Episode 66 – How to Hold a Meeting that Your Veterinary Team Will Love featuring Dr. Kim Harmon – PART 2

the whole veterinarian meetings 101 downloadable summary

We break down the essential questions you need to ask before planning a meeting for your veterinary team: why is it taking place, who should be present, when should it happen, and what outcomes you’re striving for. With a focus on setting expectations, starting and ending on time, and keeping your meetings on track, we guide you through pre-meeting preparations, welcoming and connecting, engaging with participants, and ensuring a productive conclusion. Learn how to make the most of your workplace meetings and share this episode with friends or colleagues who could benefit from these game-changing strategies.

Stacey CordivanoHost00:07

Do you feel like it’s possible to find joy and positive change within veterinary medicine? Are you looking for a community that’s striving for fulfillment rather than perfection? Hey there, i’m Dr Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the lives that we’ve created. On this podcast, i will speak with outside-of-the-box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day-to-day lives. Welcome to the whole veterinarian.


Hey there, dr Kim Harmon and I are back for part two of our talk on how to plan for and run effective meetings. If you haven’t listened to part one, i’d highly suggest checking that out first. These are meant to be super actionable, super informative episodes. I hope they are. Please let us know what you think and we hope you enjoy. Okay, so let’s move into things you need to think about before actually having one of these types of meetings. If you’re proactively planning an intentional meeting that you want to bring value to your team because that’s the goal here we want to learn how to bring value to the team through this meeting what do we need to be asking ourselves or whoever’s planning this meeting?

Kim HarmonGuest01:42

I think there’s five key questions. The first one is why. Why are you having this meeting? I check myself with this, or get checked by it, often. What is my goal? Why am I taking people’s time? What do I want to get out of this? How do I want people to feel? What is the desired outcome When people walk out of this meeting? why did I pull them in here and what do we want to walk away with?


Again, our time is a finite resource, so if I’m going to pull on people’s time, i really want to get the most out of that time, and I think the why should be communicated to people ahead of the meeting. It could be in the form of an agenda, but some communication to people. We’re having a staff meeting to update everyone on some new ideas and some new systems that are in place. We’re having a doctor meeting to connect about our schedule and discuss these other five items So that people know what they’re walking into. It takes some stress off of people walking in. You know what the rules are. You know what the boundaries are. This is why I’m here.

Stacey CordivanoHost02:52

This is where I’m going to focus my brain power for the next, however long, and helps you to be prepared with valuable answers or thoughts.

Kim HarmonGuest02:59

Totally And gives whoever’s organizing the meeting some focus too. to rein in.

Stacey CordivanoHost03:04

Yeah, i think a lot of meeting leaders could use to be reined in Myself included sometimes Awesome.

Kim HarmonGuest03:11

Okay. Next question I would say is the who. So we first talked about the why. Why am I there? Who else needs to be there?


Think about the decision makers, the people that have necessary information, the people that are going to be impacted. Whose feedback do you want in that room? Whose perspective might you not be hearing from that you want to hear from? Get those ideas in the room. Think about who has influence. If you’re talking about change, we all have them, those people that may not have the title but they have the influence. So you might want them in the room if you want them to buy into what, if there’s especially if there’s a change, to get their voice in there from the start. That’s a good point I would also think about when you think about the who. Who’s leading the meeting? It might not be me, i might be facilitating, i might be handing that off to somebody, but there should be, i think, someone that’s taking ownership to just start that meeting off and keep steering it in the right direction. A third question I would suggest asking is when does it need to happen and for how long?

Stacey CordivanoHost04:22

Probably shorter than anything I don’t know, not always true, not always true, yeah.

Kim HarmonGuest04:28

It is that fine balance right of like. You don’t want to pull on people’s time too much, but you want to be able to have the space and the time you need to achieve your goals for having the meeting in the first place.

Stacey CordivanoHost04:39

Again, really important to know what your goal is right to then Totally.

