In veterinary medicine, just as with any business, gathering the team for meetings is necessary. Whether you happen to plan yours more frequently, such as with daily huddles (something we recommend) or you prefer to space them out a bit more, one thing remains constant: the importance of making the most out of the time spent together. After all, time and availability are precious commodities – especially in a busy vet practice like yours. To ensure that you’re not wasting a single moment, here are a few meeting optimization tips.
Have an agenda. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you should at the very least have a general idea of what you’d like to cover in the meeting. Without a plan, it’s far too easy to get side tracked and waste valuable time. Making a list and sticking to it will also ensure that meetings don’t run past their scheduled time.
Get buy-in. The best way to optimize the time spent in team meetings is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to participate, even if it’s as simple as listing a small victory from the previous week. For smaller practices, this is pretty easy. Larger groups may find this a bit more challenging. If you are pressed for time and have too many team members to facilitate this, select a few at each gathering.
Have solutions in mind. If the purpose of your meeting is to discuss problems that are occurring within the practice, try to come to the group armed with at least one or two proposed solutions. If possible, ask others to do the same. This will provide a better starting point and can help generate productive discussions that will actually result in a resolution (rather than just talking in circles).
Appoint a leader. It’s okay, even encouraged to invite feedback and open discussion amongst meeting participants, but it’s also important to keep an eye on the clock. This is why it’s a good idea to appoint a meeting facilitator – someone who will be in charge of ensuring that conversations don’t veer too far off topic and that the time being spent isn’t being wasted.
Summarize and prioritize takeaways. What did you accomplish during your meeting? Was a decision made? Did you come up with a new strategy for dealing with a particular issue that’s been plaguing your practice? Whatever solutions you’ve uncovered should be reiterated before concluding the meeting. Likewise, team members should walk away with a clear understanding of what, if any, “next steps” they are responsible for.
End on a positive note. Before wrapping things up, ask participants to share their closing thoughts and provide feedback for the meeting. If the discussion happened to involve something negative, be sure to finish things on a positive note, whether it’s sharing a funny story about a patient, an uplifting story about a new client, or showcasing an employee for going above and beyond.
Meetings are often considered to be a necessary evil, but with the right attitude and approach, they don’t have to be viewed in a bad light. By putting the above strategies into practice, you can ensure that team gatherings are positive, productive and an efficient use of everyone’s time.