Skip to content
Back to Blog

717: 6 Steps to Leading Great Team Meetings – Robyn Theisen

If you think you don't have time for team meetings — think again. You don't have time not to do them! To highlight the importance of consistent communication, Kirk Behrendt brings back Robyn Theisen, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, to explain why meeting with your team is critical and how to do it in a productive way. Start communicating better so you can function better! To learn how, listen to Episode 717 of The Best Practices Show!

Learn More About Robyn:

Learn More About ACT Dental:

More Helpful Links for a Better Practice & a Better Life:

Main Takeaways:

  • Have team meetings every week, on the same day, at the same time.
  • You're all working toward the same goal. Have one another’s backs.
  • Create an environment of vulnerability-based trust.
  • Encourage team buy-in, not consensus.
  • Build a system for accountability.
  • Proactively mine for conflict.


“I don't know that there's a dental team out there that does not say communication is one of the biggest challenges. And when you look at how dental offices function, you have people who rarely see each other in a day. You have a fluid schedule, and people going in all different directions. So, when do you talk, or when do you communicate? It goes back to the team meeting to make the communication more consistent. The better you communicate, the better you function as a team.” (2:23—2:50)

“We recommend having [team meetings] be the same day at the same time each week. Mornings typically work best. It allows you to start on time and end on time. It doesn't interfere as much with patient care, and you get a fresh team that's ready to hit the ground running and make the most of the time you have together.” (3:51—4:09)

“Going back to how fluid our schedules are and all the different things that happen in a day in the different departments, [meetings] once a month is not frequent enough. There are too many things that happen. It's too long to follow up on things to make sure that we did what we said we would do. So, having that weekly consistency and that weekly cadence keeps us all accountable to each other. It keeps the communication intentional. There are so many advantages to doing it on a weekly basis.” (5:17—5:41)

“Have an environment of vulnerability-based trust within your office. We talk about this a lot, and it's not something that happens overnight. It is something that you're intentional about. So, vulnerability-based trust is when the team is open enough and feels confident enough in their co-workers, boss, leaders, all of those types of things, that they will have an opinion or be able to share what that is and know that they'll be supported and or heard. So, different from predictive trust, which is what a lot of teams are used to, or what they think that they have when they've developed trust. An example of that would be, today we set up this time for us to get on this podcast, and you trusted that I would be here at that time. Vulnerability-based trust would be that I know we can share our feelings, and we can share our thoughts about different things together, come up with a consensus, and come up with what we agree together.” (8:19—9:17)

“As a leader, the best way to start [vulnerability-based trust] is to be vulnerable yourself and to show, as leaders, we don't know the answers to everything. We aren't expected to. So, being able to be vulnerable yourself, ‘That's a great idea. I had no idea. I did that wrong.’ Whatever that sounds like as a leader to really show your team that you're vulnerable too, that modeling is the best way to bring that out in others.” (10:15—10:38)

“Conflict and confrontation are not the same. The number of times that I go into a team that say, ‘Oh, we don't have conflict here. We all get along. Everything is great,’ to me, my response to that is that somebody is not telling the truth, because I don't know a group of people — family, friends, sports teams — there's not a group of people that everybody agrees on everything. We're not supposed to. And the best way to be able to solve problems and to take us from good to great or solve that next challenge that's in front of us is to hear from all kinds of people. We all come at it from a different perspective. As a leader, I want to hear what other people have to say. Sometimes, we aren't going to agree — and that's okay. It doesn't have to be confrontational.” (10:49—11:34)

“[Conflict] is almost something that teams intentionally avoid. And when you get that vulnerability-based trust and you get better about having the conversations — like you're saying, it's productive. Don't avoid it. Let's really find out what people think so you can be productive in the solutions that you put into place. If only half of the people are giving you their opinion and we put a solution in place, it's likely not going to stick or change. We're going to come back to that same problem over and over again.” (13:01—13:28)

