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Dental Consultant Tips: Staff Meeting
Not knowing how to run an effective staff meeting can have some negative consequences in the overall health of your dental practice. We’ve found that many offices don’t have meetings at all.
When they do, we often find that nobody gets anything out of them since poorly organized staff meetings can easily turn into gripe sessions that waste everyone’s time.
Staff meetings, or team huddles, should be useful and routine, not organized as emergencies because someone is upset or a team member has made a mistake. Calling a meeting for these reasons is usually ineffective and can actually be damaging.
Staff meetings that aren’t controlled by the dentist can turn into horrible experiences for everyone. If the entire team simply criticizes things that are wrong with the office without talking about effective ways to change or make things better, everyone’s time is wasted.
Meetings have to be something that your staff finds valuable in the week-to-week or day-to-day management of the practice. Otherwise, meetings are simply a management exercise that people attend only because the employer has called them and staff have to show up or they might lose their job. What types of contributions do you think you’ll get out of your staff if this is how meetings are conducted in your practice?
Here are the 5 super tips
Agenda: You should have a logical plan for your meeting and a very good idea of what you’re going to accomplish—in other words, an agenda. Use the meeting to keep employees updated on future plans, policy changes, production numbers, and to conduct group training as needed.
Most meetings that happen without an agenda are unproductive. It doesn’t matter if they take place at a big corporation, church, social gathering, or anyplace else. Meetings need to cover specific points and then move on, otherwise they will drag out and involve things that aren’t valuable to the entire group.
If you want to cover the performance of the group, think of it like halftime at a football game where the coach and team review the first half and make adjustments as needed for the second half. Someone needs to take notes so that the practice owner or office manager can follow up on what’s discussed and agreed upon.
Schedule: Meetings can be held each week or every other week, but they should be at least once a month. Have a standard time to meet and make sure everyone knows the schedule well in advance. The dentist and office manager should always attend, unless their schedules do not permit. But this should be the exception, not the rule. Each meeting should be approximately one hour long.
No-gripe zone: Staff meetings are not to be used as gripe sessions. Staff members should never be reprimanded for communicating. However, do not tolerate gossip, rumors, or causing a disturbance in the work area. Encourage staff to share their ideas for improving the practice’s services. Also, welcome suggestions to correct situations that might be hindering efficiency.
Provide different protocols other than the staff meeting to assist with management functions. For example, if a staff member wants to take a vacation, you should have a specific method by which employees request vacation time as part of a written general policy manual. If you don’t have such a protocol you might find employees complaining at the meeting that they haven’t been able to find a good time to take vacation, which steers the meeting off course. The staff meeting is not the time or place for this.
Training: Take the time to step back and analyze the practice to determine what areas need improvement and more training. Training should include actual role playing to help build a better practice. When appropriate, I highly recommend recording role playing so you can review it and observe for yourself what needs to be improved. It’s amazing to see oneself on video. Improvement can result from getting over one’s fear of the camera, thereby being able to exude more confidence when face-to-face with patients.
Successes: Drive home that you and the staff are a team that provides a valuable service to the community. A key part of a successful staff meeting is the sharing of patient testimonials. When patients tell team members that their visit to your office was something special, those comments need to be shared with the group because patient compliments are one of the highest forms of motivation. Great success stories from patients will give your staff fuel to do an even better job moving forward.
If you follow these tips and work at them diligently, you will learn that meetings can be very productive and actually increase efficiency and morale. Get started at your next meeting!
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There is the good, the bad and the ugly of dental practice management, but many dentists will still tell you the probability is your dental consulting will work if you and your consultant are on the same page. It stands to reason that if a dental consultant had little value, worth or benefit that consultant could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. A veteran dental consultant is also a "personal coach" who shold bring management wisdom based on "in the trenches" experience along with systems and protocols to that have been successfully implemented in other practices. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what systems work and don't across many dental practices.
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New Patient Experience and Patient Education
Daily and Weekly Checklists
General Policy Manual
What gets monitored, gets managed. It is as simple as that. The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue for re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee.
What most practice owners are lack in knowledge is not how to book an appointment, but rather how to be an effective leader. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply.
Questions To Ask
Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance?There are advantages to both.
If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
Top Dental Practice Mangement Consultant
My name is Kevin Tighe. I am Cambridge's CEO and Senior Consultant. Before joining the Cambridge team I was in charge of setting up workshops for large nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada. During that time, I was fortunate to receive mentoring from several world-class business consultants, including a dental practice management guru, which led to a position at Cambridge as their seminar organizer. In time, I began crisscrossing the country delivering seminars myself for the better part of a decade. Subsequently, I moved up to senior consultant and eventually owner. Contributing writer to Dental Economics/DIQ, JADA, AGD Impact and Dental Town Magazine.
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