There it is. Another meeting has been added to your calendar. Aren’t you excited? Probably not. But the fact is that meetings, when done well, are an effective and powerful tool to help your hospital achieve all their patient care goals. But are your meetings running well? They should be. In fact, the same concern we put into the quality of our patient care should apply to our concern for the quality of our meeting. And yet mistakes in meetings abound! Think of your meetings as a microcosm of your organizational culture. And consistently bad meetings are a telltale sign of poor hospital leadership. In this post I will share some of the hospital meeting mistakes you should try to avoid.
Hospital meetings are expensive too, which is just one more reason to be sure they are done well. When you add up the collective payroll of everyone sitting around the table (or on the Zoom call), the cost of our meetings can be staggering. Therefore we need to do our meetings well. Today I’m going to share with you 10 mistakes to avoid when running your hospital meeting.
10 Hospital Meeting Tips
1. Start On Time
Starting a meeting on time shows respect for the individuals who are there and is good business meeting etiquette. Routinely waiting for latecomers to arrive before starting implies that wasting a few minutes is of no consequence, and tends to devalue the time that others have invested in your meeting. Just doing this will put you well on the way to avoiding mistakes in your hospital meetings.
2. Have An Agenda And Stick To It
An agenda forces you to use the time wisely and ideally gives others a chance to prepare if needed. While writing and distributing an agenda takes time and effort, it is generally repaid with a more productive and efficient meeting.
3. Get feedback From All
Some team members will be naturally more reluctant to speak up, but it is the responsibility of the meeting organizer or chairperson to ensure that everyone at the meeting is able to contribute. If someone is not contributing, it might be that the agenda item does not pertain to them, and maybe they should not have been on the attendee list to start with. Good business meeting etiquette may mean asking some people directly for their thoughts and perspective on the topic.
4. Invite All the Right People
Be sure to have the right people at the table. One of the greatest mistakes made in hospital meetings is the absence of important decision-makers or leaders. I can’t tell you how many meetings I have been at where the organizer forgot to invite a key stakeholder. The meeting becomes a waste of everyone’s time, and the person who was left out could be hurt or offended at the oversight.
5. Invite ONLY the Right People
Does everyone need to be at every meeting? Probably not. Respect for other people sometimes means NOT inviting them to a meeting that they really cannot contribute to. Updating them by email may make more sense.
6. Don’t Move or Cancel Them Often
Once a meeting has been scheduled, you should assume that the attendees have made some adjustments to their schedule in order to attend. Honor that by not constantly moving meetings around simply to suit your own needs and preferences. Sure. There are times when moving a meeting cannot be avoided. But try not to make it a habit, as this meeting mistake can cost you credibility as a leader and organizer.
7. DO Cancel if Necessary
About 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting I got an email from the organizer apologizing that he needed to cancel. But the reason is that he simply could not get the info he needed which was critical to the discussion we were going to have. I am grateful he chose to cancel, rather than making me join a meeting where nothing productive was going to happen. That was good business meeting etiquette.
8. Be in the Moment
Throughout the course of the meeting all participants should be engaged and focused. Pulling out our cell phones has become so routine that hardly anyone thinks anything of it anymore. But treat this like a symptom. It is telling you that the content of the meeting is either boring or not relevant. Constantly getting up to take phone calls during a meeting is generally to be discouraged as well. Was the call that important that it couldn’t wait?
9. End on Time (Early if Possible)
Don’t allow your meetings to go over time. This is selfish. In fact, if at all possible, try to end early. I suspect we have all done it from time to time, but routinely doing so is just a subtle way of saying that “my meeting is more important than anything else you have going on.” It is just rude, and bad etiquette for meetings.
10. Provide Follow-up Expectations and Timeline
After a meeting be sure that someone is able to distribute the minutes promptly, or at least provide a written communication of the action items. People should have a clear understanding of what is expected, and written details are the best way to do this.
So there you have it, 10 important hospital meeting mistakes that you should now know how to avoid! If you have enjoyed these “mistakes to avoid” you might also like this article on “behaviors to avoid.”
By the way, if you take notes during meetings, I highly recommend the reMarkable tablet for note taking. A colleague of mine uses it and just loves it!
Last modified: May 7, 2023