Ending Meeting Madness
10 tips for great staff meetings.
BY ANNETTE JUNEAU
The primary reason for holding a staff meeting is to communicate your practice goals to your employees so that everyone's going in the same direction. Here are some ideas that will help you get the most out of your meetings.
The top 10
Experts have compiled at least 50 tips for holding great staff meetings, but here are the top 10:
1 Advanced planning. Set a day and time each month for a meeting so everyone can plan to attend in advance. Make a note of this in the employee handbook and review it when hiring anyone.
Post a sign for patients that reads, "So that we can provide the highest quality of service to our patients, our office is closed the first Friday of the month from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. for staff training. If you have an emergency please call or page . . . ." Patient surveys reveal that they're impressed rather than inconvenienced.
ILLUSTRATION BY ALAN KING
2 Give a heads up. Post an agenda before the meeting so staff can add items. This lets them be heard and keeps surprise topics to a minimum. Stick to the agenda. If an "off-the-wall" topic comes up, table it for further discussion.
3 What do you talk about? Agenda items can include recognition of staff birthdays that month; employment anniversaries; recognition for employees who referred new patients; technical, sales, insurance and patient satisfaction training; challenges and their possible solutions.
4 Don't point your finger in public. Never use a staff meeting to address one employee's performance problem or mistake. Manage these issues one-on-one because the group resents being included in something they didn't do.
5 Starting on time. If lateness is a problem, reward those who are on time -- $1 works great.
6 Appoint an advisor. Ask the employee whose work is excellent but who can be negative about change for her input before the meeting. It gives her a chance to vent and makes her feel special.
7 Pass the mike. With your direction and support, let a different staff member lead the meeting each month. It enhances development of their people skills and allows them see how tough it can be when you're in charge. It also promotes teamwork. This works well for those who "cross talk" during the meeting too, by keeping them busy and focused.
8 Soften the blow. When you deliver unpopular policy, procedures or negative news, assure the team that it's not personal, it's just a business decision.
Prepare a response. A great response to a ridiculous suggestion or comment is, "Thanks, that's interesting." Then move on.
10 Listen attentively. Your attention is a gift. When you give it, people believe you care. Maintain eye contact, showing the speaker that you understand even if you don't agree. Never interrupt.
The bottom line
According to the Juneau Practice Management Institute Best Practices Benchmark (with more than 4,000 practices in the database), practices that have regularly scheduled staff meetings enjoy 6.5% higher profits than those who don't.
When staff meetings are managed well, they contribute greatly to growth of patient base, patient retention, operations efficiency, reduction in staff turnover and patient well-being -- in short, enhanced practice profitability.
ANNETTE JUNEAU IS OWNER OF THE JUNEAU PRACTICE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE IN LAKE WORTH, FLA. SHE'S A NATIONALLY KNOWN CONSULTANT, LECTURER AND AUTHOR WITH EXPERIENCE IN MORE THAN 4,000 EYECARE PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES.
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2002