Tis’ the season to be jolly!
Bringing peace to front office power struggles
With practice growth, the need of a new employee to accomplish tasks that have become burdensome to the existing Business Coordinator is suddenly apparent. Introducing a new employee to the practice requires a well-defined plan. Let’s assume that you have an office policy and a front office procedural manual. If you do not have these items in place it is guaranteed to be a difficult transition and training period.
With the hiring of a new employee, comes the development of a job description. More trouble looms ahead as your existing Business Coordinator is given the responsibility of deciding, now with two employees in the front office, who is going to do what. Naturally the new employee will be blessed with tasks that the Business Coordinator does not like to do or doesn’t do at all. A job description that promotes accountability states the duties, responsibilities, qualifications and training required and specified areas of accountability such as collecting 45% of each day’s production at the time of service. These job tasks can be arranged in daily, weekly and monthly categories. This job description is gone over during the interview process to determine current skill level and areas of training necessary to get the new hire up to speed as soon as possible.
Dr. Smallville (not real name) was happy when his practice was seeing continuously over 22 patients a day, the phone ringing and new patients increased to 30 a month. With this growth, it was time to hire another business employee. The interview went well and she came highly qualified with great references. He decided that she (Jamie) would be the Office Manager and his existing Business Coordinator (Kelley) would be in charge of scheduling and all other front office duties because she knew the patients and the other members of the team liked her. There was an existing job description for Kelley but it had not been updated since her hiring date and he failed to produce one for Jamie. The following is what happened, taken from an actual case file of McKenzie Management.
I was so optimistic when I hired Jamie to be my Office Manager. My goal was to give her the administrative tasks such as recruiting, screening and training new staff members, payroll and other HR matters that I wanted off my plate so that I could spend more time chair side. Here is the issue. My existing front office person, Kelley, is engaged in a power struggle with my new Office Manager and has been trying to undermine her authority by coming to me for every little thing. I have asked her to go to Jamie but she says, “she is used to coming to me and Jamie has not been here long enough to know what she is doing.” I need both of these women and they are both strong. I am tired of the power struggle. How can I bring peace again to my practice?
Meet with Kelley for a performance review and update her job description. It appears that there is confusion over areas of responsibility and accountability and this must be defined. Explain to Kelley that she is a valued member of the front office team and you want her cooperation. If this is difficult for you, leadership coaching is a service available through McKenzie Management. Inform Kelley that she needs to communicate all of the daily office issues to Jamie. The practice is growing and therefore change is a necessary component. The next step would be to write a well-defined job description for Jamie and go over it with her so that she is aware of the limits to her authority.
Explain to Jamie that Kelley will be reporting to her for all issues having to do with the business office. Have her sign and give her a copy. You are the CEO and this is your business. Another suggestion would be to purchase McKenzie Managements’ book, How Personality Types Affect Practice Success. Have Jamie and Kelley take the test. They will discover things about themselves that will help them build a better relationship. You describe them as being strong and engaged in a power struggle. Our studies show that this behavior is oftentimes personality driven and once aware of this, behavior can be modified. I hope this helps to bring “peace to your practice’’.
Why not improve your performance in 2008. Attend McKenzie Management’s Front Office or Office Manager Training. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877.777.6151
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