I hate meetings. They're one of the most expensive things you do since every attendee is essentially unproductive for that amount of time, they tend to be too long, and they ramble. Painful. Here's how to do better.
Note: This is the first in a series of posts... or maybe a guide, on how to organize and manage your clinic for max productivity.
Meetings are inherently expensive. Depending upon your team size, an hour long meeting might cost you anywhere from a hundred to more than a thousand dollars in overhead costs and lost productivity. If you look at every 'meeting' as having that kind of cost, you'll probably look at your meetings differently, but we can take some lessons from the folks who focus the most on productivity: Silicon Valley startups. Those are the teams who developed productivity systems like scrums, sprints, and others techniques that are designed to maximize throughput across teams. These some practices that you can adopt to increase both your teams productivity and engagement, and minimize cost and downtime.
One of the most effective uses of 'meeting' time is to hold a daily standup huddle every morning with the entire team (or multiple teams if you're big). It's effectively a coming together to ensure that everyone is focused on the targets for that day and a chance to have everyone state what their daily goals are (making everyone accountable).
Setting it up
Here are the rules. I've used the typical 'tech' standup as a guide but have adapted it to the clinic environment:
- A pre-set time every day. Which time and place is up to the team to decide. It is a meeting in which the team plans their day.
- Keep a time-box of 5 to ten minutes. The purpose of the standup is NOT to have a rambling discussion or airing of grievances or planning.
- Standing up. It keeps the meeting short since no one likes standing in a meeting. You'll see that it takes up much less time but everyone (yes you doc) has to stand. (This is not required but is often useful, especially to start and set the tone and expecatations.)
- Every member of the team “answers” three questions:
- What did I accomplish since the last meeting?
- What am I working on or until the next meeting?
- What getting in your way or keeping you from meeting my goals?
Note: If detailed discussions come up it is a good practice to take them offline immediately after the meeting.
How to do it:
The process I suggest is this:
- One set daily meeting at the beginning of the day.
- Forced timeboxed duration. 10 minutes be fore you unlock the front door is a good time and forces compliance to the time limit. (15 minutes is usually too long unless you're a bigger team. See below.)
- Everyone stands up (Some teams don't but I've found it useful when introducing new teams. You'll see that people speak faster and it moves right along.)
- Speak in turns. (You can use an object to pass. Only the person with the object can speak.)
- Keep updates in the form of: What I did, what I plan to do, what is blocking me.
- Any follow-up conversations take place after the meeting.
Things to remember.
It's a collaborative effort.
One of the most common standup meeting mistakes is making it a turn-based 1:1 chat with the physician or clinic manager. This completely defeats the purpose of the stand-up and should be avoided at all costs. This is valuable time that should be treated as collaborative effort for the whole team.
A good way to keep scrum meetings efficient is to establish a simple rule:
- Everything you say should be valuable to everyone in the room. Individual talks can happen at any time of the day aside from the stand up meeting.
Stick to a schedule and a routine
It would be easier if your huddles were done on a specific day and time. Always start your meeting at the set time. Those who miss it or who are late will feel guilty and try harder to make it to the next one.
Hiding work details
It's important that every team member is transparent in his or her work and gives accurate updates. Members need to disclose any issues so they can be resolved on time, without impacting the entire team's commitment to goals. The daily stand-up isn't just about answering the same three questions every day; it's a perfect forum for discussing any gaps in the team's commitment and understanding of requirements.