Energy for your tired veterinary team meetings
Boring, robotic and unproductive. Is this a game of word association or a description of your team meetings? If you chose the latter, read on for some easy ways to help put the spark back into your team meetings—and into your practice.
1 Spotlight your staff
> Celebrate successes. Recognize your team's accomplishments. Did one of your veterinary technicians go above and beyond, helping a fellow team member with a tough task? Did one of your receptionists provide excellent customer service to a disgruntled client? Shine the spotlight on someone who's doing a great job. Not only will they be encouraged to keep it up, but other team members will follow suit.
> Incorporate CE. This will make your team—and ultimately your practice—stronger and more successful. Cheryl Arnold, CVPM, practice administrator at Veterinary Medical Center in Easton, Md., invites different speakers to the practice each month. She had an OSHA representative come in recently to educate her staff about a particular safety topic and how it comes into play at their practice. (For complete meeting guides on a variety of topics, such as team conflict, visit http://teammeetinginabox.com/)
2 Provide structure
> Stay on schedule. Weekly meetings are part of the regular workweek and should start—and end—on time. Schedule them in the morning or over lunch, and keep them to an hour in length.
> Location is key. An environment free from interruption works best, so close the practice for the meeting.
> Follow an agenda. If scheduled over lunch, eat first, then have the meeting. This allows staff to interact and contribute more to the discussion.
Make sure your agenda includes a review of decisions made the week before and any problems that arose implementing them. It's also good to get a status report from the persons in charge of each action item from the last meeting.
Give staff the opportunity to submit new topics for discussion as well, and distribute the agenda ahead of time. Develop an agenda for next time at the conclusion of the meeting.
> Set goals. We know you need to make decisions or resolve issues from time to time, but keep in mind that bringing your staff together as one cohesive team is also an important goal of any meeting. Morris once invited her retirement plan administrator to a staff meeting to educate her team about paycheck withholdings and teach them how to keep more money in their pockets. This sends the message that they're just as important as the practice.
> Keep track of players. Attendance is required and your staff is paid to be there. If someone can't attend, ask the managers and team leaders to provide a recap of the decisions reached during the meeting to the person who was absent.
Designate a meeting facilitator to lead the meeting by starting on time, introducing each topic and ensuring you stay on track and end on time. Assign a note-taker to write down all key points, project assignments and deadlines from each topic, and distribute copies of the notes to everyone after each meeting. Rotate note-taking responsibility among your staff every two to three months.