Kim HarmonGuest04:44

Totally. The why just feeds into everything else. That can’t overstate how important figuring out for yourself the why and the goal of the meeting. We’ve talked about already how short we all are on time, so be clear about how long this meeting is going to be. Again, to set the expectations for the people you’re pulling in. Starting on time is a biggie, ending on time also huge. Being able to stop the meeting, which we do regularly, if we don’t get through the whole agenda OK, we decided. We agreed when we set the meeting it was going to end at 9 o’clock. Everybody booked their schedule for the meeting to end at 9 o’clock. The meeting needs to end at 9 o’clock.

Stacey CordivanoHost05:26

And doing yeah, go ahead. Oh, i was just going to say something else to consider at the start of the meeting would be acknowledging that you may end up interrupting people to keep the meeting on time. I think having that expectation that someone who rambles a lot might get cut off is hard to do in the moment but can be really helpful to keep meetings on task That’s a really great idea for sure.

Kim HarmonGuest05:50

Set those boundaries from the get-go, those expectations. Yeah, i heard this analogy recently that I loved about that, which is the altitude of your meeting. So when people go into the weeds, if you’re looking at things from a very high up perspective and you’re talking about big ideas, and then you get a comment about, well, how is that really going to roll out Or how are we going to actually execute that, it’s just like you just went down in your altitude And then you go up and down, and up and down And you end up pulling a lot of energy and all of that up and down. If you can try to keep people on the same level, this is a detail meeting. This is a big picture meeting.

Stacey CordivanoHost06:30

Yeah, that’s really good. I like that, considering I like to go on the weeds a lot, i like that. I’m just going to have an altitude safe, word in all of my meetings.

Kim HarmonGuest06:40

Well, it could be altitude right, Like that’s not non-confrontational. Let’s check our altitude.

Stacey CordivanoHost06:45

Yeah, no, i like that, I really like that. That’s great.

Kim HarmonGuest06:49

Thinking about when does the meeting need to be and for how long. If you do find yourself having an epic meeting, so something that’s longer than 90 minutes, or in our world, for instance, our mega meeting that went all day, make sure that you have breaks. They’re important. People need a minute to take some time to zone out. There might need to be refreshments, drinks, snacks, meals. These are the things that are going to keep people engaged for a longer meeting. If you need their brain power, feed them, Yes.

Stacey CordivanoHost07:19

Snacks are very important.

Kim HarmonGuest07:23

Next question where will it be? So now, we all are used to using Zoom. We use that regularly. We have partner calls, partner meetings every week. Our people are in different geographic places so we can hop on a Zoom. Now we’re also used to it that, even if many of us are in our Connecticut location, we all go into our offices and we’re still on our individual screen But the where you know. Also, if you’re trying to do a team building exercise, consider doing something off-site. Just lets people’s brains take a bit of a different break. When you fully pull them out of the space of work can be nice for those one-on-ones too. You know, if you grab dinner together, it sets a different tone.

Stacey CordivanoHost08:06

A different tone, yep, a little more even playing field, potentially also Totally.

Kim HarmonGuest08:11

Totally. I hate having meetings with somebody in my office, across my desk. That feels not conversational, that feels not the vibe that I would want to get across to somebody. I’d rather sit next to them. We’ve also done a walk. We have a driveway that encircles our practice and I’ve literally walked with people around there.

Stacey CordivanoHost08:33

Yeah, i think there’s some research, especially on feedback in meetings that walk like movement is helpful for everyone to digest and get negative or positive feedback. Yeah interesting?

Kim HarmonGuest08:43

Yeah, for sure, and I do think of it when sometimes, if it’s a harder conversation too, can help.

Stacey CordivanoHost08:50

Anything else we need to think through when considering.

Kim HarmonGuest08:53

Yeah, in fact, i would say the number five question is what else These sometimes intangibles about a meeting that you might not think of right off the bat? One of the simplest, i think, is do you have enough chairs? It sounds so almost silly, but how would you feel if you walked into a meeting and there was no chair left for you?

Stacey CordivanoHost09:17

Yeah, not good.

Kim HarmonGuest09:18

Would you feel welcome? No, not at all, if you feel like somebody wanted your thoughts and opinions. It’s little, but it’s not. No, yeah, no, it’s not little in actuality. Yeah, Ambient temperature that’s hit us a couple of times, when we had a meeting outside in the summer and it was very hot.

