Communicating with your Receptionists #Managers

Being a doctors receptionist is no easy task, and certainly not the job some people seem to think it is, some think it’s sitting at the desk booking patients in to see the doctor and handing out prescriptions, oh no it’s so much more and more again. Being a doctors receptionist is a bit like marmite, you either “love it or hate it”. The receptionist that ‘loves’ his/her job will be loyal, hard-working and very proactive. They are the ones that can see problems ahead, make the best suggestions and really want the best for the practice. They are the ambassadors of your practice.

It saddens me when at some of my training sessions I hear that they sometimes do not feel appreciated and they don’t feel part of the team. They often blame Management for lack of communication who are occasionally not caring and unapproachable. This might not be true, but it’s how they feel. Lack of training is also another complaint that I hear of often. Many Receptionists feel that they could do so much more in their role, if only they had the appropriate training. This is where I step in and defend the managers! I know how hard the role of a manager can be, often being piggy in the middle; the Partners shouting on one side and the Staff on the other. There are budgets to follow and targets to hit, whilst trying to stay loyal to both sides. Being a manager can often be a very lonely job. Who is there for the Manager when it gets tough?

My role of manager soon taught me that communication is key. In communicating with the receptionists I came to learn, first hand, what the problems in reception were, before it got too late and became a bigger problem than it already was. Receptionists need to know what is going on, if they don’t they often jump to the wrong conclusion. They will often gossip between themselves and make up their own minds, which can often cause bad feeling within the team. Having a team with a low morale is often extremely hard to turn around.

What is the best way to communicate with your receptionists? Hold Regular staff meetings; weekly, twice monthly or monthly.

  • Ask the staff to contribute to the agenda, make the meetings their meetings.
  • Make the meetings interesting! If they are interesting the staff will actually want to come, they will contribute and as a result they will be a success.
  • Rotate the meetings on different days and times to enable part-time staff to attend at least every other meeting.
  • It’s your chance as a manager to give the facts, to tell them as a team what is happening within the practice; it’s a great way to avoid rumours and discontent.
  • Take minutes for future reference and make copies available for those that were unable to attend. Make a copy for the partners too.
  • Ask a Partner to attend a couple of meetings a year, this shows support, and in my experience, always goes down very well with the receptionists. It also gives the Partners an insight in what is happening in reception and how hard their roles can often be.
  • Use the meeting to discuss any issues that have occurred and ask the team how they feel it could have been dealt with, often they will come up with the solution. This will help in the future as they will then start to solve problems themselves, rather than running to you every time, expecting you as the manager to have the answer. Meetings can often make the team more proactive.

Another complaint is lack of communication. Often, many of the staff will be told something but others don’t hear about it. This can lead to confusion and often anger, which can result in jobs not being done properly, as some staff have not been informed. A lot of the time this happens to staff who are on holiday or that work part-time. Memos or emails sent to every member of the team seems to work well. Having a receptionist message book works extremely well. Receptionists can leave messages that everyone can read before they begin their shift.

Communicating with your team will often highlight concerns, and often they will share good ideas,  after all they are the “experts” in their field and will often offer very productive ideas. Many of my training issues, ideas and changes came from my experiences of “walking in their shoes”

Another way of communicating with your staff is to simply show your support. Go and see what they are doing and praise them regularly. Most importantly, always remember how difficult your job as a manager would be if the receptionists did not do their job well.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

The Meeting Venue

If you are holding a meeting it is important to have the right conditions. Having the right (or wrong) conditions could have a big impact on the meeting.


If the venue is not at your place of work you need to ensure that you inform everyone isd aware of all the details.

  • That people attending the meeting are aware of the venue.
  • Aware of the date and time of the meeting. do not assume that people will know.
  •  You should give them clear instructions on how to get there
  •  Advise them if there will be a fee for car parking
  •  Advise them if lunch/evening meal will be supplied
  •  Advise them the time of the meeting – when it starts and finishes and if all day
    what time the lunch break will be at.


  • Always make sure that the room is big enough to hold all everyone attending the
  •  If there are only a few people attending the meeting you should opt for a
    smaller more intimate room – a few people in a big room can be sometimes
  • Always have a table for people to sit around – there is nothing worse than people having to write notes on their laps.
  •  Is the table big enough to sit everyone?
  •  Are there enough chairs to sit everyone?
  •  Can everyone see the Chairperson from where they are sitting?
  •  Can everyone see the flip chart/screen from where they are sitting?
  •  Is the ventilation good? If there are a lot of people in the room ventilation is very important – can you open the windows, or is there air conditioning available?  If there is air conditioning make sure you know how to operate it.
  •  Know where the emergency exists are – and inform everyone at the START of the meeting.


  • You will need to supply paper and pens for everyone. Don’t relay on them bringing their own stationery.
  •  An agenda (even if you have sent an agenda out beforehand – people will forget and then start asking for a copy – be prepared have extra copies available.)
  •   Flip Charts / overhead projectors / computer connections. Always make sure when booking the meeting room that these will be available.


  • A meeting that lasts about 2 –3 hours does not need to have a break.
  •  A meeting that lasts up to 4 hours should have a 15 – 20 minute coffee/tea break.
  •  A meeting that is all day should have a coffee break morning and afternoon and a
    lunch break in the middle of the day.
  •  It is a good idea no matter how long or short the meeting to have a supply of
    water on the tables and perhaps some mints or fruit sweets. This helps keep people rehydrated   and keeps them alert.
  •  If you are having your meeting in a hotel or a meeting venue check with them
    before the meeting to see if coffee/tea is included, if not you may have to make a separate order for this.
  •  If you are responsible for booking the meeting always ensure that you arrive early to check that everything is available that you require. You should have
    everything in order ready to start approximately 10 minutes before the meeting.
    This will give you a few spare minutes to take a deep breath before the meeting

Being well prepared for a meeting will get it off to a good start go smoothly and therefore run to schedule.