Office Manager Not Meeting Expectations? Here's Why
You finally did it. You asked your star front office employee, Sarah, to be your office manager, and she was thrilled to accept the promotion. At the time, you were confident Sarah could handle the responsibilities, and you were relieved to know you’d no longer have to deal with those time-consuming business tasks that took you away from what you truly love – the dentistry. Yes, it seemed like a great idea at the time, but so far Sarah just isn’t living up to your expectations. In fact, if you’re being honest, you’d have to say it’s been a bit of a disaster.
Unfortunately, this scenario plays out in many practices. The dentist decides it’s time to hire an office manager, promotes from within and then regrets the decision. The once reliable team member the dentist thought was a perfect fit for the position just can’t handle the responsibilities, and that not only leads to a lot of frustration, it also costs thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
The problem is, many dentists throw what they consider “good” employees into the office manager role without any training or guidance. They think because the team member was good at her previous job, she’ll know exactly what to do as your new office manager. As nice as that would be, it just isn’t the case.
Yes, these employees may seem like they have the potential to make the shift to this higher level practice position, but often they just don’t have the skill set or level of competency needed to be an effective office manager. The position involves far more than just answering phones, scheduling and preparing financial arrangements. Your office manager should serve as your practice’s Chief Operating Officer, and should be skilled at working with numbers, have the ability to access and understand practice reports and be prepared to manage the office’s human resources. The list of potential duties goes on and on.
Before you hire an office manager, you need to make sure the employee has the proper skill set and is prepared to take on the level of responsibility the role requires. If you don’t, no matter how much this employee excelled in her former role, your once excited new office manager will soon feel overwhelmed. She won’t perform to your expectations, and if she doesn’t quit in frustration, you’ll be forced to let her go or restructure the team so she’s no longer assuming the manager role.
You can avoid this messy, costly situation if you take the time to find the right person to take over as your office manager, rather than promoting a loyal employee because you think she deserves it. One way to do that is to develop a detailed job description outlining your expectations for the role. I find that most doctors don’t do this, mostly because they really have no idea what duties they want their office manager to carry out, or what skill set their office manager needs to be successful.
I understand this isn’t an easy task, but it’s an important one. The position is unique to every dental practice, so you must determine exactly what you need your office manager to do to help the practice succeed. From there, create a detailed job description that best meets your practice needs. This will serve as a road map to your office manager’s success, and will help avoid any confusion about what the positon entails. Not only that, it will help avoid the frustration and lost revenue that comes with promoting someone who just isn’t a good fit for the job.
And, of course, you have to provide your office manager with proper training. Even if the person you hire has the right skill set and temperament for the job, this team member still needs guidance. I know this can be difficult for dentists, because most aren’t sure what it takes to be a good office manager, they just know they want someone to take over the business responsibilities so they don’t have to deal with them anymore. That’s why I offer an Office Manager Training Course through McKenzie Management. This program will set your office manager up for success, and provide the confidence needed to excel in this role.
A good office manager will help you run your practice more efficiently. You just have to make sure you hire the right person for the job. Resist the urge to reward good employees with a promotion to a job they’re not qualified for. Take the time to find someone with the right skill set and temperament to take over this important role. If you provide this team member with proper guidance and training, you’ll reap the benefits that a skilled office manager can bring to your practice, giving you more time to focus on the dentistry while providing your patients with the best care possible.
Next week, 5 things every successful office manager needs to know.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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