The main role of an administrator in a multiple dentist group practice is that of communication. Each dentist wants to know what’s going on and no one likes to feel they are out of the loop. In a busy, multiple dentist practice, this is no small trick!
One of my keys to communication is having regular meetings with an agenda. Just like a dentist wouldn’t walk into a treatment room without the proper tray setup, I would never walk into a meeting without an agenda. This may seem easy – don’t you just write down a few things you want to talk about? I have found that running effective meetings that accomplish tasks and keep everyone on the same page is one of the most important (if not the most important) tasks that I have as the administrator. The dentists appreciate moving quickly through a meeting that meets their needs to both find out any current issues going on in the practice and share their opinions on subjects they care about when it’s time to make decisions.
I create an agenda for a weekly dentist meeting and a weekly team leader meeting. I run the team leader meeting with a representative from the assistant team, secretary team and hygiene team in attendance (that’s right, no dentists attend this one). Lasting one hour, the team leaders each take a turn giving a report on their team – any new issues that have come up or problems they are facing, next they review their assigned tasks to let me know what was accomplished and they clarify the new assigned tasks for that week. I include a general update section for them and a discussion section for items I believe affect the entire staff. My three team leaders and I have been working together like this for years – they know tasks are to be accomplished (and off the agenda) in 1-2 weeks and they do a great job taking my agenda to their team meetings to keep their groups updated and on the same page as well.
My dentists receive a copy of the team leader agenda so they can ask any questions or follow up on any areas of interest. Their meeting is different – although we still review what was accomplished from past assigned tasks (for example, which dentist was calling references on our new hire specialist), we also talk about what have each of us done in the last week to grow the practice and learn new things. The rest of the meeting centers on my discussion items which is where they get to express opinions and make decisions. I often provide supporting material so they can see the numbers and make better decisions.
These regular meetings help our group to stay on track with our vision and mission as well. Most of the tasks come from our Strategic Planning Calendar which we create at the beginning of the year. So we take a step back every January to take a look at the entire practice – each dentist’s performance, the teams’ performance, vendors, patients, finances and even the broader scope of the community/economy and the challenges facing our practice. We come up with tasks that would move us closer to our vision – and I sprinkle these across the full year’s calendar to show up through our team leader and dentist agendas.
There are many benefits to a practice for having regular meetings based on this approach:
- The dentists are well-informed of the practice/staff activities
- The dentists share their opinions and make decisions together
- The team leaders take responsibility for communication with their teams
- Staff and dentists are constantly working on tasks that move the practice toward the vision of the owner(s)
- Problems that suddenly arise can be handled quickly
If your staff often wonders what’s going on or you feel like your team is headed in 5 different directions, perhaps it’s time to look at your communication structure? With a strong agenda and regular meetings, your group can be working well together to meet your goals.