Monday, 4 February 2019

PRACTICAL practice meetings

I have been putting the finishing touches on February’s module of Transform your Practice in 10 days Planning time to succeed which will be held on February 15th

Not having enough time is a very common problem for all members of the dental team especially principals and practice managers, who often feel overwhelmed, as if they are chasing their tail and not doing their tasks as well as they could be or should be. They are often tired and burnt out so leisure time and valuable time with family and friends is often cancelled or not as fabulous as it could be.

Does this ring true for you and feel familiar?

One of the many things we will be discussing at next Friday’s workshop, will be practice meetings. These are something that almost everyone agrees they should be doing more of and yet they are one of the first casualties when a practice is short for time because there is a crisis or pressing distraction.

In a previous blog I have discussed how we use meeting STREAMS as a way of ensuring that all items that should be discussed are.

Today I would like to share with you another tip from module 2.

All meetings should be PRACTICAL. What do we mean by this?

       Planned, structured, relevant. Your meetings should have a clear purpose and objectives. Using STREAMS with give you a structure. Your time is precious and there is not enough available to waste with chit chat. What solutions or developments need to be discussed and decisions made? Make sure you have a plan.
       Respectful. I so often hear of team meetings that have deteriorated into slanging matches and character assignations when colleagues disagree. This is always counter -productive. Ensure that you respect others and treat them as you would wish to be treated yourself and be mindful of speaking about problems as behaviours and not identities. “Hate the sin and love the sinner”. Interrupt it and stop it in its tracks if you see this happening.
       Accountability and time scales. In dental practices it is a common situation that timelines drift and when a someone has volunteered to complete a task it does not happen. This will be prevented if during each meeting criteria for success including timelines are set and reviewed.
       Contents recorded. It is important to record minutes for meetings, not least because CQC may ask to see them. My top tip is, write them as you go along in a hardbound note book so pages cannot be removed. Record, dates, attendees, discussions, decisions, accountabilities and time scales. We have found that typing them up afterwards is an inefficient use of precious time.
       Team involved and committed to discussions. If your team are going to be engaged in the development of your practice, they need to feel engaged with the process and feel that ideas are their own. Then and only then will you get the engagement you want. Do you need to develop your skills as a collaborative leader rather than a to-do list dictator. Yes, collaboration and discussion takes longer than reading a to-do list however the time taken is recouped in action being taken and team cohesion. Don’t be tempted to take short cuts, telling your team what to do will not get the results you want it will only result in lack of respect, resentment and a high turnover of staff. Develop ways that you build confidence and encourage full participation.
       Inspires progress and engagement. Gandhi invited us to “Be the change you want to see.” What do you want for your practice and from your team, how do you become a living example of what you desire? The culture of any organisation is always determined by those in charge. Your team will look at how you behave rather than listen to what you ask for. Make sure that you are consistent. If you have a problem with staff being late, ask yourself “What am I demonstrating that I expect by my own time keeping?”
       Consideration of learning styles. We know that people have different styles for learning and processing information, these include using pictures, sounds and actions. Some people are reflective learners and need time to consider the information. For you to bring the best out of your team so that they can support you in your practice, organise your meetings so that they are stimulating to visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and reflective learners.
       All about solutions. As dentists we are quick to find failings and where things are not working as they should be, after all that is what our patients want from us when we examine their teeth. Staff meetings should not be about fault and blame, focus on solutions.
Notice how what changes when you use solution-based questions
Rather than asking
·      What is the problem?
·      How long have we had this problem?
·      Whose fault is it?
·      Who is to blame?
·      Why hasn’t this problem been solved yet?

·      What do we want?
·      How will we know when we have got our outcome?
·      What else will improve when we achieve this?
·      What resources do we already have that will help us be successful?
·      What is something similar that we have already succeeding in doing?
·      What is our next step?

       Listening and understanding. Stephen Covey asks us to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Use your practice meetings to listen and understand what is happening from everyone else’s perspective. Check in repeat back using THEIR words to ensure that you understand. The American Indians use a talking stick and you may be familiar with the idea that only the person with the stick can speak. The crucial part that the west has sanitised out of this ritual is that when the person with the stick has finished speaking, it is handed on and that person has to repeat back to the first speaker what they have understood. The stick is passed back and forth and around the pow wow until everyone has understood. What could be done in your practice to enhance listening and understanding? When there is greater listening and understanding what will be the benefits?

I hope that you can now make your meetings more PRACTICAL and that you have a taste of some of the gems of information that we share with practice owners, practice mangers at team members who attend Transform your Practice in 10 Days.

If you are always stressed and short of time and you would like to find out how you can be more in control, get things done and have time for yourself, join us.

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