Oral Health Group

Cancel Your Staff Meeting – Have a Team Huddle Instead!

February 23, 2022
by Michelle Aubé Simmonds, RDH, maxill


Organizing the Organization

A team that performs well is a team that is organized. In a busy dental office, is there time to organize the organization? Professional and personal lives alike, one must make the time. An office with well-polished systems and a high-performance team that can make things happen through the thick and thin does not happen by sheer chance. The leaders of such teams have seen the value of organizing regular team meetings. Keeping in mind, a team meeting is not a staff meeting. The word staff meeting implies staffing problems, it has labour relations issues stamped across its agenda in red ink! Swap out the word “staff” for “team”. “Team meetings” sounds (and is) like an exercise on building the skills a team requires for problem-solving together.

Finding Solutions

Can a team meeting discuss work related issues? Absolutely, but the leader must step aside. A good leader does not take center stage, instead, gives the spotlight to the people knee deep in the issue, as those are the people with the effective solutions. The famous phrase “this would work better if ….” The “if” is already a known factor by the team. The team leader needs to listen and ask the ‘if’ to the team. This approach is empowering, constructive, and motivating for the team. How many times have team members left a staff meeting feeling defeated and completely unmotivated? Problems and change are inevitable but frame them as an exercise to find solutions versus a dumping of issues.

Sports Huddles vs Team Huddles – They Aren’t That Different

Let us go back to the terminology of the title of the meeting and equate it to sports teams. I will draw a parallel to my son’s high school and competitive football team. Huddle captains are selected throughout the season rotating through the team. Three things are happening:

  1. Leadership is exercised by all, delivering empowerment.
  2. The huddle leader experiences a basic human need of self-worth and belonging.
  3. The huddle is quick and aims to solve an issue ASAP with a strong solution delivering focus, trust, and collaboration.

So, I propose staff meetings are never called staff meetings. Should they be called team meetings? It’s better than staff meetings and it’s an evolvement in the right direction. How about calling them team huddles? Many dental offices do a morning team huddle and take turns as to who is the host. Team Huddle: the name exudes positive energy! It screams loud, let’s all get together and share ideas, make this day amazing, have a few laughs while sipping on coffee, and start the day on an uplifting note. What happens at a morning team huddle? Three things are happening:

  1. Leadership is exercised by all delivering empowerment.
  2. The huddle leader experiences a basic human need of self-worth and belonging.
  3. The huddle is quick and aims to solve an issue ASAP with a strong solution delivering focus, trust, and collaboration.

Hmm sounds familiar.

To Sum It All Up

Take the time to organize the organization with team huddles as part of every working day. Everyone’s time is valuable. Show appreciation of the team’s time by including the huddles in the teams’ paid time. Schedule a morning huddle or, at minimum, begin quarterly team huddles. Monthly team huddles are ideal as the agenda for discussion will be more directed on what is currently unfolding with a shorter list of items to tackle. If teenage boys playing football have captured the essence of the team huddle, I believe highly educated dental professionals can do it. Now go cancel your team meeting and schedule your first team huddle! Go, Go, Go!!!


About the Author

Michelle is a Dental Hygiene Speaker, Consultant, and Educator with over 21 years of experience as an RDH and 4 years as a CDA. Michelle continues to practice clinically, teaches both clinical dental hygiene and practice management at Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario, and is a maxill Dental Hygiene Educator.


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