One of the most effective and productive things that can happen in a dental practice is the result of a team meeting.
One of the most wasteful and damaging things that can happen in a dental practice is the result of a team meeting.
Advantages of having effective team meetings are numerous, especially in dental practices, where change can be made quickly, effectively, and efficiently. However, team meetings can also be times that team members dread, where nothing gets accomplished, and even team members leave with hurt feelings and lack of inclusion with the team.
After over 30 years of sometimes struggling with my own team meetings which I have held monthly (almost) without fail, here are some considerations to make the time you spend with your team as productive as possible. This is by no means an instruction about ALL of the elements of effective meeting, but instead HELPS YOU HAVE effective meetings by addressing the FEELING elements that are in the room – both with you and with your team members.
- State the objective for the meeting. What is the meeting going to be about? It’s best to share this with your team at least a day in advance, and then again as you assemble and start the meeting.
- Feeling check. Before starting with the team meeting agenda, share with your team what are you (personally) feeling as the meeting is about to start. Then, ask each person to share what they are feeling. It’s important to create a safe environment for people to share, and ground rules must be laid before the sharing starts that address that no comments, suggestions, fixes, or anything else is made about the way any person is feeling. People feel the way they do for lots of reasons, and it’s nobody’s business to negate or disagree with that.
- Break down barriers: Talk about why you feel the way you do. Ask each person to also share why they are feeling that way, too. Again, it is a time for each person to be heard without comments, disagreements, suggestions, and more.
- Complete an agreement: What are possible solutions to both honoring these feelings and having them used for productive moments in the meeting? Talk this over with the team. Notice that nothing is done to try to change the way anyone feels; it is a time to get the feelings out, let each person be heard, and get a glimpse into why they are feeling the way they do.
- Move forward. Enjoy the new emotional space and now proceed with the meeting agenda.
What you’ll find is a new sense of team cohesiveness, a greater understanding of each other, and an appreciation for the uniqueness of each person.
Remember, not everyone will feel comfortable to talk about their feelings to the team. If so, avoid pressing them to do so. Encourage them, however; make your office a safe place. Keep in mind you are not a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, so stay away from doing anything about a person’s feelings. If someone has some serious concerns about what they are feeling or are not willing to share at all, you may wish to check in with them in private. Sometimes referrals to mental health specialists may be in order, but only if it is interfering with their work performance. Creating a safe and healthy workplace will do wonders not just for your team meetings, but your entire practice. If you need help in creating that safe environment in your practice, get help with a coach, psychologist, or maybe even a therapist. It’ll be well worth your time, money, and effort.