More ways to improve your reputation as a great practice manager.
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.
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.
Make no-gossip policies a formal policy addition to the employee handbook, and avoid adding to or stirring gossip up in the office.
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 or phone calls, 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 blood pressure) ask your staff to train you; they will respect you for it.
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 services and practice 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.
A practice manager must apply fundamental principles of administration and leadership as she learns how to accomplish tasks with her staff. Effective practice management is the ability to influence people so that they willingly and enthusiastically strive toward the achievement of practice goals. Hard work and high morale are compatible and good practice managers can inspire and direct their people under both normal and adverse conditions.
Demonstrate respect, hard work, gratitude, kindness, professional dress, proper work ethic, and timeliness. Also, avoid unscheduled absences, and your staff will follow your example.
Not only meet with them but listen, and thoroughly review their proposal for your clinic with your physician(s). I know, shocking right? 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 physicians 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 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.
Hold team and department meetings and encourage communication between staff members and departments, and also between you and the departments. Don’t shoot down ideas, promote problem solving, seek consensus about group decisions, and channel conflict towards positive outcomes.
Practice reflection (any style you choose, such as meditation). Model core values of compassion, integrity, service, and learning to your team. Learn to better regulate your use of power and control.
Group training as an entire office is as important as individual certifications and trainings. It helps build a team environment and can help your entire staff to better serve your patients.
In the words of Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” between stimulus and response there is space, and that space represents a choice of how to deal with a situation, person, thought, or event.”
Often times a “lazy office manager” or a “bad office manager” is no more than an office manager in need of some solid leadership skills and training. 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. Implement these items in your office, go forth and lead!