“Encourage buy-in and not necessarily consensus. So, there's a difference. We talk about the more teams weigh in, the more they buy in. Most people having an opinion or having an idea about something doesn't have to lead to consensus. And where doctors don't like conflict, oftentimes it’s hard for them to be the one to be the tiebreaker. Ultimately, they're the leader. There's a leader, and somebody has got to make a decision. So, having everyone have an opinion is great. It doesn't mean that there's going to be a consensus on an opinion. And I find with leaders that there are situations where consensus is what they're going to go on, and then there are situations where they're going to make a decision. And at the beginning of the conversation, if they can differentiate those two, it helps us to have healthy conflict rather than people getting angry. If, as a leader, I say, ‘I want your opinion on this. And ultimately, I'm going to take into consideration what you say, and I'm going to make a decision,’ then you're laying it out up front. It gives people the space to be able to say what they want to say. And then, essentially, they know that you're going to make the decision for them.” (13:57—15:09)

“It's the leader's job to make some of those hard decisions and tell the team where they're going.” (16:56—17:01)

“I think this concept is scary to people, the accountability piece. I think accountability, first of all, starts with being clear in what we're being accountable to. So, data would be one of them, and action items. What are we being held accountable for? So, being very clear about those things is the first piece of it. And the more we hold people accountable, the less we actually have to do. I find in dental offices where they aren't having meetings or there isn't a structure to things, it becomes a free-for-all and there's never accountability. So, then that becomes hard. Once teams and organizations start to see that, ‘Here's the expectation. You are going to be held accountable to it,’ the less you have to formally do it because they know what's expected of them and they fall in line themselves. They follow those expectations, and so there isn't as much of holding people accountable.” (17:10—18:05)

“Similar to conflict, [accountability] doesn't have to be a negative. It really just means we all know what's expected, and we know we want a predictable outcome. So, it doesn't have to be a negative.” (19:49—19:58)

“[Create] a culture of having one another's backs . . . This is a cultural thing. So, it's creating that culture of knowing what's expected of each other, knowing how we engage with each other, what's important to the practice. And knowing that, at the end of the day, we're all here to support each other. We're here for our patients, to provide them with the greatest experience, and we're all going to hold each other accountable and have each other's backs. If something falls off and we need to redirect, we're all here to help each other. We're all working for the same goal.” (20:04—20:37)

“What I hear most often is time. It's, ‘We don't have the time to do it.’ And I would say you don't have the time not to. I have yet to see a team that has implemented the weekly meeting that says, ‘This is a waste of time. They don't like it. They've accomplished nothing.’ I've never heard anybody say that. So, it's time well spent.” (23:13—23:36)

“As the leader goes, goes the team. So, it's the direction of the leader, the vision of the leader. What do they want? All eyes are on you for how important this is and what kind of culture and what kind of team you want. And so, it's something really to consider, how you want the team to be and how you want your future to be with the practice.” (26:12—26:32)


0:00 Introduction.

2:15 Why team meetings are important.

3:24 Strategically schedule team meetings.

4:09 Why meetings should be done on a weekly basis.

8:15 Have an environment of vulnerability-based trust.

10:40 Proactively mine for conflict.

13:53 Encourage buy-in, not consensus.

17:02 Have a structure for holding people accountable.

20:00 Create a culture of having one another’s backs.

22:44 You don't have time not to do team meetings.

26:08 Final thoughts.

Robyn Theisen Bio:

Robyn Theisen brings an entire life and legacy of dental experience to the team and every team with which she works as the daughter and sister of dentists. With almost 20 years of experience in dentistry, her roles ranged from practice management to operations at Patterson Dental to coaching teams. Robyn’s passion is empowering teams to realize that they can dramatically impact the lives of the people they serve by implementing skills and systems to remove barriers to life-changing dental treatment. She has done it for decades and does it every day with dental teams.

Outside of coaching, she enjoys time with her husband, Rob, and two daughters, Emerson and Ruby. She loves traveling, music, fitness, and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans.