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Never Hire an Office Manager: Develop a Team Leader

Too often, I see Doctors and their practices struggling to find a solution to high overhead, low productivity, and patient marketing and retention.  In most cases, I see a high turnover of staff, few new patients and an out of control overhead spiral.  A typical Doctor response is to take more continuing education to improve his/her clinical skills.  As it turns out, this strategy misses the true cause(s) of their problems. Overhead, productivity, staff unrest, and poor team performance are usually just symptoms of a lack of leadership in your practice.

We have all been pushed by so called practice management gurus to “delegate” the day-to-day “management” of our practices to an “office manager”.  I can hear those same “experts” say:  “Just focus on the clinical and let the office manager take over everything else.”  If your consultant is saying this, fire them.  It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of group dynamics and purpose driven management skills.

Office managers exist by “positional authority”.  In other words, their title or position gives them the authority to dictate policy.  At best they follow orders, at worst they alienate the staff through intimidation and poor people skills and run off patients.  The problem is you, the Doctor, not wanting to “manage” the practice.  By abdicating your leadership and management role you set yourself up for failure and poor productivity with high staff turn over.  When there are problems in a practice, it is always caused by the Doctor.  By your decisions or lack of them, you own the results.  Your systems are precisely designed to give you the results you are getting.  The buck stops with you.  If you want different results, change the systems.  Do something different.

Doctor, you need  more than an office manager.

You need to “partner” with a TEAM LEADER.

A Team Leader is someone who provides guidance, instruction, direction, and leadership to a team for the purpose of achieving results.  A group of employees does not automatically constitute a team.  Teams are developed and grown.  It is no longer good enough to have “good” employees.  You need excellent employees working together as a team.  Your practice will never go any farther than the person with the lowest level of commitment to the vision.  It is the responsibility of the team leader to add feet to your vision.  It is reasonable to expect your team leader to manage your office and your team during working hours, but you are responsible to define reality in your practice and monitor progress.  The team leader will implement the systems and help the team maintain the vision on a day-to-day basis.

The team leader fulfills a team role similar to that of captain in a team sport.  They hold equal responsibility and accountability for the group’s performance with each other team member.  Ideas, options and collective decisions on how best to accomplish the purpose and goals of the team are encouraged and supported by the team leader.  When a person accepts a position as a team leader, he or she accepts the challenge of becoming both an exceptional leader and exceptional person.  In effect, the team leader becomes accountable to the team for his or her leadership performance.  They become more than an office manager, they become a partner in the leadership and execution of your vision for the practice.

Doctor:  Lead your practice and partner with a Team Leader to manage it to the next level.