Mastering the morning huddle

Mastering the morning huddle

The concept of the morning huddle has been around in medical and dental office circles for years. Practices that engage in this daily ritual, which is essentially a short, standup staff meeting with a focused agenda, say that it improves office function on a daily basis and boosts morale. If you’ve not yet tried out the morning huddle in your practice, give it a go using these tips.

Before you begin holding huddles, determine your purpose. Is your goal a review of the daily schedule to identify and thwart potential problems? Is the focus on how to maintain a calm atmosphere and deliver quality service and care, no matter how chaotic things get during the day? Is the objective to inspire and motivate staff? Or is your huddle intended to be an opportunity for team members to connect and determine how they can support one another throughout the day?

The purpose of your huddle will drive the agenda. For example, if the focus is on keeping patients and staff moving efficiently, then the main item for discussion each morning would be a review of the appointment schedule, looking for gaps and potential bottlenecks and assigning someone to make needed adjustments.

If your goal is to provide support and motivation, use the morning huddle to acknowledge staff members who went out of their way to support a co-worker or patient the day prior, share positive feedback received from patients and report on small successes. Something as simple as, “We were all out of here and on our way home at 5:15 yesterday,” or, “Mr. Gomez had tears in his eyes yesterday because he so appreciated how Carol took care of him,” can work wonders for staff morale. If your team doesn’t think it’s too hokey, take turns bringing in motivational quotes to read during each huddle.

On the logistics side, the morning huddle should be short (no more than 10 minutes) and it should be held in the same place each morning, and start on time. If your huddle is scheduled for 7:50 a.m. in the break room, starting at 7:52 and arbitrarily moving the gathering around for the convenience of one or two individuals will result in the process being taken less than seriously.

Keep in mind that the huddle is not the proper venue to discuss conflicts among staff, why collections are down, how to convince Dr. Smyth to get to the office on time, or solve other major practice problems. The huddle does not take the place of regular staff meetings or meetings between the practice administrator and managing partners.

And, finally, here’s a twist on the morning huddle: It doesn’t have to be held at the start of the day. Some practices find that huddling mid-day to regroup is even more effective than a morning meeting. Another option is to hold both a morning huddle and also a quick mid-day check in to get everyone on the same page and work out any kinks that may have emerged during the first half of the day.

If you think you don’t have time for a morning huddle, consider the possibility that investing 10 minutes a day has the potential to improve efficiency and effectiveness and provide a return on investment that far exceeds the cost of those few minutes.

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