Take Back Your Team Huddle
Team huddles—you probably either love them or hate them. At some practices, the huddle is the most productive part of the day, and works well at getting everyone on the same page so it’s easier to focus on patient care the rest of the time. At others, huddles can feel unfocused, or even like a gossipy waste of time that’s hard for doctors or managers to control.
If you’re pretty sure your practice’s huddles are in the second category, know that you are not alone. Since your team and the routines you follow are unique, what works well at one office might not always work for yours. But if you’d like to rehabilitate a dysfunctional morning or afternoon huddle, or just need a few small tweaks to make yours better, here are some simple tips.
Establish (or Re-Establish) Your Goals
First, sit down and determine the overall goals of your huddle. Good questions to ask yourself might include:
- What could we go over in our team huddle that would free up more time later in the day?
- What can our huddle do to make my employees’ day a little easier? What about my day?
- What are the benefits of our huddle, and what are the consequences of NOT doing it?
- What did I want my last huddle to accomplish that it didn’t, and why did it fail?
These steps will help you determine what goals your huddle should accomplish. The next step is to figure out how it will accomplish them.
Organize Your Huddle
Now that you’ve got some clear goals, establish your agenda. Without one, your huddle is basically a car without a steering wheel.
First, decide how long your huddle should last—10-15 minutes is the usual sweet spot. A shorter huddle might not accomplish everything it needs to, and if it goes much longer, employees may lose focus and start discussing cat videos instead.
With a timeframe in mind, make your agenda by determining the most important tasks your huddle needs to accomplish. The specifics will vary depending on your practice’s needs, but productive team huddles often include:
- A brief discussion about how the previous day went, for both you and your employees
- A clear statement of the current day’s goals
- A chance for both you and your team to discuss what you need from each other to accomplish these goals. This is also a good time to address team concerns.
Once your agenda is set, you are ready for action. However, since even the best laid plans of mice and dental offices go awry, you will need more than a solid agenda to keep things moving forward.
Keep Your Huddle On-Point
Being a good leader sometimes calls for a light managerial touch, but if you give an inch to off-topic discussions in your huddle, they will take a mile! It takes effort to keep these meetings brief, productive, and aligned with your goals.
Watch out for these common pitfalls:
- Shy or quiet employees not participating, or outgoing employees domineering the agenda. Correct this by directly asking quieter employees for feedback, and reminding everyone to be respectful when others are talking.
- Too many tangents. Correct this by tabling off-topic discussion until a later time. Or, offer to discuss important concerns individually.
- Distractions that hinder your ability to take charge. Correct this by preventing the distraction in the first place. For example, rather than taking your own notes, have another employee take them for you, and provide you with a copy later.
If your meeting encounters any of these roadblocks, correct it firmly and promptly. Your employees will see you care about the meeting’s agenda, and should behave accordingly.
End with Something Fun
Since successful team huddles can require more micromanagement than usual, your team might appreciate ending them on a lighter note. This could be something like a daily inspirational quote, asking each employee to name something they learned the prior day, or even a daily joke or pun. Your team feeling uplifted and cheerful at the end of the meeting will help set the tone for the rest of their day.
As you can see, a lean and mean 15-minute huddle doesn’t happen by accident—it takes planning and constant oversight. It may be that your practice’s situation won’t allow for a team huddle, or that they don’t work well for you, and that’s fine. But if you are interested in the team-building and productivity boost they can offer, it’s never too late to get your huddle back on track.