Posted August 15, 2012

Running Effective Department Meetings

By Quint Studer

We spend a lot of time in meetings. In fact, our research has found that some of us spend as much as 50% of our time just attending meetings. While they are a great way to keep teams connected, wouldn't it be great if we could structure these meetings to be more efficient and effective and ultimately, give us more time back in the day?

In our work with organizations across the nation, we've developed several tactics to use prior to, during and after meetings to improve the flow, increase the impact and reduce wasted time.  We've shared these with you below…

Prior to your meetings:

  • Make your meetings collaborative. About 72 hours before the meeting, send a note to department leaders asking them for agenda items or topics they would like to cover. Ask if they have any questions they would like answered or updates to share from previous meetings. This allows the opportunity to address topics during the meeting as others may have the same questions.
  • Identify standard agenda items. Create a standard agenda template that has key focus areas to cover during each meeting. Some sample agenda items include wins and losses, reviewing organizational and department goals, updates on patient satisfaction or any standard topics we need to address.
  • Send the agenda in advance of the meeting. We recommend sending the agenda at least 24 hours in advance. That way, attendees have the opportunity to review the topics, prepare to offer feedback and think of questions ahead of time. At Studer Group®, we structure our agenda's by pillar or organizational goals to ensure we cover all relevant topics and stay focused on our goals and mission.

During the meetings:

  • Remain focused on the Mission, Vision and Values. By starting and ending each meeting with the mission, vision and values, we remind ourselves that we are all here for a common purpose. This is a good time to reward high performing departments and discuss results achieved thus far. Also, discuss what the organization is doing to stay ahead of the curve in topics like Value Based Purchasing and explain why it's important.
  • Review department and company goals.  Reward and recognize those departments that are meeting goals and are therefore driving the organizations mission.
  • Provide specific takeaways. In my previous insight, I talked about the importance of cascading a consistent message across the organization. By providing specific takeaways, whether by PowerPoint slides, a flip ‘n tell or just bulleted information, we can ensure that department leaders are taking the same, standardized message back to staff.
  • Evaluate the meeting. Each attendee can complete an evaluation, whether it's written or verbal, to rate the effectiveness of the meeting. The evaluation can include rating the meeting on a scale of very poor to excellent, what their top 3 takeaways were and any questions they feel were unanswered.

Post meeting:

  • Keep actions items top of mind. It's easy to get so focused on one topic during meetings that we forget other questions we may have. By following up to ensure action items are completed, we can also answer additional questions, discuss any urgent needs and receive suggestions for further improve meetings. This way, we don't have to wait until the next meeting to address issues or barriers.

Meetings are a great time to share wins and best practices. The most successful meetings I've attended ended with a story, video or quote that connected back to why we do this work every day. There is no greater feeling for a team than hearing from a patient or other department how they made an impact. We feel a renewed sense of purpose and it reignites our passion for the work we do. By applying these suggestions, we can attend more efficient and effective meetings and can leave with a standardized message to communicate across the organization. And, it will likely even save you time.

We are always looking for best practices to share in our work across the nation. If you have suggestions or tips for running effective meetings at your organization, please email me directly at quint@studergroup.com.


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