For my first post of 2023, I’m sharing some helpful slides I’ve used when presenting to new clinical leaders about the importance of knowing how to plan and run a good meeting.
To keep things short, let’s focus on five basic things:
- The importance of running a good meeting
- The most common types of meetings
- Common meeting problems
- Common meeting solutions
- Final tips.
As a clinical leader, running a meeting can sometimes feel a bit like herding cats. At any given meeting, you will no doubt have different types of people, with different roles, different experiences, different needs, and different ideas of what needs to be done.
So, if you’re planning and running the meeting, it’s your responsibility to anticipate these different experiences and needs and create a productive discussion that helps solve a defined problem or create a desired outcome. Especially in healthcare, failure to do this well can be very expensive, and potentially even create confusion.
Therefore, it’s helpful to keep in mind a list of things that meetings should — and should not — be.
Since the COVID pandemic, this has also created new challenges to running effective meetings, especially when using a video conferencing service. In-person meetings, online meetings, and hybrid meetings all have their own unique challenges and benefits, and so it’s helpful to plan carefully and — maybe even more importantly — practice running a meeting in each arrangement.
What are the most common reasons to have meetings in healthcare? They include education and information transfer, group decision-making, and collaborative development.
This leads us to the most common types of meetings in healthcare, which include the following:
- Regular department meetings – for routine education/information transfer purposes
- Emergent/urgent department/team meetings – for urgent education/information transfer purposes
- Committee meetings – Usually a group delegated by another group, to regularly review routing business items, pool expertise, and make decisions on behalf of an oversight group
- Planned project team meetings – Largely to pool expertise and share information related to a defined project
- Other common meetings (e.g., Morbidity and Mortality conferences, informal meetings to brainstorm and share information, meetings to review and discuss clinical literature, sales demonstrations, planning/strategy meetings, management/HR meetings, etc)
Without adequate planning and support, common problems can occur, including poorly defined (or lack of) charter or agenda; poorly documented minutes; incorrect stakeholders, which can affect decision-making; and inadequate attendance.
Fortunately, the solution to these problems is usually to have well-defined charters, agendas, and minutes.
Below are some of the data elements for a good committee or team charter:
Assuming you have a good committee charter to set your team in the right direction, with clear responsibility, authority, and metrics of success, the next steps is to make sure you have a solid agenda.
Some of the data elements contained in a good agenda can be found here:
Note that the agenda items typically divide into “old business” and “new business,” as recommended by Robert’s Rules of Order. This allows you to revisit previous topics and add new ones in an organized, predictable way.
Recording the activities, discussions, and actions of the committee will require careful documentation of minutes – typically recorded by your secretary or someone who has the training, experience, and ability to take minutes. Minutes are your official legal document, acknowledging who participated in the meeting, and what actions the committee took. They are so important that you will want to send them out to committee/team members, ask them to review them, ask for any edits/corrections, and bring back the final minutes for review and final approval at your next meeting.
This brings us to some of my closing tips for running a good meeting:
It’s very helpful for every clinical leader to familiarize yourself with Robert’s Rules, a well-known and helpful book on running all sorts of meetings, from small informal ones to large formal ones. In addition to meeting planning, you’ll learn about chairperson responsibilities, and the different types of motions and actions that help make meetings run smoother.
Using the sample charter, agenda, and minutes templates that I’ve shared above can help you run your meetings in an organized and productive way.
And now, for my final tips:
- Practice, practice, practice. Running a meeting or chairing a committee takes work and practice. (Don’t worry; everyone eventually learns this skill!)
- Learn from other Clinical Leaders. What worked? What didn’t?
- Remember that the future of healthcare is shared governance. Healthcare is a team sport; you can learn a lot from your fellow nursing, physician, pharmacy, or other clinical leaders.
Keep reading and keep learning!
Always keep in mind that good, well-planned, productive meetings give everyone confidence and clarity. And although it might take some work and planning, it’s completely achievable!