NEVER HIRE AN OFFICE MANAGER: DEVELOP A TEAM LEADER
Too often, I see doctors and their practices struggling to find a solution to overhead, productivity, and patient marketing and retention. In most cases, I see a high turn over of staff, few new patients and an out-of-control overhead spiral. The Doctors response is to take more continuing education to improve his/her clinical skills. As it turns out, this strategy misses the true causes 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 do the clinical and let the office manager take over every thing else.” If your consultant is saying this, fire them immediately. 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, as the doctor, don’t want 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, they are 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. You want different results, then 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 staff members do not necessarily constitute a team. Teams are developed and grown. It is no longer good enough to have “good” staffs. You need excellent staffs. Your practice will never go any further 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 their progress. The team leader will create the systems and help the staff develop 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.
When you get back to your team, ask them:
1. What should I stop doing?
2. What should I keep doing?
3. What should I start doing?
Few leaders are successful unless a lot of people want them to be. Every success comes through the assistance of many other people. Conversely, many people whose success stops at some point are in that position because they have cut themselves off from everyone who has helped them. They view themselves as the sole source of their achievements. As they become more self-centered and isolated they lose their creativity and ability to succeed. Continually acknowledge the contributions of others, focus on appreciating and thanking others, and the conditions will always grow to support your increasing success. You will never get ahead until people are behind you. A leader can give up everything but final responsibility.
We want to invite the person who most closely represents a “Team Leader” in your organization to attend a two-day seminar. In return, we will give you back a qualified leader who will be able to implement the changes needed to take your practice to the next level. Imagine sending us your best and getting back a leader that will be able to format strategies and systems that you have lacked in your practice. Give us two days, and you won’t believe the difference in your new Team Leader and the influence they will bring to your practice. Contact us for the details.
Michael Abernathy, DDS