How many hours do you spend working IN your business every week? 40? 50? More?
How many hours do you spend working ON your business every week? Many practice owners put fewer hours into working on their businesses—think marketing, building team morale, measuring success, etc.—than they put into working in their businesses, but it’s important not to neglect your practice. It’s your baby. Nurture it.
One way to nurture your business is to commit to having weekly team meetings.
Regular team meetings open the lines of communication at every level. Poor communication in a veterinary practice can lead to mistakes, missteps, delays, and wasted time. When teams don’t communicate openly at every level, they are not able to properly resolve conflict, and morale will be low. Teams who meet regularly feel informed and empowered, and those practices are more successful and profitable as a result.
To make your weekly team meetings productive, keep these four tips in mind:
#1: Be inclusive
Too often, practice leaders and managers have meetings without all the key stakeholders present. And by “key stakeholders,” I mean ALL staff members. As a result, the information being shared doesn’t get to all the people who need it most. Make meetings mandatory with everyone on your team and you will see an increase in teamwork and a decrease in departmental division.
The size and mix of service offering in your practice will dictate the type of weekly meetings you have with your team:
- For practices with fewer than 20 employees, I recommend having a 2- to 3-hour weekly meeting with the entire team. As part of that meeting, you can break out into departments for the last hour to address issues specific departmental issues.
- For practices with more than 20 employees, I recommend having a weekly meeting for specific groups or departments that include an entire team meeting as part of the rotation. For example, the first week of the month, the doctors meet with the management team. The next week, the client service representatives meet with the management team. The next week, the nurses and assistants meet with the management team. And, the last week of the month, the entire team meets together. This structure has some disadvantages. It’s important to focus on inclusivity. For example, at each all-team meeting, be sure to share notes from every departmental meeting so everyone is on the same page.
#2: Create ground rules and roles
I’ve heard many team members say meetings are a waste of time. This mentality is a result of poor planning and a failure to communicate expectations clearly so everyone understands how meetings should be conducted. For meetings to be fun, exciting, and productive, they require proper planning. Assign roles to various staff members, and rotate these roles between your team, so they are part of the process in making your meetings successful. The roles should include:
- Coordinator — Responsible for planning the meetings
- Facilitator — Leads the meeting and ensures everyone stays on schedule and on task
- Secretary — Documents the topics discussed and decisions made at the meeting
- Trainer — Educates the team on a chosen topic that week
It’s also important to create ground rules with your team regarding your expectations of them when attending team meetings. Some of those rules should include:
- Meetings start on time
- Be an active listener
- No idea is a bad idea
- Everyone participates in the conversation
#3: Have a structured agenda
One of the reasons many meetings feel like a waste of time is because the agenda is too loose or undefined. Develop standard agenda items that are covered at every meeting, such as housekeeping, client experience feedback, continuing education and training, and department break-outs. By having a consistent structure at every meeting, your team will get comfortable and look forward to participating in a meeting where they are learning and growing as a team.
#4: Create accountability measures
Team members often complain that meetings are unproductive and that there is a lack of follow through on the topics discussed. To ensure your meetings are a vehicle to implementing positive change:
- Document pertinent discussions and decisions made during the meeting. It is the secretary’s role to take notes and distribute minutes to the entire team each week.
- Create a project task list to keep track of assigned projects, tasks, and research given to key team members with completion deadlines.
By implementing weekly team meetings, your staff will not only benefit from the investment you make in them, but they will also be energized and motivated to be more productive so your practice will prosper.
Make the commitment to spend time working ON your practice, rather than just IN it, and you will see incredible results. Learn more about setting standards of communication and improving your practice’s culture and your team’s performance by becoming a Relationship Centered Practice® here.
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