2.11.11 Issue #466 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

5 Steps to More Effective Meetings
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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For too many dentists, staff meetings are viewed as a hopeless waste of time in which production is sacrificed. They are intended to be effective, information sharing, problem-solving opportunities. But any number of things can turn a potentially successful meeting into a disaster, including lack of an effective agenda, lack of ground rules, clashing personalities, turf wars and more. 

Take five steps and ensure that your next meeting is the first of many great meetings to come.

Number 1 - Establish Ground Rules
Too often meetings get derailed because there is no code of conduct and they degenerate into a free for all. You have the dominators who absolutely must express their opinion. The silent sulkers cannot get a word in, so they simply shut down until after the meeting when they share their true thoughts. Then there are the “side conversationists” who are whispering away and “multi-taskers” who are checking email or cruising Facebook on their smartphones, and the list goes on. With the team, establish the ground rules for your meetings.

For example:

  • Meetings start and end at the designated time
  • Agenda items are addressed one item at a time
  • Everyone comes to the meeting prepared and arrives on time
  • Opinions and viewpoints are expressed politely and by all
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Everyone listens with respect
  • Cell phones and laptops are turned off
  • Relevant information is shared freely
  • Questions are welcomed to better understand issues and points of view
  • When necessary, reasoning behind opinions is explained
  • Disagreements and differing opinions are welcomed as an opportunity to learn more about an issue and ultimately make a more informed decision
  • Meeting notes are to be sent within one week of the meeting

Post these where everyone can see them at every meeting. In addition, ask a member of the team to read them aloud at the start of every meeting, at least early on. Don’t let people slide - gently remind offenders of the rules from day one.

Number 2 - Keep the Group Focused
Share the agenda a minimum of two days in advance of the meeting to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to adequately prepare. Arrange the agenda so that the most important items are addressed at the top of the meeting. Assign a time limit to discuss each item. If an issue requires additional time, ask the group if they feel the matter deserves more discussion or if it should be tabled until the next meeting.

Number 3 - Control the Meeting
Keep the dominators from taking over the meeting and shutting everyone else down by frequently using round robin exercises. Start with the person to the right or left of the dominator, go around the room and ask each person to share their input.

Number 4 - Facilitate
 Assign a facilitator (not the doctor) for each staff meeting. This person keeps the meeting on track and calls on people in the order in which they raise their hands. The facilitator politely enforces the ground rules. They monitor the clock to ensure that issues are given the time necessary. And as matters come up that are important but outside the scope of the discussion, they track them in the “parking lot.”

Let me explain. During discussion, it’s natural for other important issues and good ideas to emerge that require further exploration. These items are posted on the wall in the “parking lot.” This helps everyone to stay focused on the discussion at hand, not just their pet issue. They know that the matter will be taken up later in the meeting before the group adjourns or it will be included on the agenda for the next meeting.

Number 5 - Identify and State Your Action Items
At the close of every meeting, confirm the list of actions, who is responsible for what tasks and if they need assistance from anyone else to complete that task. Reiterate deadlines that have been established.

With a little planning and preparation, meetings can be highly effective information sharing and problem solving sessions. It’s a matter of practice and commitment.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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