Zoe Close explores the different ways you can improve communication in your practice…
Overcoming lack of face-to-face meetings
Over the last year there will have been times when you wouldn’t have been able to have all your team in one place due to Covid-19 restrictions.
During that time, it will have been difficult to communicate. Now things are very different and as restrictions are starting to relax, we’ve been able to see more people in a smaller space, whether that be socially or in the workplace.
However, there are still certain restrictions in place making it near on impossible to communicate with all of your team at the same time.
If that’s the case, then one good way of still being able to convey messages to your staff could be via an e-newsletter.
Late last year when we were still very much living under tight restrictions, Andrew Jowett, Clinical Director at Quay Dental, began sending out an e-newsletter. He said, ‘We were finding it difficult to schedule meetings that everyone could attend, so the newsletter was an alternative way of sharing information.
‘The newsletter gave us a chance to share changes being made in the practice, training opportunities, etc., and we included a mini survey of three questions where team members could feedback on what’s gone well, what’s been the biggest challenge and how we can help them.
‘It wasn’t something we thought about doing before COVID-19, but I was becoming more conscious of how much communication is a key part of being a successful practice.’
Online tools that make it simple
A newsletter doesn’t have to become an overly onerous task. You can make it as lengthy or as short as you like, although shorter newsletters sent out more regularly might be less fatiguing and have more engagement than a very long email.
There are online tools that can help to simplify the process, such as MailChimp, which is the one used by Andrew.
And after you’ve created the first one, you’ll probably find that you can use that as a template to create further newsletters and just alter the content as appropriate.
But what kind of content should you be including? Basically, anything that you think staff need to know about the practice, such as any changes to the way you’re working, positive stories, feedback from patients, upcoming courses, fun stuff that the team may be up to outside of the practice, etc.
If you’re still having online or physical team meetings, the newsletter can be a way to share information that you can then discuss in those meetings.
The impact in my practice
Andrew shared the effect a team e-newsletter has had in his practice, ‘Our team members are feeling that decisions aren’t just made by ‘the top’, they’re part of it and they have the opportunity to input.
‘Doing this via a newsletter also enables those people who might not feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting or being put on the spot to come up with ideas, to still share their thoughts.
‘They can also easily discuss any issues they have with systems or processes that might be causing delays and we’ve had some good suggestions for improvements in the practice.
‘If anything is raised during the weekly survey, the practice manager will follow those up and discuss them during one-to-one meetings with team members.’
Avoid frustration and build morale
Over the last year, you and your team may well have found yourselves needing to make changes to the way you work and often with little notice. It’s easy to see how this can lead to frustration, especially if people feel they’re not being kept in the loop about why or how these things are happening.
Keeping the lines of communication across the practice open and improving the opportunities for everyone to speak, be heard and feel involved in the direction of the business, can go a long way to building team morale and ensuring job satisfaction.