Staff meetings. Easily one of the most underutilized and often dreaded of staff interactions. Many clinics don’t have staff meetings due to time, work load and staff compliance. Staff meetings are scheduled with intentions of being an open dialogue amongst the team. An inspiring, team building, and open way to discuss issues in the clinic. With starry eyes those in supervisory roles daydream of important conversations, idealistic thoughts on how to better the practice, patient care and our clients experience.

Then, reality sets in… (Buh buh bummmm) and your team begrudgingly shows up on their day off. The staff filters in. Everyone sits down with a caffeinated beverage in hand and the meeting commences. Often it is led with issues in the hospital. Which turns into an epic wrist slapping for the entire team. No one wants to come in on their day off to hear how they’ve been screwing up, that there are unhappy clients or to be reminded yet again that if the lids on the dip quick stains aren’t sealed tightly, the stain will evaporate. I kid you not, this was a topic at every monthly staff meeting for 6 months. So how do we have a productive, encouraging staff meeting without people leaving feeling like it was a complaining session?

1. Focus on what the team is doing right and not what people are doing wrong.

Imagine that meeting after meeting was a list of things that YOU were screwing up on. When people consistently hear what they are doing wrong, it’s hard to remember what they are doing right. Opening staff meetings with acknowledging the team working through a busy period or a happy client’s perspective is truly important to boosting morale. It also keeps people from feeling like they are being reprimanded publicly.

2. Keep it fun!

Maybe playing a silly game of some sort, have a scavenger hunt, or implement team building exercises. I am not talking trust falls here or a drum circle. Just little exercises where coworkers can get to know each other and work as a team in a non-work related manner. By getting to know one another and have fun together we can create a refreshed and positive team.

3. Don’t allow people to dominate the conversation.

There are always more vocal members of the team. That isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but you must find balance. When one person is solely bringing up concerns or ideas, it restricts what others who may be a little shyer to bring things to the table.  Asking employees and coworkers for input is crucial. You may be met with silence. Some people are reluctant to speak up in a group. Let people know if they have ideas they can come to you individually to discuss options. Even better have an anonymous idea box. The biggest factor is allowing various avenues for various personalities.

4. Don’t beat a dead horse.

If a topic is brought up repetitively at a staff meeting then it needs to be addressed with solutions. When topics are repeated, it forces people to zone out during the fifth conversation of why it is crucial to obtain a patient’s weight and temperature when checking them in. Quite simply, if this problem keeps repeating themselves, it is time to make a policy. This policy is discussed at ONE meeting and documented. That’s it. We’re not going to revisit it again. Moving on.

5. Express appreciation to the team.

One of my favorite ways I have seen this done is an appreciation box. People write down reasons they appreciate a coworker on a slip of paper and put it into a decorated box. Every staff meeting these slips are read out loud to the team. It shows how simply covering a shift or answering a phone call when the receptionists are tied up, makes a difference. Anyone who has had their name on the slip can pick a treasure from a box of goodies.  These goodies can include candy, gift cards, stickers or any fun little item the clinic can compile. My favorite goodie I have received was hand sanitizer. But everyone has a small thing that can brighten their day.

Staff meetings don’t have to be a dreaded occasion. They can be an opportunity to bring a team together, get to know each other better and bring about new and innovative ideas. The best ideas are brought about by people who do their jobs every day and think of ways to make it better. By finding ways to allow the team to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas they will become more invested in the clinic. Never underestimate what your team has to offer!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team.


Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Wash. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!