Article Date: 3/1/2011

Eight Tips Will Help You Run Effective Staff Meetings
o.d. to o.d.

Eight Tips Will Help You Run Effective Staff Meetings

If you've never held staff meetings, or you've tried them and quit, it's time to take steps to make them more productive.

By Walter D. West, O.D., F.A.A.O. Chief Optometric Editor

When I started practice, I knew very little, if anything, about business management. But then that's true of most optometrists.

One of the things I clearly didn't do well was run meetings. Looking back, it pains me to think of the literally hundreds of hours lost due to inefficient meetings with my staff.

Fortunately, through the years, I read and tried pretty much every technique possible for making meetings efficient and more effective, and I've boiled it down to these eight essential tips. Following these eight tips will enhance you and your staff's productivity.

1. Start on time. If just three people wait an average of five minutes per meeting for the fourth person to arrive, that adds up to hours of lost productivity through the period of a year. Not to mention, it's also extremely frustrating, and starting a meeting in a state of frustration kills creativity.
2. Have a written agenda. Ideally, circulate the agenda at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting so that you and all the participants are as prepared as possible.
3. Everyone must participate. In staff meetings you want to encourage everyone to participate. Consider all points of view, so you can make the best decisions. One way to get everyone involved is to have the members of your staff take turns running the staff meetings.
4. Stick to a schedule. The entire meeting and each agenda item must have a time limit. If an individual agenda item goes long, revisit it at the end of the meeting (if there's time), or schedule another meeting to continue the discussion.
5. Stay on topic. While it's okay to go off on an occasional tangent, you need to guide the discussion back on topic. The agenda and time limits will help with this.
6. Don't hold unnecessary meetings. If you have trouble creating the agenda (in that there's nothing important to discuss), it might mean that you shouldn't hold the meeting in the first place. A word of caution: Now, doctor, you aren't the only one who decides whether there's something important to discuss. Your staff needs to have input here as well.
7. End meetings with total clarity regarding the key action items that were identified and who will complete them. This is key. Coming up with great ideas during a meeting is meaningless unless those ideas are documented, assigned to individuals to act on, a completion date set and a follow-up report scheduled.
8. Improve. Every meeting, or at least every two to three meetings, ask for feedback from the doctors and staff regarding ways to improve the way your meetings are run.

More than imagined

These eight tips will make your meetings more productive, and you and your staff will accomplish much more than you ever imagined.

So, if you and your staff have never had staff meetings, or you used to have them and quit for whatever reason, start now or try again. And let the first meeting be a discussion on how my eight tips can make your meetings more meaningful and productive. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2011