Many of the people with whom I have discussed the topic of staff meetings see little value in them and only have them when they are “necessary.” For many of these people, staff meetings are scheduled when a problem arises, and the meeting comes down to a complaint session and usually is unproductive. In this instance, I agree that staff meetings are overrated.

dental team in staff meeting

So why have team meetings at all? Probably the most common question I hear from students I mentor is: how do I start to do this ( photography , equilibration, cosmetics, etc.) in my office? I believe every change that you want to make in your office begins in a staff meeting. 

For your team to support your vision, they need to have an opportunity to voice their thoughts in a safe environment. They need to know that they have been heard and have input into the decision process and the enactment process. Many times, my team comes up with better ideas than I had come up with to solve our barriers or growth steps. They take ownership as well.

Many offices have huddles prior to the beginning of the work day. Huddles that review schedule, lab cases, emergencies, etc. are not staff meetings. 

So the questions that come to mind about staff meetings are: how often should I have a staff meeting? How long shall they be? When should they be? What should they be about?

Our office of nine has a team meeting weekly for two hours. They are sacred times for our family to get together, break bread, and share ideas. I have been told that there is a significant cost involved with dedicating this much non-productive time into a busy schedule. I agree, but there is a greater cost of not having a dedicated time set aside to grow your entire office team. It is the cost of our education. If you do not have this time etched into your schedule, it will not happen.

Staff meetings have been a regular part of our practice for the past 25 years. Our numbers show consistent growth and profitability. I believe our time to plan together as a group is a key factor in our success.

When is the best time of day to have staff meetings? Whatever works for you is best. One of my friends has them at the beginning of the day. We tend to have them over a two-hour lunch period. 

Muhammad Ali once said, ”you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

What should they be about? Everything! If your office is in transition - going from where you are now to where you want to be - staff meetings are where the magic happens. It is where you as a group develop your vision, develop your plan of attack and create your office culture. It gives you the time needed for training, role playing, inducing new procedures, problem solving, celebrating successes and, most importantly, having fun.

We have a sheet to which everyone can add a topic of discussion for team meetings. Whoever adds the topic leads that discussion. We use Spear videos for topics of discussion and training. The 10-minute videos take us two hours to review. 

We stop them regularly to discuss how we feel about what is presented and also how we can take the ideas that we like from the videos and incorporate them into our office systems. Topics brought up on Spear Talk also make it into our staff meetings. Information from CE courses that anyone has taken is shared. It is important that everyone in the office knows what the others are doing in their roles as team members.

Some of our most fun times at staff meetings were when we did things for team building. Bingo has always been a hit, as well as riddle solving, puzzle challenges and competitive shopping sprees. The video below shows what we did at a team meeting after we got our MiniSTAR.

Are staff meetings overrated? I do not believe I would have gotten to where I am today without my team being 100 percent behind me and supporting my vision. Staff meetings are the vehicle that took us there.

Carl Steinberg, DDS, MAGD, LLSR