Do You Need An Office Manager?

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Key Considerations In Hiring An Office Manager

You first need to acknowledge that an effective office manager can absolutely help you achieve success in your practice by taking some huge time-consuming responsibilities off your plate. Transferring these administrative duties and responsibilities to a capable manager will allow you more time to do more of the revenue-producing tasks that you were medically trained to do.

   In regard to hiring an office manager, the candidate should have the proper training as well as the hard and soft skills. These skills include sharing visions, goals, expectations and standards of practice. Other skills are leading by example, recognizing staff talents, helping develop skills, trustworthiness, honesty, fairness, problem solving, conflict mediation, evoking team spirit, listening and communicating.

   He or she must do all this with tact and diplomacy. If the candidate does not have all these skills, he or she cannot successfully fill the role of a competent office manager.

   There is a certain peace of mind that comes with having a trusted individual who can take things off your plate by handling financial, administrative and human resources issues efficiently and effectively. If the right person is in the right shoes, you are golden.

   Can you afford to hire an office manager? If you plan on simply bestowing a new title on a current employee, increasing his or her duties to include all that I mentioned above and throwing them a dollar more an hour for the extra effort, that is probably affordable. However, it is not fair to you or your staff members.

   Speaking strictly from a business perspective, chances are your choice employee is not management material. Even though he or she may be an excellent worker and may know your office inside and out, this is not what you hired that person to do. Do not automatically expect that person to take on administrative duties in addition to what he or she already does. With proper instruction and mentorship to develop skills, some may have the potential to fill those shoes. However, doctors who insist on simply “bumping up” a current employee (clinical, front desk or otherwise) continue to challenge the theory that this does not always work.

   It is also important to recognize that managing an office is not a part-time job. If managers are forced to split their time between being part manager/part assistant, they are compromising their work, jeopardizing the success of the practice and are ultimately set up for failure. Often, this leaves the doctor disappointed and the employee frustrated.

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Author(s): 
Lynn Homisak, PRT

Having an office manager can bring increased efficiency and sanity to your podiatric practice, freeing you to focus more on the care of patients. This author details how an office manager can streamline operational systems, boost productivity and promote increased teamwork.

   The bills are piling up. Staff is out of control. Policies get ignored. Patient flow becomes compromised. Efficiency is lacking. The front desk goes unsupervised. Stress is becoming the symptom du jour.

   Do you resent being put in a position of having to deal with some of the same problems in your office over and over when, in reality, you should be concentrating more on caring for your patients? Perhaps it is time to consider hiring an office manager.

   My years of consulting work have taken me into a lot of podiatry practices, some of which employ an administrator or manager, and some that do not. Within minutes of experiencing the environment and overall operations, I can tell whether a practice is under proper management.

   When there is poor management (or no management), it bubbles over into almost every aspect of the practice. The signs may range from disorganization and inefficient patient flow to financial negligence, from insubordination to failed policies.

   While mismanagement definitely raises some red flags, not all red flags are due to mismanagement. True, mismanagement may be a contributing factor but not necessarily the sole cause of a practice’s problems. There are other dynamics at play that you need to consider. For example, if you hire the wrong employee or he or she does not have the proper tools to succeed, it is unrealistic to expect management to step in and turn things around instantly.

   In preparation for this article, I asked two people this question: “When do you know it is time to hire an office manager?”

   The first response was from a colleague who holds a management position. “When you have more than one employee,” he said and he could not have been more sincere.

   The second response was from a friend who works for a manager. She scowled and said, “I am not sure but I can easily tell you when you need a new manager.” We both chuckled in spite of her angst.

   On the other side of the spectrum, those practices that insist on healthy leadership qualities tell quite a different story. Those practices that hire good office managers can potentially reap the benefits of:

• enforced policies;
• improved staff morale;
• optimal staff productivity;
• teamwork and professionalism;
• focus on practice goals;
• structured systems and operations; and
• fewer mistakes and more attention
to detail.

Pertinent Insights On Enforcing Office Policies

I have seen far too many problems caused by lack of policies or un-enforced policies in the workplace. There are a number of reasons why this happens.

   First, the practice may have an office manual with rules that should help address certain situations. The existence of this manual may be news to the staff and is sometimes even news to the doctors. Without knowing what they can and cannot do, staff members make up their own rules. If no one corrects the staff, they assume they are right.

   Second, doctors are afraid to enforce the rules for fear of losing their staff. When I point out to the doctors that policies are being broken, they say to me, “Well, what can I do?” My usual response: “If I were you, I would tell their boss.” It is a reality check.

   If you consider the policy or employee manual the “law enforcement rule book” in the office but no one is in the driver’s seat of those rules, they get abused, redefined or completely avoided. What is worse is the perception that the behavior is acceptable.

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Dr. David Dardashtisays: November 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Where can I find a medical office manager? Is there a website dedicated to finding an office manager?

Thank you.

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