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How to Run an Effective Morning Huddle for Your Dental Team

By Planet DDS
April 21, 2021

“Emoji” (pronounced “eh-moji”) is a Japanese word meaning picture-character. It’s a picture that takes the place of a single letter or character. Depending on your line of work, you may be familiar with other Japanese terms that have made their way into our vocabulary. Developers use the “kanban” method of streamlining team collaboration. In operations, many companies adopt the “kaizen” philosophy of making small, continuous improvements, most notably employed by Toyota as one of their core philosophies. Another indispensable tool that Japanese businesses use is the “chorei.” The chorei (pronounced “cho-ray”) is a short morning meeting held every day, designed to boost company morale and increase productivity.

In dentistry, we call this: the morning huddle.

So, what makes the chorei and morning huddle meetings so valuable that they should be held every morning? And how can such a short meeting have such a big impact on your dental practice?

What is a Morning Huddle in Dentistry?

Morning huddles are brief meetings held every morning in a dental practice before patients arrive. The meetings are not meant to be long and are typically concluded within 10-15 minutes. Despite how brief morning huddles are, they are so effective that it’s become a deeply ingrained routine for many successful dental practices. Topics covered generally include the day’s schedule, successes, goals, and obstacles.

The Power of the Morning Huddle

What makes these short morning meetings so powerful? In the chorei meeting, the entire organization meets, they go over the company motto, and managers from each department go over their work for the day. The goal is to align the entire team with goals for the day as well as long-term company goals.

In much the same way, morning huddles are meant to bring the team together before patients arrive to align your staff with production goals for the day as well as bring visibility to the overall schedule for the office.

“Having worked for many years as an operations manager in several dental practices, I’ve seen first-hand, the positive effect of holding morning huddle meetings. From boosting team morale to finding new opportunities to drive more revenue, dental practices of all sizes can greatly benefit from holding effective morning huddle meetings,” said Xavier Gardner, Director of Account Management at Planet DDS.

Boosting Morale Every Day

Can you really boost team morale by investing just 10-15 minutes a day for a morning huddle? Actually, yes. You can.

Gathering with your colleagues once a day without interruption is not something that can happen by chance, especially once patients arrive. Morning huddles provide the necessary time that your staff needs to check in as a team. Done well, morning huddles also create opportunities for collaboration. By identifying any roadblocks before the day starts, colleagues can help each other find ways to make the day go more smoothly for one another.

Morning huddles also provide an important forum to recognize wins. Think of what a positive impact this makes for team members to be regularly recognized and congratulated on successes, big or small. Lastly, by identifying individual and shared goals, your team members will have a better idea of the big picture and how they can contribute to the overall success of your practice.

What to Avoid For a Successful Morning Huddle

Because these are short meetings, if someone arrives 10 minutes late, they’ve missed more than half the meeting. So, make sure your team knows that they’re expected to be on time. You should also stay as disciplined as possible not to exceed the meeting length, aiming for no longer than 15 minutes each day.

Encourage attendees to stay on topic to avoid running over or wasting time. Setting a brief agenda also helps everyone stay focused. The morning huddle is also not the appropriate time to go into a deep dive with team members who may not be reaching their production goals. Reviewing goals should be done on a high-level basis, and separate one-on-one meetings can be scheduled to help team members develop  a game plan to reach their goals.

Helping Staff Reaching Production Goals

But, what if an individual on the team is struggling to reach their goals? Morning huddles are a great time to review production goals, but as you do so, it’s also a time to remind clinicians that these goals are within reach. You can then set aside time to develop strategies to help them be successful in reaching their goals.

Perhaps a hygienist is falling short of their goal. Are there any adjunctive therapies such as laser, scaling and planing, Arestin, irrigation, or fluoride varnish that patients might need? Could that hygienist make it a regular practice to offer these therapies and work on how best can they present these treatment plans to increase acceptance?

Educating patients about treatment plans help empower them to make informed decisions about accepting treatment while they’re in the office. If a patient declines, perhaps the hygienist can get a commitment that they will get the treatment at the next appointment. Then, the hygienist can put a note in the chart that they were recommended the adjunctive therapy and will complete it at the next appointment.

Perhaps it’s worth investing in printed brochures about adjunctive therapies for those patients who initially decline to help educate them on the importance of adjunctive therapy for their oral health. Implementing best practices like these can go a long way to increase revenue for your practice.

How to Host an Effective Morning Huddle

Every dental office will have its own approach to the morning huddle that works the best for their practice. Here are several suggestions on what metrics you can review for your morning huddles.

  • Review the previous day’s schedule and production to celebrate successes and uncover any opportunities for improvement
  • Review today’s schedule to make sure the team has an overall picture of the day
    • Is it a slow day? Could the front office contact patients who are due for treatment? Can your hygienists suggest adjunctive therapy to make better use of time and increase production?
    • Identify opportunities for same-day production.
    • Are there a few longer appointments that should be reconfirmed by the front desk?
  • Review tomorrow’s schedule
    • Are there any gaps in the schedule that can be filled?
    • Perhaps a patient is coming in with a significant amount left in their dental benefits for the year. Do they have family members who have outstanding treatment? Why not try to schedule them for tomorrow?
  • Review overall performance and production goals
  • Break things up: rotate among team members so everyone can have turns leading the morning huddle

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