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3 Mistakes Dentists Make When Hiring an Office Manager
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Finding the right Office Manager isn’t an easy task. The person you hire will essentially become the practice’s Chief Operating Officer and will need a certain skill set and temperament to succeed. Not just anyone can take over the Office Manager role, which is why so many dentists end up hiring the wrong person for the job.

An Officer Manager does so much more than most dentists realize. The job goes well beyond answering phones, making financial arrangements and scheduling. This vital team member must be good with numbers, understand practice reports and be comfortable managing human resources.

An Office Manager also must work well under pressure. Remember, the manager is the first point of contact for patients and team members when any issues come up, and that means he or she must excel at problem solving.

Like I said, finding the right manager is no easy task, and hiring the wrong person can cost you thousands of dollars. If you’re ready to hire an Office Manager to focus on the business side of the practice so you can focus more on the dentistry, you can’t just hire the first person who seems like a good fit and expect things to go smoothly.

Need help finding the right person for this important role? Here are three of the most common mistakes dentists make when hiring an Office Manager and how you can avoid them.

1. They reward a “good” employee with a promotion to Office Manager
This might seem like a good idea, but it’s often a huge mistake. Just because a team member excels in their current role doesn’t mean they have what it takes to be an effective Office Manager. The truth is, they usually don’t – and dentists who promote from within can end up with a huge mess on their hands.

Let’s say the team member you plan to promote is good with numbers but hates conflict and cracks under pressure. Or maybe she loves working with people and is excited about the HR side of the role, but the thought of running reports and dealing with practice financials makes her break out into a cold sweat. Either way, this team member just doesn’t have the skill set, competency or temperament to succeed as an effective manager.

If you promote this employee, she’ll soon become overwhelmed and miserable. You’ll both regret the promotion and it won’t be long before she starts looking for another job. If she doesn’t leave on her own, you’ll eventually be forced to let her go or restructure the team so she’s no longer in the management role. The process will lead to a lot of stress, frustration and lost revenues, and in the end you’ll be back at square one, left looking for a new Office Manager.

The bottom line is, before you promote a “good” employee, make sure this employee can handle the responsibilities and pressures that come with the job.

2. They don’t provide detailed job descriptions
The Office Manager you hire should have a variety of skills and talents, but mind reading isn’t one of them. That’s why detailed job descriptions are so important. Job descriptions should outline exactly what the job entails as well as your expectations.

Every dentist looks at this role differently, so just because you hire someone who worked as an Office Manager for 10 years at another office doesn’t mean you can skip this important step. The job description will serve as a roadmap to success and ensure your new hire understands the role and your expectations.

3. They don’t offer training
When dentists hire an Office Manager, they often expect this new team member to fix everything that was wrong with the practice. Marketing will finally get done and personnel issues will finally get resolved. The problem is, none of that will happen without proper training and guidance from you, the practice CEO.

Now you might be thinking, “Sally, I have no idea what goes into properly training an Office Manager.” Not to worry. That’s where I come in. I offer an Office Manager Training Course through McKenzie Management that’s designed to set mangers up for success. Once they finish, newly trained managers have the confidence and skills they need to excel in the role, which of course will benefit your practice.

The thought of finally hiring an Office Manager can be exciting. With a manager in place you will have more time to focus on educating and treating patients, rather than worrying about the business side of running a practice. It’s a great relief, but only if you hire someone who can handle the job. Take the time to find the right Office Manager and your practice will reap the benefits, from improved efficiencies to a more robust bottom line.

Next week: Set your Office Manager up for success

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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