01st February 2017

Staff meetings are so good for team morale and practice welfare

As we begin a new year this is an ideal time to have a motivational dental practice meeting. It is an opportunity to set the mood and ambitions for the year ahead. Where appropriate it also gives a chance to thank the team for all their efforts in the previous year and to set the bar higher for the coming year.

Practice team meetings allow staff members to focus on issues that are not easily conveyed in the everyday running of a busy dental surgery. It is unwise to simply pass on messages or tasks during a busy day as this often results in miscommunication or mistakes.

The timing of meetings is also something to consider carefully. It is important to have protected time for the meetings avoiding lunch hours or after work as encroaching on staff personal time will not be well received. Many dental practices have monthly meetings however it may suit some to have quarterly or other more appropriate time intervals. Remember to change the day the meetings are held to allow part-time staff to attend. The importance is to have regular meetings to update the team on any changes, incidents, introduce new members, and allow the team to raise any issues or concerns and to look forward.

Team meetings are an ideal opportunity to introduce training and one example is to discuss particular policies for CQC compliance as this will help reinforce and understand practice procedures. As with all meetings, it is important to have an agenda and especially to publish or make all aware so people can prepare accordingly. It is even more important to stick to the agenda and monitor the clock for time management. It may be that certain items may need additional meetings or training at a later date. Have a register so attendance can be recorded and rotate the person who chairs the meeting. If the practice owner is always the chair often very junior members may find it difficult to speak up and they may feel left out. Sometimes it is good to sit back as the practice owner and look at the dynamics of the group! Similarly, it is important to appoint a scribe for the meeting who can minute discussions accurately and succinctly. The scribe may wish to use a bullet point system and initials to attribute particular contributions. Where responsibilities have been allocated as a result of discussions then action points need to be highlighted and agreed with timeframes. These minutes should be made available to all as soon after the meeting as practical. CQC inspectors often ask to see minutes of practice meetings so ensure they are stored appropriately and readily available.

The style of the meeting is very important and whilst you want to avoid being regimental it is vital that all members can be heard and have time to voice opinion no matter how trivial it may appear at the time, as this is about team building and involvement. Ensure that the seating plan allows easy eye contact and avoids people being left out of the group. Control interruptions and limit those domineering staff members to allow others to contribute. It may be appropriate to ask quieter, more shy members their opinion and then allow them to answer without interrupting and also then thank them for their contribution even if at that moment it seemed trivial again remembering that this is about team building and growing your staff to the next level. Body language and tone are equally to be considered and it is wise not to lecture to staff as they will be less likely to engage. Whilst certain matters can be said generally and however unappetising individual criticism must be avoided at all times.  Keep the mood light and use humour as an ice breaker but remembering to follow and complete the agenda. Use flip charts, videos or power point presentations as this will aid communication and engagement of the entire team.

When concluding the meeting ensure all members are asked individually if they have anything to add and allow time for this. Finally, summarise the overall points raised and any particular action points and timeframes. Remember to thank and congratulate the team for being the best you have ever had!

In addition to the more formal and longer meetings, many practices find it of great benefit to have ‘quick-fire’ sessions at the beginning of each day or week where the week or day ahead can be summarised in terms of challenges and expectations. People often term them huddle meetings and it is an ideal chance to remind each other about different matters and expectations and also to highlight any particular needs of certain patients. These meetings are often carried out standing up and are good motivational starts to the week or day encouraging team building.

Good luck with all your meetings this year and hope they result in a happy team.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: Dentists

Raj Majithia

Dental Specialist M.Clin.Dent, FFGDP, BDS, LDSRCS, MJDF (UK), DPDS

Raj is in General Dental Practice in London. His other current posts are Associate Dean of Postgraduate Dentistry at Health Education England – London where he is responsible for remediation of dentists in difficulty, quality assurance of Dental Foundation training practices and assessment of Dental Foundation equivalence for overseas qualified dentists. Raj has been the Crisis Management in Medical Emergencies Tutor and Postgraduate Dental Tutor at Northwick Park Dental Education Centre and West Middlesex Hospital.

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