Stacey CordivanoHost09:36

My thought immediately goes to air conditioning inside and dying and wanting to leave because I’m so cold. But yes, i see the opposite.

Kim HarmonGuest09:44

Yeah, it thinks to think about. It’s those details. We talked about refreshments to having snacks available for some of your longer meetings, even in doctor meetings. One thing I’ve noticed if we try to have them at the end of the day, which we usually have ours in the morning, but when we’ve had them at the end of the day, having even just a little snack there for people, it just I don’t know it does something, takes away that hunger need if people just need something and I think helps people focus.

Stacey CordivanoHost10:13

Yeah, i can’t say anything more than 20 minutes and he’s a snack, but that’s just me, okay. So we were talking about questions to ask yourself when planning a meeting, so let’s just recap those for me, kim.

Kim HarmonGuest10:25

Yeah. So five questions to think about. First, why Why are you having the meeting? Biggest. One, most important take the most time there. Two who needs to attend? Who do you want in the room? Three when does it need to happen And for how long? For where will it be? And then five the what else.

Stacey CordivanoHost10:48

Great, okay, i love that. I think those are all so important and I know for myself I’m definitely not taking those all into consideration each time I have a meeting, let alone all the little meetings that probably happen throughout my week. Okay, so if we have done that work, asked ourselves a lot of those planning questions how do we construct an actual plan for the meeting that will help us get the most value?

Kim HarmonGuest11:16

So agenda planning, especially if you’re the one leading the meeting, I think is key to help keep things on point and focused once you get in the room. Everything we’ve talked about so far is like the prep before you get in the room. So now you’re in the room, How do you execute that in the moment? So think of there being four key considerations a welcome and connect, discovering what’s known, engaging the other people that are there with you and attending to the end. I’ll step back and break those down.

Stacey CordivanoHost11:54

Yeah, so what is welcome and connect involved?

Kim HarmonGuest11:57

We might not even be in the room there yet. It’s that pre-meeting and as you start the meeting moment. So what do people need to know ahead of time? Do you need people to come prepared with things? Do you need people to prep so that you have what you need at the start of the meeting? Are you clear with people about what that is? I need you to have looked at the month schedule to know when you need time off so that we can execute on figuring out our on-call schedule when we’re there together.

Stacey CordivanoHost12:25

I’m trying to think of meetings that I attend. I don’t think that hardly ever happens in meetings that I attend And it would really be helpful. I’m a planner, i probably also need to consider that for my own meetings. But yeah, ok. So welcome and connect is a little bit more about prepping, helping attendees be prepared and setting expectations correctly.

Kim HarmonGuest12:49

Yep, ok, yeah. And then, as you enter the meeting, letting people say, hello, catch up, hey, how are you, how’s your day going? That human aspect of it let people connect with each other as humans. That has value. Not saying it needs to go on for 15 minutes, but just hey, how are you, how’s your day going? And then reviewing why you’re there. So this is your opportunity, if you’re leading the meeting, to be like, ok, we’re here today to talk about whatever it is, we’re here today to talk about staffing issues. We agree that this is a problem. Our focus today is to brainstorm some solutions together. So that’s your level-setting moment within the meeting. Love that.

Stacey CordivanoHost13:33


Kim HarmonGuest13:34

Then next thing to consider is discovering what’s known, so figuring out where everyone is coming from. Identify the information that you have. Review where you’ve been. If you’ve already talked about something, let’s review what those action items were from the last time we met. What plans did we have in place? Let’s catch up on that. Where are we? What do we need? updates on Reviewing the group progress as you get ready to move forward.

Stacey CordivanoHost14:04

I found that meetings can get stuck here. Do you find that? Or maybe it’s just you run great meetings so they don’t? But in meetings that I attend, i feel like we often get stuck going over what’s been done And then that kind of leads to that feeling of frustration of not making progress. Any suggestions on that, i think I know what you mean.

