Morning Huddles: Take Control of Your Dental Practice!
By Dr. Sharon Tiger, CEO of Tiger Business Consulting Inc.
Being a leader who communicates effectively is a skill that is critical for building and maintaining a successful dental practice. Communication is about getting things done, while also keeping the team engaged and connected. Dentists must establish practice goals and know how to communicate priorities to the team. Designating a time for productive conversations with your employees will help increase their confidence with daily tasks and patient care.
This type of communication can be accomplished by having a morning huddle, a daily meeting where the entire team prepares for the day. Although many doctors might not see the initial value of this meeting, I have found throughout my consulting experience that the most successful practices recognize the importance of a powerful morning huddle.
The morning huddle is a brief 15-20 minute meeting which occurs before the first scheduled patient of the day. This is an opportunity for the dentist to set the tone for the day by showing up in a positive frame of mind. An essential part of being a leader is to be fully present for your team throughout the entire day and not distracted by any outside concerns. A team is a mirror image of their leader, and depending on the doctor's attitude on a specific day, the staff will often reflect the attitude they observe. This is a powerful image for a leader to keep in mind.
1. ORGANIZING YOUR MORNING HUDDLE
- The dentist should choose a different team member to lead the morning huddle each month. The leader must be upbeat and organized since he/she will be accountable for leading the daily meeting for the entire month. The following month, the dentist will choose a different employee to lead.
- The team will stand in a huddle in the break room or any other available quiet area. If everyone begins to sit in their chairs, the meeting becomes unfocused and begins to drag. There is no eating breakfast during the meeting. By standing, the team can remain energized and motivated in moving the meeting along.
- The dentist should be the first one there, arriving 5-10 minutes before the morning huddle.
- All team members will bring a pen, a highlighter, a copy of the day’s schedule and the route sheets for the patients they will be taking care of that day.
- The route sheets should be replacing the need to bring patient charts to the meeting since they contain all the necessary information for your patients. For example, if the patient has family members who are overdue, it will be displayed on the route sheet and serve as a reminder to your team to schedule those family members. If the patient has unscheduled treatment, the hygienist or clinical assistant can address it in the operatory. When the dentist enters the room, he/she can reinforce the treatment concerns mentioned to the patient. This system is critical to increasing case acceptance!
- All team members should review their route sheets the day before to be fully prepared for the morning huddle.
- Clinical team should also be prepared to know which patient will be shown an intra-oral picture of unscheduled treatment.
- The dentist should be engaged in the meeting as well.
2. MORNING HUDDLE FORMAT
Before The Huddle Starts:
- The morning huddle leader encourages everyone to arrive at the meeting on time with their schedules and route sheets. The doctor and leader will be sure that the meeting stays on track and does not run over time.
- The leader greets everyone and says, “Good morning!" They should be upbeat and positive to keep the team engaged. Be sure everyone is standing in a huddle so each team member can see one another.
In the Huddle:
A. Review yesterday’s goals
- Leader asks members of the team to state aloud yesterday’s collections, doctor production, hygiene production, and total production to review if the practice is above or below their goal.
B. Review today’s goals
- Identifying Opportunities- the leader goes around the room asking each hygienist and assistant which patients have major unscheduled treatment that needs to be addressed. The clinical team should have already reviewed their route sheets the day before to be prepared for this section. Also remind the clinical team to have intraoral pictures of this treatment ready to review with the patient and doctor.
- The leader addresses any updates or information with the team such as patient balances, scheduling treatment, upcoming training, etc.
- Leader and doctor tell the team to have a great day! Some teams tell a joke or an inspirational quote at the close of the meeting.
If the doctor or team has other items they would like to discuss that have nothing to do with the morning huddle format, please add those concerns to your monthly team meeting agenda. Otherwise, your morning huddle will get off track.
Although this format may seem like a lengthy meeting, if the team is kept on track and all members are engaged and prepared, it should only take approximately 15 minutes.
The morning huddle is one of the most powerful tools to ensure a productive and efficient day. It affords dentists the opportunity to use their leadership skills to communicate with their team, gives each team member an opportunity to be a leader, allows the day to start with everyone on the same page, and creates team camaraderie.
In my experience working with hundreds of doctors, I have found that the morning huddle is essential in achieving a highly profitable practice.
For any other questions or concerns regarding the morning huddle or any other practice management issues, please contact Dr. Tiger at:
Tiger Business Consulting, Inc.