Are staff meetings even necessary?
I recently attended a CE event and was talking to a fellow practice owner about meetings. It was his view that closing the practice and paying staff members to sit in a circle for an hour was a waste of time, money, and resources . . . and don’t get this guy started on what not seeing appointments for an hour does to your bottom line.
While we have all attended meetings that have crushed our very souls, I promise that great meetings will help create an engaged workplace with a culture you can be proud of.
Meetings that build people up
Meetings should be about teamwork. If you are standing in front of your team rattling off a laundry list of things they have done wrong, please stop. Meetings should be used for bringing people together, building them up, checking in, and engaging with them. People should leave meetings feeling good, not beat up or bored.
So, how do we get there?
Share the when, where, and what ahead of time
Start by letting everyone know when and how your meetings will take place. At my hospital, we run weekly, hour-long, in-person staff meetings. If this doesn’t work for you, there are many virtual options out there.
Share the “when, where, and what” details of your meeting at least a week ahead of time. By sharing your purpose, you can get staff to engage and invest in the topic before the meeting even starts. Try and make the announcement fun if you can.
It can be as simple as sending out a time clock message that says: “Our amazing staff is going to work together to figure out how to decrease lobby wait times! Imagine how excited clients will be! We are meeting on Zoom at 4:00 pm next Wednesday and yes, you can wear sweatpants.”
Good agendas include goals
Meeting agendas should always include business objectives and goals, action items, and team achievements. I start every meeting off with announcing team anniversaries, kick-ass client reviews, and any fun events we have coming up.
From there we transition to one of four meeting topics: Department Meetings, Pain Points and Goals, Learning, and Team Building.
- Department Meetings: The doctors, technicians, and client service representatives each have their own meeting where they discuss their own separate topics. It’s important that each of these meetings has their own agenda and organizer.
- Pain Points: We gather the entire team together to discuss major goals of the hospital and specific pain points we are experiencing. We take staff feedback very seriously. It’s important to focus on solutions and not problems. Action items are assigned to specific team members and managers make notes to follow up. If a new procedure is put into place, it is formally added to our policy manual and shared with the team after being finalized.
- Learning: This might be a review of how we handle emergencies that walk through the door, safety topics, new drugs or services we offer, animal behavior, medical topics, or literally anything out of our policies and procedures manual.
- Team Building: We might break out into groups and solve a puzzle together, play a game (vet med-related or not), decorate for a holiday, learn about each other’s love languages, share a meal, or take a personality quiz.
It’s all in the attitude
Remember above all else, if your team doesn’t like the meeting it doesn’t matter what you’re saying to them. Communication is about more than just information, and feelings matter more than content.
- Stay positive. No one wants to spend time wallowing in negativity. Lift people up.
- Stay relevant. Topics need to matter to the attendees and their input needs to matter to you.
- Stay humble. Ask for feedback: How can we improve these meetings in the future?
- Stay cooperative. Don’t lecture. Staff meetings should have two-way communication.
- Stay on time. Start on time, keep meetings as short as possible. Don’t create busy work.
When you allow your team to be heard and feel safe, they will work incredibly hard to reach your shared goals!
Jenn Galvin owns and manages Advanced Animal Care, a companion animal hospital located in Arizona. She has been in the veterinary industry for over 25 years, and she is a true nerd at heart, with a passion for staff development, inventory, and veterinary financials.
Photo courtesy of Jenn Galvin
Cover photo credit: © Rattankun Thongbun E+ via Getty Images Plus