How to Run an Effective Team Morning Huddle
One of the most important management tools that dental consultants advocate using is the morning huddle. So what is it and how can you make the best use of this concept to improve your practice’s productivity and morale?
The morning huddle is a 5-15 minute meeting that you have with your staff first thing in the morning. How important is it? Well, just imagine the star football team missing their mid-game huddle. It simply wouldn’t happen – and it shouldn’t happen in your dental practice either. Why? Because morning huddles are essential for a successful day ahead by giving you an overview of your day and how to best manage it for a productive and stress free (happy!) work place.
Why are morning huddles so important?
You crawl out of bed, gulp down your morning coffee, and somehow manage to get dressed and brush your hair before heading off to the office. When you get there, you’re still tired and dreading the day ahead.
The office is in full chaos. The front desk is handling the last minute cancellations that were left on the answering machine. The dental assistants are running around trying to find the lab case for the big delivery today. The hygienists are fighting over the back up ultrasonic unit and then you hear that one of the x-ray units is not working. And that is just within the first 5 minutes of you stepping into the office!Welcome to the morning huddle – the perfect time to inspire and motivate your staff to thrive today and to troubleshoot problems before the first patient walks into the office.
Motivation isn’t the only purpose of your morning huddle. It’s also a time to share pertinent information and deliver status checks. It’s your opportunity for staff to communicate with one another (and for you to communicate with your staff), to correct for any misinformation and answer any unresolved questions from the day before, and to build positive relationships between your staff – all without any interruption.
This is a great time to discuss Mrs. Smith, the very demanding and difficult patient that is coming in today who normally stresses out the entire staff. Planning a game plan on how to handle her and any other possible hiccups for the day will help make the day go smoother and create a less stressful workplace. And of course, that makes everyone happy!
But remember, your morning huddle will set the tone for your entire day so having a productive one is critical. The last thing you want is for this to be a finger pointing session.
So how do you run an effective team morning huddle?
It may sound silly, but there’s a huge difference between sitting and standing for a meeting. Firstly, standing will help to boost your staff’s energy levels – which is especially important first thing in the morning.
Secondly, standing will help to keep your meeting short, sweet, and to the point. For some reason, people tend to go more off topic when they’re sitting, which will take up much more time.
So start every morning by standing.
Start with good news.
Again, your morning huddle will set the tone for your entire day, so start it off right. Ask your staff if anyone has any good news to share (this doesn’t have to be work related) or share some good news of your own.
The start of a huddle is also a great time to share any exciting new projects, to recognize accomplishments, to offer incentives, or to plan for special days (ie. ugly sweater day, potluck day, etc). Bringing in a little treat for your staff never hurt anyone either.
Ask the Right Questions
There’s a million and one things that you could talk to your staff about, but most of it can be kept for other meetings. Your morning huddle is a time to address immediate concerns and to talk about the day ahead. To prevent yourself from going off topic, generate a list of questions you will ask beforehand. You might ask things like:
- Does anyone have any questions or concerns to address?
- Are there any roadblocks that we need to overcome?
- What are our goals/targets today?
- What are the daily metrics?
- Have all patients confirmed appointments today?
- Do we have any time to fit in emergency care?
- Do we have any new patients coming into the office today? What can we do to wow them?
Let everyone speak
When running a morning huddle, it’s important that you don’t let yourself take over. Say your piece, but allow each member of your staff to have their turn as well. Vocalizing individual status updates will motivate team members and hold them accountable for their goals.
If you have a lot of people in the office, you can consider breaking down into different departments or teams to prevent the meeting from running too long.
Finally, keep your morning meeting short and sweet. Remember that not all concerns need to be addressed today. So address the concerns that are immediate and leave the other concerns for a true staff meeting. Use this time wisely to focus on the daily tasks at hand and to motivate your staff to make today better than the last.