6 steps to more effective staff meetings

May 16, 2015

In her latest blog, Joy Gibb, ABOC, offers a 6-step plan to rid your office of boring, pointless meetings.

Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Joy Gibb, ABOC, an optician at Daynes Eye and Lasik in Bountiful, UT. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of  Ophthalmology Times or UBM Advanstar.

 

Are you looking for an inexpensive and effective way to build team morale and improve the overall experience of your patient?  Look no further than consistent staff meetings!

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In a 2013 survey of eye-care professionals by the Better Vision Institute, respondents ranked staff meetings as the number one way to increase employee morale.  Team members cited the importance of good communication, having a clear understanding of how the business is doing, and what is expected of them as things they desired from practice owners.  The key to making staff meetings successful and enjoyable is in the preparation.

Step 1: Purpose

Decide first what the purpose is for your meeting.  Staff meetings can be great times to review policy and procedure, train and educate about product, set and review goals, and plan for upcoming events or potential scheduling conflicts. 

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You will also want to be thoughtful about what actions you want your staff to take after the meeting and if they will be motivated to perform better as a result of the meeting.  Using the answers to these questions will help you in the planning and coordinating of your meeting.

Step 2: Coordinating

Choose a day of the week and regularly hold your staff meetings during that time.  I often encourage staff meetings to occur in the morning prior to the start of seeing patients.  Consider delaying when you schedule your first patients by an hour just one day a week.  Your staff will appreciate not having to come in early, stay late, or give up a lunch hour, and the revenue you may lose in chair time will be made up for in better skills and communication in the staff, which can translate to better customer service for your patients. 

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Step 3: Timeliness

Make sure you start and end on time and that the meeting is of value to the attendees.  You may wish to have a full-staff meeting one week, by departments another week.  You may wish to designate certain weeks for certain agendas, such as education or staff, team goal setting, improving the customer experience, etc. 

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Tailor it to the needs of your practice and team and schedule meetings as often as you need them.

Step 4: Prepare

Prepare an agenda prior to the meeting and make sure it is distributed to all staff members prior to the start of the meeting.  This will give everyone an opportunity to prepare their thoughts and allow the participants to be better prepared.

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Prioritize the agenda based on things that absolutely have to be accomplished and addressed at the beginning so that you can give them adequate time for discussion.  If you can’t finish all agenda items within the time allotted, make sure you carry them over to the next meeting for discussion.

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Step 5: Acknowledge

As team members share their insights during the meeting, acknowledge and validate their concerns and suggestions.  You may wish to have a white board to write ideas or assignments so everyone can see. 

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Sometimes you will have a meeting participant who asks questions or voices opinions that you may not find relevant.  Not only is it important to try and understand what motivates the questions or comments, but it is equally important to make people accountable for their comments so they don’t take over the meeting.  You may wish to respond by saying, “That is interesting, but can you help me understand how it relates to the agenda item we’re discussing?” 

Step 6: Action plan

Should your agenda include an item that requires assignments to be made, make sure you leave the meeting with an action plan.  If there isn’t an action plan in place, you will have just had a lovely discussion and set a tone that nothing really happens to change things or create things for your practice.

Be sure to clarify who is responsible for what, when they need to report on their assignments, and whom they should report to. 

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Staff meetings are a wonderful way to communicate how well your practice is doing or recognizing areas for improvement.  They are also a great opportunity to provide education and training, which can translate into a better patient experience. 

 

Remember that preparation is the key to a successful staff meeting that will help team members recognize the value and importance of that weekly time together.