at hand.

Developing a standardized protocol for these meetings and pre-scheduling them is a fine idea, but if they become more of a social hour than anything else, perhaps you need to examine the structure you’ve been following and revisit what is working and what isn’t.

There are offices that follow basically the same template, with the same outline of subjects, the same structure, AND the same people contributing while the same people do not. How can a meeting be “spiced up” and have value and purpose?

There are a number of ways to kick things up and make this hour or two together a very important facet of your dental practice. Do you, the leader, ever think about starting the meeting highlighting accomplishments and kudos that occurred since the last meeting? There are always wins and victories that can be brought to the team’s attention. Everything that occurred over the past few weeks doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom.

Making it a point to start every meeting with positives will serve a number of purposes. Success breeds more success, and you will find that you will instantly get the attention of the group when you begin the program by not only recognizing those people that gave something extra, but praise the entire team for their efforts.

People are much more likely to listen to what you have to say when the discourse starts with some positive feedback. It is also not uncommon to find that one or two people tend to lead the discussions while there are others that simply listen, or perhaps “appear” as though they are listening.

Distractions can be working against the efficiency of these meetings as well, which is why gathering over the lunch hour takes some careful planning. Everyone has to understand the “value” of your get-together and realize that it is an extension of your workday–a responsibility that all team members must honor.

Decide how long it will take to eat your lunch, stay on task, and begin the meeting after lunch has been consumed so that all eyes and ears are focused on the business at hand. Make sure the phone is switched to voice mail and offering a message that states “We are currently conducting our weekly meeting to assist us all in better serving our patients”.

Meeting somewhere out of the lobby/reception area is advised so that those patients that arrive early for their appointments do not interrupt the session. Posting a sign that indicates that you are conducting a team meeting that will end at (?) is an effective way to handle it.

So if you feel you want to maintain your meeting routine on a regular basis there are things that should be observed in order to help assure that it is as beneficial and productive as it can be:

  • Pre-set every meeting for the year and keep the dates!
  • Change up the agenda and consider varying the format to keep them interesting yet informative
  • Don’t have any outside interferences that will distract the group and minimize the value of the process
  • The leader (doctor) should be aware of positives that occurred since the last meeting and offer “kudos” at the onset of the business segment of the meeting. There is always something good to say about someone! Start watching for things and make note of them–success breeds success!
  • Delegate different team members to officiate and develop a format to follow so that creating the subject matter isn’t difficult and stressful
  • Make certain the goals that were set when you last met have been successfully implemented. Setting goals without tracking goals is a waste of precious time, and if all that is accomplished are discussions with no follow-through, what good is meeting in the first place?
  • Like everything else we do, when we see the value in something we respect its importance.

You might want to take a look at ourdentalteam.com, which can document all the individual contributions your team makes that aren’t tracked by your practice management software. It’s a great way to share team success, and can be a huge motivational tool.

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2 thoughts on “Team Meetings are a Total Waste of Time — if they’re not productive

  1. Deb, this is a great post and relevant to every dental office. As a coach for dentists, I often am asked to help them run successful, productive team meetings. We start with positives. Then we move on to following up on the things from the last meeting that required some kind of action or change. One format is to then give every team member a chance to bring forth issues, comments or suggestions. I always have someone recording “minutes” which are usually divided into General, Clinical, Hygiene, Admin categories (which makes it easy to read and easy to find that which affects YOU). Those minutes get typed up and emailed to every team member right after the meeting. They also get posted in the staff room. Before each next meeting, I suggest that the dentist or office manager review those minutes, remind anyone with an ‘action item’ that they will be asked for a follow up report at the next meeting. Nothing gets missed, everyone knows that what they say matters and that there is always follow up. This method is fast, easy, effective and productive!

  2. Good for you Kristin!! Just another example of why being well organized and structured is good for business! Your clients and teams are lucky to have you in their corner. Everyone needs a cheerleader/coach!

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