Over the first ten years of private practice I was against morning huddles (staff meetings). Several staff members and dental colleagues tried to convince me they were beneficial but I resisted.
My push back was from three years of, what I considered worthless, staff meetings while in the Navy. During these meetings it was common for me to think quietly in my mind “if I ever get my own practice I will never do these things…as matter of fact I will avoid all meetings if possible.”
As a result, my first decade in practice only consisted of staff meetings addressing urgent practice issues.
In fact, when I called a staff meeting my staff looked at me with a sense of terror.
I used staff meetings as a disciplinary tool to hammer away on my staff about how bad things were going and what I demanded they do to improve.
Remember the old saying “the beatings will continue until morale improves.” That was me.
As things continued to get busier and I sensed a total loss of control I contacted a consultant (Levin Group) to see what was wrong with my staff.
Come to find out my staff was fine. They were just reacting to the day to day ups and downs without a sense of direction.
One of the first things Mike (my personal consultant) asked me to do was implement “morning huddles.”
I quickly explained my rational for not doing them. In short, in my mind they were a waste of time.
Mike was persistent and continually worked to persuade me into giving them a try.
He wanted me to try them for 6 months and see if we saw improvement in our practice stress level.
Grudgingly, I agreed.
Now I look back and think of how stubborn and unreasonable I was to avoid these daily planning sessions.
Here are 5 reasons we started and continue to include morning huddles in our daily routine.
Included is my quick acronym on how to E.R.A.S.E. some stress in your practice.
One of the most recent items added to our morning huddle is to end our meeting with a positive comment.
It might be a positive note or a review from a patient.
At times we end with a famous quote or humorous story/joke.
We have found that this ends the meeting on an upbeat tone and provides a positive start for the day.
I also use this time to recognize specific staff members that have went above and beyond to improve a patient’s experience, congratulate them on a milestone in their career or life, or thank them for an exceptional job.
Patient review is one of the most important reasons to make this a part of your daily practice.
Every morning we go through every patient our surgery schedule and cover the planned surgery, any allergies, special circumstances, financial issues, or special needs.
It gives us a quick glance at the day and lets us mentally prepare for any unusual circumstances we plan to encounter.
Assignment of special duties is also an important component of our morning huddle.
I routinely delegate special items to my team members.
It is a time to make assignments, provide direction, set deadlines, and ensure accountability for their timely completion.
One of the questions I ask every morning is “are there any issues or concerns that you are aware of ?”
It is similar to the “any saved rounds” question that is commonplace to end Navy staff meetings.
The ability to identify and address any concerns allows the team to give input and help with solutions.
It also gets the team on the same page about an issue and how it will be handled.
Finally, we use our morning huddle to identify emergency slots in our existing schedule.
We typically identify one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
If we get more than two emergency patients, the front office is tasked with asking the clinical staff the best time to schedule an additional emergency.
This approach reduces interruptions in clinical care since the front office staff is not having to continually ask us about emergency appointments.
It also empowers the front office staff to make decisions on emergency scheduling without having to ask clinical staff which is a much more efficient system.
If you are not using morning huddles to start your practice day, set aside time to do so.
Set an agenda and stick to it.
These meetings should be 10-15 minutes at most.
Start by using the E.R.A.S.E. stress concept to get going.
Adjust your meeting to meet your needs.
Now get started taking control of your practice and do not wait a decade to figure it out.
Do you do morning huddles? Please share your thoughts on how they have improved your practice.