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Of course, if you are not currently holding regular staff meetings, this week’s tip is to start doing so! Even small practices must have good communication to prosper. There is a great deal to talk about with your staff.
Here are a few pearls from staff meetings in my practice.
When to hold it
We hold full staff meetings on Monday mornings during normal business hours. We do not book any appointments from 9 to 10am for this purpose. Deciding on the best time for meetings is important. I don’t really want to ask employees to come in extra early or stay extra late on a regular basis because I know they have families and this is inconvenient. And, I want them in a good frame of mind for the meeting.
We hold our staff meetings in two shifts, which allows us to have the doors open and answer telephones during normal business hours. The first staff meeting is with the business office staff only, and the technicians man the front desk and handle walk-in adjustments. All doctors and the office manager attend all meetings.
The second shift is with the ophthalmic techs, lab techs and opticians. The business office handles the front desk, and one rotating technician stays out of the meeting to handle walk-in adjustments.
Our office manager takes minutes at all meetings. These are posted and saved and any staff member who was absent (and someone always is) must read and initial the minutes.
What to talk about
I keep a small notebook with me and I write down notes all week long of things to talk about at the staff meetings. The doctors and office manager add to this list. This may include tasks we could perform better or problems we’ve had. It also includes praise for jobs well done.
I never single out or embarrass anyone at a meeting. Discipline or criticism is done privately. I keep the meeting positive and I invite interaction. Usually, the whole group benefits from learning the correct way to handle something.
Meetings can certainly be used for training. If there is not much on the agenda, I’ll bring up an ocular or optical topic and explain it.
I always invite staffers to bring up anything on their minds. Many will bring their key announcements or problems to the meeting.
If we ever have a lull, my favorite question at staff meetings is… “Tell me something you have observed in your area that patients did not like”. I tell staff that is my job -- to hear about the problems. They will bring up situations that I’m sometimes not even sure how to handle, without more thought. If I’m not sure – I know they aren’t sure! Staff members see all kinds of things, but we often forget to ask them, and they often become protective and think the doctor is too busy to worry about that stuff.
The successful management of a practice requires an attitude of continually trying to improve operations and services. That is what staff meetings are all about.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.