What you need to know before hiring an Office Manager

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

When dentists decide it’s time to hire an Office Manager, their expectations are usually pretty high. They have visions of this new employee taking over all the business elements that come with practice ownership, freeing them up to focus more on patient care. They can’t wait for this team member to get started, but usually end up disappointed with the results.

Why? Dentists often rush the hiring process, and end up promoting someone who just isn’t right for the job. They also expect this team member to hit the ground running, with little to no guidance. This all leads to confusion and frustration, which ultimately holds the practice back and keeps them from meeting their full potential.

I don’t want this to happen to you. If you’re ready to hire an Office Manager, there’s a few things you should know before bringing this important team member on board. Here are my tips to help ensure you hire the best person for the job, and reap the many benefits a skilled Office Manager can bring.

Understand what the role entails. This job goes well beyond answering phones and scheduling patients. Your Office Manager will serve as the practice’s Chief Operating Officer, or COO, and must have a certain skillset and temperament to excel. The person you hire must be good with numbers and people, which can be difficult to find. Here’s a list of just some of the duties your Office Manager should take on:

-Handling HR tasks, including recruitment, hiring, firing, raise assessments, salaries, performance reviews and other personnel issues

-Reading and understanding various practice reports

-Managing the practice’s business measurements

-Making financial arrangements with patients

-Overseeing practice overhead

-Developing and enforcing employee polices

-Scheduling and running team meetings

-Creating and executing marketing campaigns

The list goes on and on, making it vital to hire someone who can handle the wide variety of duties the role entails.

Follow the proper hiring process. When dentists decide to hire an Office Manager, many opt to promote one of their star employees. They choose someone who is reliable and good at their job, but all-too-often this ends up being a huge mistake. The team member the doctor always could depend on before just can’t handle the responsibilities, leading to a host of new problems for the entire team.

Just because a team member is good at her job doesn’t mean she’ll be good as an Office Manager. Like I said, successful Office Managers have a certain set of skills and a temperament that allows them to work well under pressure. They can handle human resources issues one minute then move on to interpreting practice reports the next. Not everyone can do this, which is why it’s so important to go through the proper hiring process from creating a detailed ad, to conducting phone screenings to asking the right questions during face-to-face interviews.

First, sit down and really think about what role you’d like the Office Manager to play in the practice. Once you know that, you can create a detailed list of the Office Manager’s responsibilities and the skills necessary to excel in the position. This will serve as the job description, and should also include your expectations and specific performance measurements.

Finding a person with the right temperament is also key. You need someone who is both personable and analytical. So if you’re considering an application who is great with people but who struggles with numbers, that person just isn’t a good fit for the job.

Whoever you hire should demonstrate a good balance of thinking and feeling in their temperament type. Let me explain. People who score high on the “thinking” scale are likely very task oriented and may come off as demanding. Those who score high on the “feeling” scale might find it difficult to hold staff members accountable and maintain practice policies. Either personality type will struggle in this role, which is why you need someone who has a mix of both.

You have to provide proper training. Even if you hire an experienced Office Manager, you can’t expect this new team member to magically fix all your business-related problems without any direction from you. Offering this guidance can be difficult for dentists, as many aren’t sure what it actually takes to be a good Office Manager. All they really know is they want someone to help run the business and to make the practice more efficient.

Finding training that covers everything Office Managers need to know will help set this vital team member up for success. I offer an Office Manager Training Course through McKenzie Management. Once your Office Manager takes this course, she’ll have more confidence in her skills and will be ready to excel in her new role.

Hiring an Office Manager can bring a lot of benefits to your practice—but only if you hire the right person and then set that person up to succeed. This isn’t an easy role to take on, but once you find the right person, your practice will be much more efficient, and you’ll have more time to focus on what you really love: providing patients with the best care possible.

Next Thursday: Every Office Manager needs these 5 things to succeed. Share this Newsletter

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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