Powerful team meetings

An effective team meeting is the catalyst that can take a practice to the next level.

by Lois Banta

An effective team meeting is the catalyst that can take a practice to the next level. I have heard many times through the years when consulting in practices that team meetings are ineffective gripe sessions, and frankly, they are unproductive. Well, this is the main reason team meetings need to happen.

In this article I outline a successful strategy for a great, positive, and productive team meeting every time.

1. Decide, with purpose, to hold the team meeting every week. Dedicate a specific day and time each week and stick to it. Remember, it takes 21 days to change a habit.

2. Provide lunch and pay the team. Block off 90 minutes for the team meeting, with 30 minutes dedicated to lunch and one hour for the meeting. Plan your production goals that day the same as any other day.

3. Develop a written action plan to ensure optimal success. This would be a four-column sheet with these focuses:

a. Column 1 -- List the item that needs action.
b. Column 2 -- List the person who will oversee the project.
c. Column 3 -- Write down a target date to complete the project.
d. Column 4 -- The celebration column. Write down the date the project was completed or implemented. This is the most important column.

4. Have a theme for each week. I typically recommend the following in no particular order, except for the monthly numbers review. That one needs to be at least week two to gather the statistics for the month.

a. Week 1 -- Cross train for efficiency. In this meeting, a team member or department will train the other team members how to perform a function in the office. In fact, the new patient experience will touch on all areas in the practice and is the best way to efficiently cross train an entire team. This allows the team to be more "volunteer"-minded, and be able to help other team members on a busy day.
b. Week 2 -- Discuss the previous month's numbers. It is important for a team to actively participate in growing a practice by having a clear understanding of the monthly statistics. Reviewing the monthly numbers allows the practice to identify trends, challenges, and celebrations that happen on a month-to-month basis. In reviewing the numbers each month, it is important to help the team have a keen awareness of overhead.
c. Week 3 -- Seek out good, quality continuing education for specific departments. Also, choose one meeting the entire team can attend together. This strengthens the bond of the dental team and creates a common ground for learning. Other ideas for CE are listening to a CD or watching a DVD. Take notes and create talking points for the team meeting. Additionally, you can invite a company or specialty office into the practice for a lunch-and-learn.
d. Week 4 -- Practice what you speak. Take a two-week period and write down or record as many patient questions as possible in each department. Then take these questions to the team meeting and strategize how to respond. Knowing how to respond and fine tune the correct response to hand off is crucial to offering patients the ultimate practice experience.
e. Week 5 -- Sometimes there will be a week 5, and it is a good time to celebrate as a team. Go to lunch, bring lunch in, or have a theme-oriented potluck. This is a time for fellowship and celebrating one another as a team, and is designed to keep positive energy flowing through the practice.

5. Set your goal for long-term success by inspecting what you expect in the success of your practice, and give yourselves permission to have good, dedicated professional fun.

Lois Banta of Banta Consulting, Inc., is owner of the Speaking Consulting Network. Banta Consulting specializes in all aspects of dental practice management, with over 37 years of dental experience. To contact Lois for a personal consultation or to invite her to speak, call 816-847-2055 or email lois@bantaconsulting.com. Visit her website at www.bantaconsulting.com.

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