By Ken Krivacic, OD, MBA
July 13, 2016
Staff meetings let employees know the goals you are striving toward, and enable practice owners to work with their team to better patient care and enhance revenues.
SET MONTHLY OR QUARTERLY GOALS. Check in weekly to see how you and your staff are doing at reaching those goals.
CREATE ITINERARY. List specific goals and needed improvements to address, along with any guest speakers.
ENGAGE STAFF. Give staff assignments, such as each employee coming with a practice metric to present and discuss.
It’s easy to lose sight of the practice vision, and the owner’s goals for improvement, in a busy practice. My team stays on track with weekly staff meetings. We check on how we’re doing, and talk about ways to improve the care and experience of our patients in our office.
Focus on Communication
The main purpose of weekly staff meetings is communication. Our office is a single-location practice with three doctors and 22 employees. We conduct weekly staff meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to conducting the day-to-day activities of a busy optometric practice.
These meetings are different from our biannual staff retreats where we take a day, go offsite and have a planning and strategy meeting.
Play The Great Game of Business
Dr. Krivacic plays the Great Game of Business with his staff, modeled after the Great Game of Business book by Jack Stack. The book advocates open book management that keeps employees updated on practice financial metrics.
Practice Owner Shares Their Vision
The practice owner’s role at the meeting is like their role in the practice in general. That role is to provide the vision and leadership during the meeting. The leader needs to set the example that the meeting needs to be productive and not devolve into a complaining session. The leader also needs to set the mood and make the meeting a place where no idea is a bad idea and everyone is free and expected to contribute. The leader needs to set the expectation that the meeting is a tool to be used for the betterment of the practice, the practice’s employees and the practice’s patients.
As the leader of the meeting, it is your responsibility to ensure meetings don’t lead to finger pointing or unproductive criticism. If it looks like things are headed that way, remind the staff that the meeting is designed to come with solutions to challenges, and not just to complain about them.
Set Goals & Check in Weekly
Since most of our practice goals are based on monthly or quarterly time frames, we are constantly reviewing where we are in relationship to attaining that goal, and if we are behind in our mission, what can be done to achieve the goal.
An example of this is our monthly collection goal. We review our status every week and look for areas where we could improve to hit the goal. Do we have open exam slots we can fill? Can we emphasize second-pair sales in our optical? Can we send out an e-mail to our patient base promoting the new multifocal contact lens that we are now using? The options are endless, and with your staff’s help, you can come up with good ideas to help you attain your goals.
Create Itinerary in Advance
We always have an itinerary for each meeting. The itinerary starts with the metrics from the current month. These include production and collection numbers for the month-to-date. We have a bonus plan in place that rewards all employees if we have a good month. A good month is defined as collecting 5 percent more than we did the previous year for that month. After reviewing the numbers, we usually have a discussion about how to get to the goal, i.e., do we need to schedule more exams, can we improve second-pair sales, can we have a promotion for the month that would help us attain our goal?
The next portion of the meeting is dedicated to specific topics. Those could be the addition of new equipment, the schedule for the next few weeks, a specific experience that a patient may have had in our office, whether good or bad, and the reading of online patient reviews.
The last portion of the staff meeting is used to review the practice metrics we use to conduct another bonus system we play called “The Great Game of Business.”
Make Meetings More Productive
Have an agenda to follow
Have a start and end time
Set aside time during normal business hours to conduct the meeting
Be consistent in metric tracking – every week, every month or year.
No idea is a bad idea
Err on the side of a shorter meeting rather than longer
Pay your employees for their time at the meeting
Do not single out an individual as a bad example
Conduct meetings before seeing patients rather than at lunch or the end of the day
Keep the practice’s best interest as your focal point
Organize Engaging Activities
Since a portion of our meeting revolves around playing The Great Game of Business, employees are assigned certain metrics to bring to the meeting. These are usually financial metrics, and can range from the estimated sale of frames for the month to expenses related to office supplies for the month. Each employee is assigned a category and expected to provide their numbers at each meeting.
In the other portion of our meeting we will occasionally have an employee discuss a new product we are carrying or a new procedure we are introducing to the practice. A recent example of this was when we introduced the InflammaDry procedure into our practice. One of our techs showed the rest of the staff how the test was conducted and what we used it for. There was also a discussion on how this will help us enhance our patient’s experience in our office, and how it will benefit the practice.
Discuss & Improve
A conversation we had at a recent meeting resulted in us changing how we scheduled patients first thing in the morning. Our front desk staff had expressed the need for more time slots for contact lens follow-ups or short office visits. At the staff meeting we presented the situation and after several minutes of brainstorming came up the solution of booking a slot like that alongside the first full exam of the day. Our techs noted that the start of the day for them offers some leeway for a short visit while the other technician is working up the full exam. We decided to use that time to work in a shorter visit that could be completed before the full exam is worked up.
Turn Around Disappointing Performance
Just like any other practice, or business, we have months, or even years, when we don’t make our goals. How do you keep this from destroying staff morale, or worse, having them emotionally quit on you? There is not an easy answer for that.
First, I think it begins with having realistic goals. If the goals you set are constantly so high that it is rare they will be achieved, the staff will eventually become so frustrated that they will not even try. That’s just human nature. Goals need to be realistic and attainable. They also need to be such that they are attained with more effort than is usual to hit that goal. In other words, you want to set a goal that both you and your staff have to stretch in order to make.
Also, remind people to look at the big picture. One bad week, or one bad month, doesn’t mean the goal is out of reach. Have the staff go back and look at what was done during the weeks or months that goals were achieved and what everyone needs to do to recreate the results of those time periods.
Finally, simply – stay positive! It’s not whether you fall down, but whether you get up after you fall down.
Invite Reps to Present
We take advantage of reps to help present topics at meetings. Obviously, this involves them touting new products. We feel if the product can help our practice grow, then it’s a great way to bring in an outside “expert” to present the product. We did this recently when one of the contact lens companies introduced a new multifocal soft lens.
We also brought the rep in from Chanel when we decided to carry their frame line. He not only showed the product line to the entire staff, but also gave a PowerPoint presentation that described the history of Coco Chanel and the company. That sort of thing not only benefits the vendor, but your practice.