Kim HarmonGuest14:30

Many of us will beat ourselves up if we haven’t made a lot of progress or we feel like we’ve been there before. One thought I have is saying OK, we can’t go back, so let’s recognize where we’ve been. Now I want to ask that we shift into where we’re going to go And maybe even fully call that out and say I hear you guys, let’s take a time out on that, let’s turn our focus onto our goals for this meeting And let’s move forward from there.

Stacey CordivanoHost15:00

Ok, great, i like that. So that’s really something for the meeting leader to keep in mind as a phrase to kind of shift direction. Ok, so that would lead us into engaging others.

Kim HarmonGuest15:14

This is, i think, what can make or break a meeting, and it’s really hard. I find it really hard to try to get everyone, or at least the majority of people, engaged in a meeting. I find the bigger the meeting, the harder this can be, and it’s something I struggle with and try to improve on every time I’m in a meeting. Try different ideas, ask people If I recognize. Sometimes it’s easier, when you recognize someone hasn’t maybe shared a perspective, to simply ask hey, stacey, would love your thoughts on this To try to draw somebody out. Some other tools that I’ve tried to use. One is intentional pauses, getting comfortable with the silence. It’s hard, it’s hard And my team makes fun of me now for it. They’re like enough with leading into the silence, kim let’s get on with it.

Stacey CordivanoHost16:12

That’s funny, I will say facilitating some mentorship groups for both MentorVet and Decade One. I have really had to. Your inclination is to fill the silence and often not good.

Kim HarmonGuest16:28

Well, and we, as veterinarians, as doctors, we’re trained to be knowers, we’re trained to have the answer, we’re trained to know what to do next. Yeah, and fix things. Yeah, exactly. And it’s hard for me to sit there and if I’m like, oh, i know how to fix this, i know where we should go to rein that in and allow for other people to express their opinions. What we’ve found, i think, is in that space, if you can stand to hold it long enough and I, candidly, i will count in my head to five, to 10, whatever it is you’ll get some opinions. Some people will end up speaking up that haven’t so far that you didn’t hear their voice in the room, and they might have the best idea of the day And they just didn’t feel like they had an opportunity to put their voice in the room.

Stacey CordivanoHost17:18

We think we have the answer, But again back to the whole idea of psychological safety. We don’t have all the perspectives, So waiting it out, yes, hard.

Kim HarmonGuest17:28

Hard but yeah can pay off. Another thing we talked about this earlier to try to get people engaged, some non-speaking activities, So the passing out of note cards asking people for their perspective before anyone puts a voice in the room, to encourage people to share their perspective, knowing that there is some bias that exists, a leadership bias, potentially, or an influence bias, Again, those people on your team that may not have the title, but gosh, do they have the influence.

Stacey CordivanoHost18:00

I was just thinking, if you’re tech savvy, you could also get creative with tech right. Some of the online polling or word bubble things.

Kim HarmonGuest18:08

Yeah, lots of places you could go. You could go there polling your team in the midst of something. How do you make decisions in a meeting? Is it the person that’s the loudest gets their way? Is it unanimous? Is it majority rules? Getting those answers if you’re tech savvy could be a lot easier, for sure.

Stacey CordivanoHost18:26

One question that I came across recently as far as soliciting new ideas or different ideas was from Amy Edmondson, who does the psychological safety research. She suggested asking who has a different perspective, and that is remarkably different than saying does anyone have a different perspective, because it’s inviting the idea that there are going to be other perspectives, so I want to hear about them, and making sure that people know that you want to hear the other perspectives. I thought that was a really cool question And I’m going to try to start incorporating that into all of my meetings, i think.

Kim HarmonGuest19:07

I love that. I’m going to try that one too. I absolutely love that Because, as you say, it invites the other perspective. It assumes that there’s another perspective in the room that may not have been voiced yet. I love that question.

Stacey CordivanoHost19:21

OK, and then kind of wrapping up.

Kim HarmonGuest19:24

Yeah, so then, the last of the four, the attend to the end. This is, I think, the antidote to that feeling of walking out of a meeting and going. So wait, what did we decide?

