About 30% of the healthcare professionals in Canada employ an Office Manager or Practice Manager in their practices. Many more are considering whether they SHOULD have one, but haven’t made the move yet.
What is an Office Manager?
Some O/Ms are the Receptionist, and some are the only staff – they perform all the office functions and so the owner gave them the O/M title — even though they are not supervising or managing anyone except themselves. At the extreme other end of the spectrum, there are O/Ms in large practices who have team leaders under them running the various departments within the practice.
With all the variations in between those two scenarios, it is not a very codified position and many practice owners debate whether it is a valuable enough position to pay yet another salary for.
Mr. Google defines a manager as: “a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.” Traditionally, in a larger business, a manager does not DO the work of their juniors but hires, trains, supervises and cares for their team under them. In a practice, they usually have their own hands-on functions to do as well.
Prime skills would be:
- Able to get along well with people
- Able to give orders and get compliance
- Able to do the functions under their supervision
- Able to train and get their staff to effectively produce
- Able to do their own job while supervising others
- Able to decide on correct importances and priorities
- Able to organize and improve efficiency in themselves and others
- Able to care for their staff and keep them happy and productive.
When should you hire an O/M?
Approximately 50% of the practices in Canada have less than 5 staff and are not busy enough to genuinely need an O/M per se. A practice owner, with good management and leadership skills and proper job descriptions and protocols for the existing staff, can efficiently manage and expand their practice themselves, and avoid the additional salary for now.
When the number of staff rises above 5, this would be a good moment to elevate someone from within if possible to be an O/M – basically, your deputy, and make them in charge of carrying out the duties and actions to support and forward your goals as the practice owner.
If you have promoted or hired the right person, by the way, you will know you have if the profitability of the practice increases. This increase, by the way, will help cover the O/Ms salary and more.
(Related: 5 SERIOUSLY GOOD HIRING QUESTIONS )
Do not abdicate!
Having an O/M does NOT mean that you as the practice owner can abdicate from (step down from or run away from) being the overall person responsible for the setting the goals, making the major decisions of the practice, and ensuring its success. It is still your reputation, license and profitability that needs to be in your own hands. However, the act of delegating the day to day management duties to a responsible person under you is a smart move when the practice is big enough.
P.S.: Never forget that the O/M has a supervisor too – and that is YOU!