Put your practice on the path to success in the new year with these productivity tips from Dr. Walt West.
When I started my first optometric practice, I knew little to nothing about business management. But, to be fair, that’s true of most optometrists.
One of the things I clearly didn’t do well starting out was running meetings. Looking back, it pains me to think of the literally hundreds of hours lost on inefficient meetings with my staff.
Over the years, I read about and tried pretty much every technique out there for making meetings more productive, and I’ve boiled it down to these eight essential tips.
1. Always start meetings on time.
If just three people wait an average of five minutes per meeting for the fourth person to arrive, that adds up to hours of lost productivity over the period of a year. Not to mention, it’s also extremely frustrating, and starting a meeting in a state of frustration kills creativity.
2. Have a written agenda.
Ideally circulate the agenda at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting so that you and all the participants are as prepared as possible.
3. Everyone must participate.
In staff meetings, you want to encourage everyone to participate. Consider all points of view so you can make the best decisions. One way to get everyone involved is to have the members of your staff take turns running the meetings.
4. Stick to the schedule.
The entire meeting and each agenda item must have a time limit. If an individual agenda item goes long, revisit it at the end of the meeting (if there’s time), or schedule another meeting to discuss it.
5. Stay on topic.
While it’s okay to go off on an occasional tangent, you need to guide the discussion back on topic. The agenda and time limits will help with this.
6. Don’t hold unnecessary meetings.
If you have trouble creating the agenda (in that there’s nothing important to discuss), it might mean that you shouldn’t hold the meeting in the first place. However, you aren’t the only one who decides whether there’s something important to discuss. Your staff need to have input as well.
7. End meetings with clear action items.
This is key—coming up with great ideas during a meeting is meaningless unless those ideas are documented and assigned with a completion dates and follow up reports scheduled.
Every meeting—or at least every two or three meetings—ask for feedback from the doctors and staff regarding ways to improve the way your meetings are run.
These eight tips will make your meetings more productive, and you and your staff will accomplish much more than you ever imagined.
So, if you’ve never had a staff meeting, or you used to have them and quit for whatever reason, start now or try again and let the first meeting be a discussion on how my eight tips can make your meetings more meaningful and productive.