Often times in my world, from the staff, physicians, and most often from sales representatives, I hear all kinds of tales about “lazy office managers.” As a point person in the office, and certainly as a leader, office managers can take a lot of flak, sometimes it is warranted, and other times it isn’t.
There are a few things you can do to ensure that you don’t fall into the category of “lazy office manager.”
1. Don’t manage solely from your desk. Step outside of your office frequently. In order to ensure that your staff and clinic are functioning properly, you must move through the clinic and observe/interact several times a day. Interacting with the staff, physicians, and patients is vital to maintain a healthy practice environment, and the only way to know what is going on in your clinic. In clinics where there is room, the office manager should primarily do their work at a workstation outside of their office, and use their office for one-on-one meetings or employee counseling.
2. Answer phone calls, e-mails, and return left messages. It really is just common courtesy, and shouldn’t need to be reminded, but all too often, there are complaints from staff members that they field calls all day that the manager hasn’t returned any calls.
3. Meet with representatives, listen, and thoroughly review their proposal for your clinic with your physician(s). Pick your jaws up off the floor, this is probably one of the most important aspects of your job as an office manager, and if you aren’t reviewing the opportunities that are brought to you, you are really doing your office a disservice. There are many lost opportunities (some to the tune of a half million dollars a year, with no investment) that are beneficial to patient care and your practice that are never even looked at simply because an office manager is too busy. Part of your job as office manager is to find ways to increase revenue and help the physicians provide the best patient care possible. Try marking a single 20-minute slot on your calendar, three days to five days a week for a representative to meet with you, and stick firmly to the allotted appointment time. If you find an opportunity, but the sales representative drives you crazy, call their corporate office and ask for a different person to handle your account.
4. Enforce no gossip policies, and avoid adding to or stirring gossip up in the office.
5. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. The office manager should know how to perform every job in the office, and do it with some degree of efficiency and expertise. If you are short staffed or overloaded with patients, you should be able to jump in and provide almost seamless help. If there are some tasks you aren’t trained on (for instance taking a blood pressure) ask your staff to train you — they will respect you for it.
6. Take some time to market your practice. There are numerous avenues for office managers to pursue networking opportunities with other office managers. Many areas have regional clubs and associations that span many specialties. Networking with other office managers allows you to market your physician(s), services, and practice in general to other offices and learn what is working for them. Often times these groups will also offer educational pieces for yourself and key people in your office.
7. Set a good example. Demonstrate respect, hard work, gratitude, kindness, professional dress, proper work ethic, timeliness, and avoid unscheduled absences, and your staff will follow your example.
Overall, there are not any more “lazy office managers” than there are “lazy nurses” or “lazy bankers” for that matter. Many times it is the perception of “what does she/he do in there all day?” that causes others to assume that a manager is lazy or inept. Whether you are working hard behind your closed door or not, you are a leader in your medical practice, get out from behind your desk and lead.
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