Have you ever thought of everything your Office Manager (OM) needs to be THE expert on in your office? This extensive list would include:
- human resources
- dental software
- clinical knowledge
- treatment coordination
- hygiene coordination
- customer service
- accounts receivable
- budget balancing
- IT problem solving AND….
- be a moving force in setting goals for office growth
I know there isn’t another position like this in the office where one person has to have such a breadth of knowledge and be able to tap into it on a daily basis. They may even know more than the owner in many of these areas!
Sometimes owners may even feel that if there were a change in their OM, the whole office would fall apart. Most owners are heavily reliant on their OM for tasks they don’t know how to complete themselves. The description above of the expertise necessary to run a dental office is dizzying when you actually think about it and likely also what a relief it is that you may have someone in place who can fulfil this role.
To ensure the success of the OM in any office there should be certain protocols in place. A full and detailed job description should be provided to ensure that responsibilities are laid out clearly and concisely, you don’t want to realize a year or two too late that an item was being missed because you both thought the other was taking responsibility for it.
Allow the OM the ability to make decisions that you will support if they are questioned. You will want to be providing clear parameters for decision making by your OM. If you think of your OM as a management partner, instead of another employee this will take some of the decision-making stress from you and allow you to put that energy into providing exceptional patient care.
Your OM will need to have an affinity for both leadership and numbers. This combination means that they must not just record the numbers they need to be able to analyze the results with you, to have a discussion about moving the practice forward depending on the results. You want to always ensure that your practice is growing, a stable practice is comfortable only for a very short time. Leadership is not dictatorship, there must be an understanding of relationships, the ability to promote team participation as well as being firm in decision making especially surrounding change. Even though an OM may not be able to perform every task in the office they need to possess a keen understanding of any role, its challenges and its success principles. Having an OM that only understands the numbers or is only good with people won’t be able to lead your office in the same way.
Very often though, the people in this position carry an incredible amount of stress because they feel the responsibility of the office on their shoulders and they don’t have a support system in place when they feel challenged to help them work out any questions they may have. OM are supposed to have the answers and not the questions, providing them with specific resources for your office situation is your responsibility as the owner to ensure that they succeed.
All of the items above led me to think about my years as an Office Manager. There is no formal training to move yourself forward in the field, you really need a great mentor to grow. The CE that is available is generalities that you may or may not be able to apply in your particular situation when you return to work. Something I always craved as an office manager, was a mentor who could connect me with other office managers and answer my questions without me trying to figure everything out by trial and error. I have now designed a Mastermind Group for Dental Office Managers that will provide small group peer support, customized systems that would be applicable for your office along with leadership training.