5 Things Every Successful Office Manager Needs to Know
Most dentists have high expectations when they hire an office manager, especially if they’ve promoted one of their hardworking, loyal employees to the position. Now that they have an office manager in place, marketing will finally get done, the schedule will work like a fine-tuned machine and personnel issues will magically go away. It almost sounds too good to be true. Well doctor, that’s because it is.
An effective office manager must have a certain skill set and temperament that’s much different from any other position in the practice. Just because a team member excelled as part of the business team doesn’t mean that same employee is equipped to handle the extra responsibilities that come with the office manager position. And even if the person you promote has the necessary skills and temperament, this vital team member will still feel lost if you don’t outline your expectations in the form of a detailed job description and provide the training needed to succeed.
So what exactly does it take to be an effective office manager? Here’s a list of five things every office manager needs to know.
1. How to be a leader. As your Chief Operating Officer, your office manager must be a leader. For some this comes naturally, but others can learn leadership skills through training and education. Your office manager must be comfortable dealing with difficult issues that come up in the practice, and not afraid to discipline other team members when necessary.
Remember your office manager will be the first point of contact for patients and team members when issues arise. If he or she is uncomfortable with this or simply isn’t good at problem solving, it will just lead to more problems in your practice.
2. How to work with numbers. Your office manager must be comfortable working with numbers. The manager is responsible for overseeing practice overhead, accessing and understanding various practice reports as well as managing all the practice’s business measurements. This isn’t a job for someone who breaks out in a sweat at the first mention of profit and loss statements, no matter how long he or she has worked at your practice.
3. How to be personable yet efficient. Not only does the office manager have to work with numbers on a daily basis, this team member also handles the practice’s human resources. That means the office manager is in charge of recruitment, hiring, firing, performance reviews, schedules, grievances, raises, salary reviews, employee policies and team meetings. Yes, that’s quite the list, and if your office manager isn’t comfortable with the HR side of the position, I can guarantee you it’s hurting team morale and costing your practice money.
You need an office manager who is comfortable working with numbers and with people, and who exhibits a good balance between thinking and feeling in his or her temperament type. Why is this important? If your office manager scores high on the “thinking” scale,” he or she may be very task oriented, and will likely come off as demanding and inflexible to the rest of the team. But if the office manager scores high on the “feeling” scale, this person will likely find it difficult to hold staff members accountable and maintain practice policies. Either scenario will do nothing but create trouble for your practice.
4. How to handle pressure. On any given day your office manager will be pulled in multiple directions and will need to juggle various tasks. You don’t want someone in the position who becomes easily flustered or short-tempered when things get hectic. This can be a stressful job, and not everyone can handle the daily pressures. Make sure you find someone who can.
5. The dentists’ expectations. Providing a detailed job description that outlines your expectations is key to your office manager’s success. You can’t expect your manager to read your mind, as lovely as that would be. Creating a detailed job description will eliminate any confusion or uncertainty about the role, saving everyone time and frustration.
Before you develop the job description, you need to provide your office manager with the proper training. Not sure how? I can help. Consider having your office manager take my Office Manager Training Course.
Office managers are responsible for more than most dentists realize. The job goes well beyond answering phones and filling the schedule. The office manager handles the business side of the practice so you don’t have to. The wrong office manager can cause you frustration and cost you money, but the right office manager will help your practice reach true success and profitability.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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