Two Types of Meetings that Will Change Your Dental Office Culture (and how to implement them)

None of us enjoy delivering a Performance Improvement Plan or are able to take the time for regular one on one meetings. In many offices it is the task of the Office Manager or the Owner to complete these tasks. Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) can be uncomfortable to deliver as you are pointing out what the team member is doing wrong in detail and asking for a change in behavior. At a One on One meeting you are asking for feedback on the office culture and the internal workings of the office, this can be uncomfortable to hear as a leader for the team. There are distinct differences between these meetings that I would like to discuss today. 

One on One meetings are best completed on a regular basis, for some offices that means once a month, once a quarter or once a year usually six months after a performance review. The purpose of these meetings is not for discipline but as a way for the team member to provide feedback on the office culture, environment and daily workings. We very often have brief informal conversations in the hallway about the office yet it is better to formalize this practice and have a set format to follow that will allow for open discussion. 

Firstly, you want to set a formal meeting time for your One on One meeting so that the team member feels prepared. In advance also provide them with the questions you will be asking so that they will have time to prepare their answers. I suggest that you provide a paper with the following questions so they can write out their answers if they would like. The first question to be asked is on a scale of 1 to 10 how do you feel things are going in the office? This is a very open-ended question and allows the team to think about the office as a whole, if you have had specific issues you would like to follow up on you could tailor that question with some specific details. Allow the team member to give their answer and then ask why they gave that score. Once they have explained their rating, ask them what could be done to bring that score to a ten. You will be amazed at some of the creative ideas that may come out of asking this question If a team members answers 10 from the start then you will need to dig a bit deeper to illicit an answer that may be more truthful, some people will answer 10 just because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or don’t care enough to make the office better, do the work and find out what their true feelings are.

Secondly, you will want to comment on their suggestions at the end, let them know that they are insightful, if there is something you can commit to right away in their suggestions let them know and if there are suggestions that are long term decisions or perhaps decisions that may not be right for the office then let them know that you will keep these on the drawing board for future consideration. Try not to shut them down completely, let them know what may have to be considered to make that suggestion happen. 

A PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) is used to correct a behavior or attitude that doesn’t fit in with your office culture or protocols. A PIP is best delivered close to the time that the behavior is happening so that you are clearly able to point out all the details, a PIP also needs to be scheduled so that the team member isn’t feeling ambushed. You need to have proper documentation for a PIP meeting. The documentation should include:

  • The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the following:
  • The impact this circumstance has had on the patients, team, practice or dentist:
  • The protocols to be applied to this situation are as follows and have been reviewed in detail:
  • Corrective Steps that the team member will take following this meeting to reduce the likelihood of occurrence of this behavior reoccurring:
  • Any steps that the practice will need to take to support the team member in correcting this behavior.

You will also want to set a date for another meeting to check in on the progress and corrective steps that were decided upon. The team member will be required to sign this report along with the owner or the Office Manager. The team member is provided a copy of the meeting notes as well as a copy entered into their employee record. 

These are two very different types of meetings to have with team members and if both are successful in their delivery, you will find that each type of meeting will make it’s on positive mark on your practice.

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