Seven Things To Ruin An Office Meeting

I’m big on office meetings. Really big. Last year I wrote a blog on 7 Reasons You Should Have Office Meetings. But I only like them when they’re done right. Here’s 7 things you can do if you want to render an office meeting completely unproductive, and hated by you and all your staff members.

  1. Do all the talking yourself. The point of an office meeting is to hear from everyone on the team. Make an effort to ensure that every single person on your team contributes something.
  2. Schedule meetings while the office is open. Even a short meeting (say, 15 minutes) will be interrupted – guaranteed – if the doors are open for patients.  Put a sign on the door “Closed for meeting until XX:XX” and then honor that commitment. If someone knocks on the door and says “I just need a quick <fill in the blank>” you and I both know what that means.  
  3. Schedule meetings only when you need them. Often times when I ask a client if they have office meetings, they respond “yes, we have them whenever we need them”, meaning they have them when they see a problem and need to lay down the law. Wrong answer. Too many owners wait until there’s a crisis – then it’s too late. Well-run, regularly scheduled meetings will help avoid these crises. I recommend a meeting every week.
  4. Dictate the solution to a problem. Example: You notice that your yearly contact lens purchases are down for the last six months. You have been offering a 10% discount for yearly supplies. Your solution – increasing the discount from 10% to 20%. Perhaps that is a good solution, perhaps it isn’t. Instead, have the staff give their thoughts and offer some solutions – they’re the ones that interact with the patients. Mary, your contact lens tech, may suggest “Doc, when you recommend something to a patient they are a lot more willing to act on it. Perhaps you can help by mentioning the benefit of a yearly purchase to every patient during your treatment plan discussion”. Jane at the front desk offers “It would be helpful to have a flyer we can give them showing the cost benefits we already offer. Most of them don’t know we even have a discount”.  Solutions that are provided by staff members are much more likely to actually be executed.
  5. Give non-specific sales goals. Example: “This year our goal is to increase sales by 10% – meeting adjourned”. Uh, OK. We’ll get right on that boss. Big goals need to be broken into smaller, digestible goals. Let the team design specific goals and then report on their progress each week. Perhaps measuring the current number of multiple eyewear sales, and then setting a goal to increase that number each week or month.  Another goal might be to rearrange the appointment schedule to allow one extra exam slot per day. The point is to have something specific and measurable to help you achieve the bigger goal. Use your office meetings to review those incremental goals.
  6. Spend most of the meeting bitching about so-and-so patient. It’s easy to spend a whole meeting on an incident with that %^^@@ patient Mrs. Jones. Yes she was a bitch, and yes she was wrong and we were right, but at the end of the day who cares? One of my favorite sayings is “it’s not our fault, but it’s our problem”. A quick de-briefing of a situation gone bad is good, but make it positive. Solicit thoughts from your staff and ask them “how can we minimize such problems in the future?” And remember, 99% of the patients are reasonable and are the lifeblood of the practice.
  7. Criticize and never compliment. We’re often quick to point out everyone’s weaknesses but forget to recognize when someone is doing a good job. During the week make a note of  staff members who go out of their way to provide great service. “Mary, I want to thank you for the great job you did handling that walk-in emergency last Thursday. Thanks to you we were able to help them and still keep on schedule. Great job!” It costs you nothing but being recognized in front of one’s peers means everything to Mary.

So now – go out and DON’T do those things!

John Scibal
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