Oral Health Group

Congratulations! You’re the New Office Manager! Now What?

May 3, 2021
by Shawn Peers, DentalPeers


Congratulations! This is incredible news. Your passion and pride in what you do in the healthcare field is truly being rewarded.

Perhaps you were an excellent hygienist…a phenomenal dental assistant…a top-notch admin team member providing your clinicians with first rate support.

And today…your journey as a new office manager begins! This is your chance to put your stamp on the standard of oral healthcare offered to all patients throughout your office. You just have one question before you start…now what?

Do you have a clearly defined job description that sets out what is expected of you? Does your owner dentist really know what role they want you to play in the growth of your office? Or have they just told you to come in and “manage the office”…no guidance…no vision.

All too often, new office managers find themselves in the last situation. The owner/dentist just comes in, makes a bee-line for their operatory and only show up in the business office when there is a problem or they are looking for money!

Managing an office without being able to identify the goalposts of expectations is, to put it mildly, a challenge. Rather than managing, you will simply move from one fire to the next…extinguishing one only to find another needs your attention.

To truly manage the practice, you need to understand its vision. What does your dentist want their practice to be? Do they prefer certain types of cases? Are they open to embracing the latest in dental technology? How do they want their patients to feel when they visit this office?

If no such vision exists, it is time to sit down with your dentist and create one. I am an advocate of involving the team in this process. The more input they have, the more likely they are to share that vision and work toward achieving it.

However, the owner must drive that vision. It is their practice and the direction it moves toward must ultimately be up to them.

You may have to convince your dentist on the need for a vision. It will be worth the effort! It is only when a vision is established that you begin to see the goalposts of your managerial expectations take shape. You will then have taken those first steps on defining what is expected of you.

Now your work is by no means complete! You still must prioritize the various tasks that will achieve that vision…and understand your level of responsibility attached to each task.

For instance, some tasks may fall entirely under your control (dealing with reallocation of work in the event another team member calls in sick) and may not require any input from the owner. Having the owner involved in these tasks may seem like micromanagement.

Other tasks may have you acting more as a counsellor. You may be asked to provide advice, or you may just be expected to remind the owner of an impending important event. The owner will make the final decision, in part based on your input. This could include the decision to renovate the office or purchase new equipment.

The key is the more your responsibilities are outlined, the better you will be able to focus on managing that practice in a way that meets the vision that has been developed. So, if that vision is missing, your first task is to help create it.

Only when it has been created can we then turn our attention to bringing it to life!


About the Author

Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.


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