What Might Happen When Your First Employee Becomes Your "Dental Office Manager"

A common error made by young and independently owned dental practices is the filling of the role of office manager.

Often, when a practice first opens, a single employee is hired in the dual role of dental assistant / dental administrator.  Let’s call this person Jen.

Later,  when the second employee (usually a full time front desk dental administrator) is hired, Jen ends up being promoted to “office manager”.

For example, Jen is your first hire. Jen is a great dental assistant and fills in at front desk for your first very quiet year.  Later, Mary is hired for front desk so Jen can assist you more as the patient base grows. Jen becomes the “office manager” and shows Mary the ropes.

Fast forward 3, 4 and 5 years into the future and you now have a decent sized patient base and a team of 5 or 6 smart people with lots of ideas on how things should be done. They all push their own agenda and ideas and without a codified, unified office wide protocol, everyone is doing their own thing. Typical team development failure point.

Meanwhile, Jen is still your “office manager”, but she isn’t really equipped for the job.  Don’t get me wrong – Jen is really nice and a reliable dental assistant, and she has no problem calculating everyone’ hours worked for payroll, but she just doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. She has blind spots and isn’t aware of the areas in which she is ill equipped for the job of dental office manager, team leader and business driver.

Eventually, your team starts to experience tension and drama and disagreements continue about how things “should” be done. Some outspoken people may create scenes. Some quiet people may be internalizing their stress.

Meanwhile, invisibly and insidiously, no one is truly aware of how much the lack of business systems is affecting the production values or adding to the downtime rate. You are not aware that the lack of a formal HR policy leaves people feeling jealous, bitter and angry about perceived favourites in the office. You don’t have clear job descriptions, detailed performance reviews, team meetings, practice goals or set expectations for team mates to strive for. What you do have is a group of people that come in, put in their hours, chit chat, laugh and joke, eat some snacks in the back and go home. Meanwhile, your practice is missing out on gaining the type of traction you need to really succeed.  What you really need is a better office manager.

Maybe you decide to send Jen for training. But at this point, your entire team needs training on how to be a high performing team. So maybe you decide to send everyone out for training. The problem with dental training workshops is that the high of motivation experienced at the training course wanes a few days later, and everyone slides back into their old comfortable habits.

So how do you get your team to go from good to great? One way is to learn practice management, team leadership, conflict resolution and admin systems yourself, then train your team, uphold the policies yourself, and step up to be the business leader and driver your practice needs. (But aren’t you busy working on teeth?)

Another way is to hire The Practice Geek or a dental coach of your choosing and gently train bad habits out of your team, while instilling good habits and tools that can be used to drive your practice further than ever before.

When you work with TPG, I will personally work with you and your team every week. Together, we will implement practice wide systems, codify them, create HR policies, job descriptions, performance reviews, team communication methods and team goals to get everyone moving in the same direction and driving your practice forward.

Your team has amazing potential and with a little coaching, skills training, encouraging and positive reenforcement, they can blow you away with what they can accomplish for your practice.

Looking for dental practice management help in Durham Region?

TPG offers dental practice management help and team coaching in Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Courtice, Bowmanville, Port Hope, Cobourg and throughout Durham, Clarington and Northumberland.  Whether you are beginning with the end in mind and looking to start your practice off right, or you are searching for solutions for your practice problems, chances are help is right here.  Browse our services or reach out today.