Stacey CordivanoHost19:38

I laugh because it’s common Oh yeah, totally.

Kim HarmonGuest19:42

What did we decide? What am I supposed to do? Who’s doing this? When do we? It’s that piece, that wrap-up piece, that’s like OK, let me sum up what we’ve talked about. Let me check that I’ve got everybody, that I heard everybody correctly. Here’s the sum up. I’m going to bring it back to an example of our hospital staffing. I heard that we’re going to want to add another intern to our team. I heard that we need to look at how we staff our hospital and look at that staffing. OK, the next steps from there.


I’m going to meet with X, y and Z person on this date. I’m going to circle back to the team on this date. We’re going to have a follow-up meeting at this time on this date And I expect that we’re going to have a new staffing plan at that time. People that are going to be in charge of that are these two specific people. It’s as specific as you can possibly be, almost like ad nauseam. The more specific I think you can be at the end of that meeting, the more it’s going to pay off for you and get rid of that feeling of I don’t know what’s happening. that what’s my expectation? When am I going to hear more about this. The more you can attend to the end, the better the follow-through is going to be.

Stacey CordivanoHost20:57

And I think even if you did get a lot accomplished in a meeting, without that wrap-up you could still have people leaving feeling like they wasted their hour. Ok, awesome, i think we’ve covered a ton of information. Let’s give people two sentence takeaway. Oh, let’s attend to the end. Let’s give people a two-cent and stake away and an action item for them to follow through on at their next meeting.

Kim HarmonGuest21:26

If you take nothing else away, i would take away the why, thinking about why you want to sit down with whoever you’re sitting down with. Are you looking for information? Do you want to get some ideas? Be clear about your why and communicate that to the person or people around you at the meeting.

Stacey CordivanoHost21:45

Okay, and I think mine would be focus on quality over quantity. The value that you can get from your team for building a better workplace culture can be done with a really intentional meeting versus 10 not very well-planned meetings. Okay, and then let’s come up with one sort of goal that we’re going to have for listeners, especially if they are in leadership positions or practice owners, but actually maybe could apply to associates as well Baby steps to success.

Kim HarmonGuest22:22

So one baby step for us to try would be have a one-on-one with someone on your team. Could be a doctor, could be a staff member, create the time in your schedule block and protect that time and sit down and ask somebody how it’s going.

Stacey CordivanoHost22:39

Great, I love that. I love that. Thank you so much for your time, Kim. We are going to create a resource for listeners about some tools around planning meetings, so I will link to those in the show notes. Kim, what is the best way to get in touch with you if people have questions or want to connect with you?

Kim HarmonGuest22:57

My email would be the best kharman at fairfielddequinecom. Okay, and happy to share all my fails.

Stacey CordivanoHost23:06

Awesome, perfect. Thank you so much. Thanks for all the time. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks, stacy. Thanks again for spending some time with me, especially on this two-parter. I really appreciate all of your time and energy. I also want to give a shout out to the entire practice culture subcommittee that is working so hard for the AEP’s sustainability effort. Our team is amazing And this topic and episode was born out of a group collective idea, so thanks again to them.


We also threw together a resource. I will add it to the show notes and it will be on the website. That just summarizes the basics of these two episodes, so grab that if you need it, and you’ll probably need to add notes to it because it’s not super in depth. As always, share this with a friend. This one is particularly good to share with a boss or a practice manager, especially if they’re not getting the most productive meetings done in your workplace. We all agree that workplace culture is so important and putting meetings into place that are productive and enjoyable is a great and very underutilized way to improve practice culture and communication. So I hope you’ve enjoyed. Please let us know what you think. If you want to connect with me, find me on Instagram at the whole veterinarian or check out the website at the whole veterinariancom. Talk to you again soon.

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I’m Stacey

I want veterinarians to become happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for this life that we’ve created.

I understand the struggles of a stretched-too-thin veterinarian. I have also learned that with some individual work, there is a brighter side to veterinary medicine. Personal and financial development strategies have helped me find a happier place in my life and in my work. I hope to share resources that will resonate with my fellow veterinarian to allow you to become a more whole person.

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