The morning huddle

huddleKick start the day with a team discussion to help the practice run as smoothly as possible, says Laura Jamison

The US magazine Dentaltown conducted a month-long survey to find out how dentists use their time. Almost a third of them (60%) claimed that they do not hold a regular morning meeting, ‘huddle’, or team talk.
To be profitable, the solution is easy. It is necessary to close all the gaps that can be closed. A well-orchestrated morning huddle can add tens of thousands to your bottom line and ensure that the team receives consistent bonuses. How? By adding more revenue, creating opportunities or preventing missed ones.
Perhaps you’ve decided not to have a morning huddle because you are tired of meeting to read the schedule. Or you don’t want to be in the practice any more than you have to. I get it. However, this is what I know… when my clients and the team are polled at the end of one year of consulting, 90% of the employees claim that the morning huddle had the most profound effect on the practice.
The morning huddle
Here’s how to do it well:
1. Believe that a morning huddle is like breakfast. Every day should start with it
2. Set a good example. As the leader, expect to arrive at the practice 10-15 minutes before your huddle begins. Every team member must make the same commitment
3. Make it productive. Charts, schedules, accounts, business numbers must be prepared and reviewed on a daily basis, the day prior to the huddle
4. Allow each employee a block of admin time, daily. This time can be used to prepare a checklist for the next day’s meeting, finish up admin for the day, confirm lab cases, make follow-up phone calls. A 15-20 minute segment of the day can be set aside for these tasks

5. Don’t waste time! Use a checklist to guide your morning huddle. When discussions cause a disruption, post the topic on a team meeting agenda form to discuss at your next staff meeting
6. Sign up! So that a patient isn’t left feeling unwelcome at the front desk, create a beautiful sign to let them know that, ‘In order to be better prepared for your visit, we are in a brief team meeting. We will be with you promptly at 8:00am’
7. Start and finish on time
8. Be positive. Encourage team members to be responsible for bringing thoughts for the day
9. Stand, don’t sit. This is not a coffee break
10. Let your patients know how important they are. Remember the finer points of what you discussed in the morning huddle throughout the day.

Practice vision

Communication as a team is key to effective management. The practice vision can’t be accomplished without continuously revisiting what your purpose is. Most practices would say that they exist to serve the patient, to provide excellent dentistry in a setting that improves the perception of dentistry.
Meeting on a daily basis not only enables the team to prepare for each patient visit, but it also gives the group time to refocus on the practice vision. Essentially, you are accomplishing the mission of the practice by paying attention to the details of the day.
So, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate the purpose for what you do in this huddle. Repetition can be highly effective as a means of inspiring the team. Don’t we all need to be reminded of why we do what we do from time to time?

Quality and quantity

As one final suggestion, write out your practice mission statement. Start your huddle with it or finish by citing examples from the previous day that exemplified your vision.
Here is an example of what that would sound like: ‘Yesterday, Elizabeth Davis was seen as an emergency patient. She had been fearful of dentists since she was a young woman. Sandra went out of her way to greet her warmly, seat her on time and keep her company while we determined what was able to get her out of discomfort. Elizabeth told me that if Sandra had not stayed with her the whole time, she would have been tempted to just get up and walk out of the practice. We all need to be reminded that it’s the quality of the time that we spend with the patient and in this case, also the quantity of time.’

Part of the routine

Once you begin having a morning huddle, even with it’s inherent obstacles, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. It’s like breakfast – every day should start with it!


Laura Jamison has been a consultant for more than 25 years. She is a successful dental speaker. Email Laura at [email protected]



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