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The Basics Meetings Part 2: How to make meetings a success in your veterinary clinic

Posted in The Basics - Managing Your Veter @ Sep 3rd 2020 - By Tracy Kamens, Senior Practice Advisor, Vettr
The Basics How To Make Meetings A Success In Your Veterinary Clinic Part 2

Staff meetings can be the key to your veterinary clinic success (Part 2)

In Part 1 we discussed the common reasons why meetings don’t work and what you can do to get over those hurdles. However, the fact remains that all of the top performing veterinary practices shut for weekly meetings. The key to their success is running their meetings effectively!

There are a number of tried and true processes that you can incorporate into your meetings to make them a success. But first....

A quality staff meeting begins with 3 key principles:

1. The meeting should be scheduled at a specific time every week (or at the very least every fortnight)

2. The clinic door should be locked and the team only available for emergencies

3. Clinic phones should be turned over to message bank

Perhaps not surprisingly, these can be some of the biggest hurdles to get over. However, they’re essential as without a clear structure and no interruptions, it will be impossible to successfully implement the following strategies for success.

Essential strategies for effective meetings

1. Set the meeting agenda

Agenda topics can include things such as:

  • Protocol reviews,
  • Client educational focus,
  • Shout-out to team member/s displaying core values,
  • HR – policies, etc.
  • Mental wellness,
  • Occupational Workplace Issues,
  • Client news,
  • Staff news,
  • Marketing,
  • Team goals, etc.

Setting the agenda before the meeting, doesn’t mean you can’t also have a list that team members can add discussion points to, however, there are two things you need to discuss with your team with respect to the discussion point list.

Firstly, the meeting shouldn’t be used for performance management issues. For example, if a problem is stated as “There seems to be an issue in remembering to put dates on the fluid bag….” when in fact, it’s only Sally who isn’t doing this particular task, then this needs to be addressed with a one-on-one discussion before the meeting and the issue removed from the discussion list.

Secondly, by no means does the discussion list have to be a bitch list and there’s no reason for it to be filled with negative points. Encouraging your team to also add positive notes will lead to a distinctly different feeling throughout the meeting.

2.  Write each agenda item as a question

By using questions rather than statements, you’re opening topics for discussion and demonstrating that you are willing to hear other points of view. You’ll end up with much better solutions and ideas by encouraging your team to think outside of the box and bring up issues you might not have thought about  - which is also another reason to give your team plenty of time to consider the agenda items before they attend the meeting.

3. Share the Agenda with the entire team prior to the meeting

Send the agenda to each of your team members individually as well as displaying it on a noticeboard where all can see prior to the meeting. This is important especially if there are discusions or decisions that require either thought or preparation before the meeting. No one likes to be put on the spot and often people need thinking time so set them up for success by having good planning structures in place.

4. During the meeting, take minutes or notes

Using the Agenda as a guide, take minutes on the points discussed and agreements reached. Minutes are essential when not all staff can attend meetings but are also great reminders as to what was decided at the time.

Often not all topics on the agenda will be resolved in the time allocated, which is fine. You just need to summarise where you are up to, ie. what are the pros/cons of the change or what are the hurdles that are preventing something from working efficiently, then create an action task for the topic to be finalised at the next meeting.

5. Set the meeting objectives

Always start the meeting on a positive note, with stretches, a quick game, or a funny YouTube clip. Anything that is enjoyable will help your team to clear their minds, concentrate and be present. Step 2 is to always review the action list from the last meeting to discuss what has been completed and what is left to do.

Then step 3 is to state what you want the staff to take away from the current meeting. Ie: all notes to be read, those with actions do them in a timely manner, any policy updates to be implemented by when, training objectives, etc.

It’s also essential for every meeting to have an action list recorded as part of the meeting notes or minutes that details what the task is, who is responsible for it and when it has to be completed by and then this is also shared with the entire team and reviewed at the next meeting.

Finishing the meeting with a ‘take away message is also important, especially for those meetings that involve training.

6. Start and end on Time

Everyone’s time is valuable!

By committing to a start and end time and sticking to it shows your team you care and respect their time.

7. After the meeting...

Send out meeting minutes and ask everyone to initial mark as read:

Sending our meeting minutes is especially important for those in the team who were not able to make the meeting. One idea is to encourage a buddy system where a staff member volunteers to discuss the meeting with a specific person who was unable to attend.

There should be NO reason to read the previous meeting’s minutes at the next meeting. Your team culture should be such that it is everyone’s responsibility to know what happened and if they don’t know, they should ask.

Check in with those who have action tasks to complete:

After the meeting follow up individuals with action tasks to complete to find out if they need any resources or help to complete their task and set a date to follow up on their progress.

6. Regularly evaluate your meeting effectiveness

As with all parts of your practice: Create – Measure – Review – Re-create – Repeat!

Evaluating your meetings can be done via a short digital questionnaire sent to the staff with questions such as:

  • On a scale of 1-10 rate our meeting, did we cover off on all the set objectives?
  • Tell us 1 thing we can do to improve our next meeting,
  • Did the facilitator encourage discussion from the entire team?
  • Did we manage time wisely?

With these key items addressed, your meetings will be transformed! 

If you need further help in setting up effective meetings in your veterinary clinic, or have any questions, just ask them in the Comments section below.

Vetanswers Member Resources: 

References and suggested reading:

https://www.dvm360.com/view/game-3-strategies-better-veterinary-team-meetings

https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/how-to-overcome-resistance-to-change-hold-effective-team-meetings/

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-lead-a-team-meeting-2275935

https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/4-tips-to-productive-meetings-with-your-veterinary-staff/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-habits-highly-effective-meetings-bruce-harpham/

https://www.wrike.com/blog/team-building-games/

About Tracy

Tracy has over 25 years experience in the veterinary industry, having worked as a nurse, practice manager, practice owner, industry rep, several buying groups and now Senior Practice Advisor for Vettr https://www.vettr.com.au/

She is passionate about finding ways to help businesses improve and grow. Mentoring staff to achieve their potential along with customer service and marketing are some of the key areas she enjoys. If you would like to get in contact feel free to email tracy@vettr.com.au

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