Most people think of daily huddles as people standing around cuddling each other, the idea of which brings a smile to my face, but couldn’t be further from the truth.
What a huddle can bring is a very interactive experience for the whole team, one that has a clear impact, which is positive and motivational. With this in mind, here are my top tips for introducing and achieving huddle success.
The huddle leader
The person who should lead a huddle is the leader of the pack, whether that be the practice manager, business manager or practice owner.
This person needs to be motivational, have clear leadership skills and actually inspire the team. This is the person who is going to be communicating to all the team and make it clear what needs to be achieved during the day.
A huddle doesn’t have to be an arduous process, most people think that they have to go on for 20 minutes or more, but this shouldn’t be the case – five to 10 minutes at the most. The aim is to get the team together, for example in reception, for a short blast of communication and motivation.
Make everyone stand up in a group, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee in hand to ensure that the session is light and informal. Obviously there needs to be a little bit of an agenda, but ideally nothing with paperwork involved.
The aim of a huddle is to start the day positively. Creating a connection first thing in the morning demonstrates that you are here to focus on the day ahead, but will also give you the opportunity to impact on attitude, and set the tone and stimulate positive engagement within the whole team for the rest of the day.
You need to share what has been learnt from the day before, good and bad, and particular business items to note for that day. The idea is to provide short and constant learning journeys.
People love to learn and will thrive from the benefits of this. Motivate people to contribute, ask questions, and recognise the ‘in the moment’ successes, which can easily go forgotten if a shout out is not made there and then.
With huddles sorted, another important way to motivate staff is with regular staff meetings.
Frequency and focus
I would say that most practices conduct staff meetings at least (as a minimum due to regulations) once a month.
These types of meetings are your chance for focused time to share the practice goals, describe what is happening within the business in more detail, and address common problems or issues.
However, I stress that these meetings should be conducted within a ‘solution finding’ method rather than ‘who did what’ and ‘what went wrong’ – the aim is not for it to end up as a gripe session. Don’t save all the bad stuff up and turn it into a ranting session, it will only make your staff feel uncomfortable and the outcome unproductive.
The person leading the meeting needs to set an agenda – this will enable you to ensure that you cover all vital regulation and policy updates as well as a basis for keeping your meetings on track in terms of goals and business detail. It will also give a clear indication, ahead of the meeting, on the topics to be discussed and give your team a chance to think about how they can contribute to the discussion.
To use my staff meetings most effectively, I also aim to build morale and provide refresher training. In fact, it can be more engaging if each member of staff takes it in turn to deliver a small element of training as a regular slot in your agenda. Make sure that you let them present it in their own style, never script them, then the sense of achievement and involvement will boost confidence and motivation.
Hopefully this will have given you a foundation for implementing your own staff huddles or structuring your monthly meetings. My last piece of advice overall would be to always make sure that any type of meeting you hold is a positive experience for your team, as only then will your practice reap the benefits.
Practice Plan is a specialist provider of practice-branded dental membership plans and an increasingly significant source of wider business support services for dentistry. For more information visit www.practiceplan.co.uk.