Last Updated on October 2, 2022 by Anna Baumann
How to Improve your Morning Huddles
Morning Huddles are very popular in the dental world. But I think they’re kind of like Brussels sprouts; you either love them or you hate them. Overall I’m pro-huddle. (A hard NO to the Brussels sprouts.) If nothing else, it’s always nice when we’re all in one place at the same time.
I’ve worked in offices where huddles were super fancy. One was like a full-on theatrical production. Every department played a part and it covered everything from production/collection goals to case acceptance stats. I’d sit at my desk preparing for it and think, “Do we really need all of this information coming at us every day at 7:00 am?” “Is anyone even listening?” Then I’d answer myself with a big, fat no.
Have you been questioning your morning huddle routine? If everyone isn’t getting what they need out of it, then try changing it up. Or just skip it, and replace it with something that’s a better fit for your office!
Tips to Improve your Morning Huddles
Streamline your agenda.
Does the information you cover make the day ahead, and only the day ahead run smoothly? That’s an important question because this is not a staff meeting or a post mortem of the day before. The purpose of a morning huddle is to plan your strategy for the rest of the day. Make sure that what you’re sharing is on point and communicates necessary and helpful information pertaining to that working day.
Use a huddle form.
It’s easier to prepare when you just have to plug information into set spaces. It also keeps your huddles consistent so everyone can depend on hearing what they need to know.
Make it the first thing you do.
The only thing that should happen before your morning huddle is a quick check of messages and emails. You’re discussing last-minute schedule changes and the Doctors may discuss what ops and materials they’ll use. So meet for your huddle before Assistants start setting up. This is your game plan for the day, so the day shouldn’t start until after it happens.
Alternatives to Morning Huddles
There are a lot of good reasons why some offices don’t huddle. Doctors might not want to pay staff to arrive early. Or maybe the doctors themselves don’t want to arrive early. It could also just be that staggered start times make it impossible for everyone to meet at the same time every day. Whatever the reason, even if you can’t organize a formal huddle you can still get your team the information they need.
Depending on what software you use, you might be able to get all of your huddle information right on the schedule screen. Most dental software has areas you can create for note blocks or task reminders. Some even let you write a fair amount right into the individual appointment blocks.
Enter notes for as much patient and schedule information as you can as the schedule develops, and instruct everyone who schedules appointments to do the same. For example, Hygienists can note patient concerns and what they need when they’re scheduling the next Recare. So it looks something like; no Cavitron/hates mint/BWX today. Administrative staff can add their two cents with; PDB (past due balance) or TX (for unscheduled treatment).
You’ll have to make a list of office abbreviations so everyone speaks the same language. But if your software allows for it, it’s a great alternative to morning huddles because:
- When it’s time to do the daily schedule audit, most of the information is all in the same place.
- Staff can scroll through days ahead of time so they get information with advance notice.
- Unlike a huddle that happens in one place and ends in the morning, this information stays where everyone is looking all day. They can review it the night before or in the morning, and then have access as the day goes along.
It works because everyone always has their faces in their phones. Complete your huddle form, and at the end of each day send it to everyone in an email. (Send it using your email encryption service and ensure that everyone has their own login.) They can read and re-read the information at their leisure. As extra insurance, you can print and hang it. Have a designated spot to tape it up like, where everyone clocks in, where they change clothes, or where they grab a coffee.
Go talk to people.
Just because you’re not talking to everyone at the same time, doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them. Just go back and have a five-minute chat in each area. I know that depending on the size of your office and staff, this might seem like too much running around. Still, try it. If you’re in a small office and only sharing the bullet points for that day, then it should be pretty quick. And there’s no rule that says the Office Manager has to be the only giver of information. If you’re in a large practice, assign a few people to help spread the news!
Change is hard even when we know it’s necessary. But the communication you have in the morning sets the tone for the whole rest of your day. What works great at your last office or the office down the street may not be the best plan for your current situation. Figure out what information helps your team the most, then choose the best way to communicate it. The most important thing to remember about Morning Huddles is that they’re about the information, not the presentation!
Stay organized at the office with a planner designed for the Dental Front Office!