dental coaching meetings

Meetings About Meetings and the Secret WhatsApp Group You’re not Meant to Know About

What is it about some meetings that make them so boring and yet in other dental practices, meetings do get stuff done?

Let’s face it, you’ve either hosted or endured a meeting that just didn’t seem that productive, however well intended it may have been. The irony of course is that in most businesses (and having spent 10 years working solely with dental practices, I can tell you that dentistry is no exception) when asked, teams will say that ‘communication’ is a problem, in one way or another. And yet, when given the chance to talk, you instinctively know that not all opinions have been heard and no doubt the secret WhatsApp group (that you are not meant to know about) is pinging away afterwards with the usual comments about “nothing ever changing around here” and “nobody ever listens to us!”…aghhhhh….I feel your pain!

When I first had a meeting with a dental team about ‘having meetings’, I was anxious. I was concerned that it would not be productive and yet, it has turned out to be quite the opposite. Now before you dive in and do the same tomorrow, let’s be realistic, my advice on it’s own is not going to change everything but it will change something, and if you are struggling to engage your team when you do get them together, this is a great place to start and to remove the blockages in your dental business that you cannot resolve with any number of presentations, away days, Christmas parties or pay increases.

What are the symptoms that should be warning you, and that you need to do something about?

  • Mistakes are hidden and rarely does anybody say sorry.
  • The secret WhatsApp group is where issues are really discussed but to you it’s existence is only hear say.
  • Nobody really knows or cares what others are working on.
  • “I’m just going to come in get my work done and go home, from now on!”
  • “I’m not paid enough to do any more than what I do already!”

 

From my own experience, I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you kick off a ‘meeting about meetings’ with something like this:

“We need to have better, more productive, efficient and concise meetings, where all opinions count, actions are agreed and stuff get’s done. It’s my job to make that happen, so let’s have a meeting about how we are going to have all future meetings.”

What needs to be concluded at a meeting about meetings? Spell out key headlines that need to be discussed and agreed. As the leader do stress though that whether we get consensus or not, we all have to commit to the structure of all future meetings that we are going to explore today. Committing to this is as important as any clinical process or procedure.

  • Content, frequency and timing. Who takes notes, who leads? When and how are ‘carried forward’ and ‘brought forward’ matters discussed?
  • What is acceptable behaviour during a meeting, is eating allowed and what happens to mobile phones? When does healthy debate become personal and who will intervene?
  • What happens if somebody cannot attend? Does the meeting still happen and how will information be shared?
  • How important is time keeping?
  • What is an acceptable timescale for somebody to report back to the team?
  • What practice results are going to be shared with the team? You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much the team do want to know about how their dental practice is doing. It can drive improvements in standards.

 

Those are the bare bones and in my experience, local rules also need to evolve from your ‘meeting about meetings.’ Most importably, do take the 45 minutes or so required to do this and make sure that the ‘rules’ are shared, revisited and everybody is accountable to them.

Rarely do dental practices develop and grow if the background chatter is limited to that secret WhatsApp group. As a leader, it’s part of your job to push online conversations into open discussion.

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