The job of an office manager isn't easy. The list of tasks for this important role goes on and on, from handling human resources to overseeing practice overhead and managing the practice's business measurements. It's no wonder so many dentists struggle to find an office manager who's up to the task.
Part of the problem is that many dentists use the office manager position as a reward for "good" employees. They promote their star front-office team member into the position and expect this person just to settle right into the role, with no training or direction. Inevitably this team member struggles, never meeting the dentist's high expectations and costing the practice thousands of dollars in the process.
If you want your office manager to succeed, you have to hire someone who has the right skill set and temperament for the job -- not just someone who's been with the practice for years and seems to have a good rapport with the patients. Success in this role takes much more than that.
You need to find someone who is good with both numbers and people, whose temperament type is a balance between thinking and feeling, and who also works well under pressure. The office manager should be the first point of contact for patients and team members when any issue arises, and he or she must be a good problem solver.
Once you've found the right person for the role, you have to do your part to help this team member succeed. Not sure how? Here are three things every dentist should do to help his or her office manager grow.
1. Provide a detailed job description
The office manager role means different things to different dentists. Therefore, it's vital that you create a detailed job description that outlines your expectations and the necessary skill set.
Remember, the office manager is responsible for so much more than just answering phones and filling out the schedule: This team member runs the business side of the practice so you can focus on the dentistry. Include every responsibility in the job description to avoid confusion and frustration down the road.
2. Learn to let go
You have to give the office manager authority to make decisions -- something many dentists struggle with. Be ready to give up control of some areas of the business; if you're the CEO of your practice, your office manager is the chief operating officer.
If you consider your office manager a partner, you'll both get much more out of the position. Your office manager will take ownership of the role and be poised to help run your practice more efficiently -- boosting your production numbers and your bottom line.
3. Provide training
Even if the person you hire has the right skill set and temperament for the job, you still need to provide proper training. This can be tricky because most dentists I know don't have any idea what it takes to be a good office manager. They just want someone to take over the business side of the practice so they can focus on treating patients.
The office manager plays an important role in your practice and does so much more than most dentists realize. Once you find the right person for the role, you need to focus on helping that team member grow. Follow these tips and your office manager will have your practice running more efficiently while you focus on what you love most: the dentistry.
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