Many dental practices start out as a small clinic and gradually grow bigger. As your team becomes larger and you have more patients, you might want to hire a manager (or two). But how many is enough? Some clinics have 3 or 4 managers, even when the actual staff count is less than 25. Some people assume managers are inevitable beyond a certain point. But that’s not always true.
In fact, there is such a thing as too many managers. If you feel that is the case in your office, may be it’s time to reevaluate the situation. You might have a problem on your hands if you depend on managers to manage staff instead of things in your office. People don’t like to be ‘managed.’ Hiring a manager is not an inevitable task like paying more taxes when your profits increase. Some of the largest and most successful practices don’t have more than 1 or 2 managers. Managers bring important skills to the table but is that what your clinic needs?
When Does Hiring a Manager Make Sense?
Just because your practice grew from a handful of dentists to a 25 member team doesn’t mean you need a manager. Very few dental practices need an HR manager for instance. Deficiencies in certain areas can mean you need to hire more people for the same job, rather than a manager. Is your receptionist overworked? Or maybe your hygienist doesn’t have enough time to see all patients? Then you need more people, not managers.
Managers are useful in certain situations. If you have too many things to manage, that’s when you hire a manager. Does your inventory system need an overhaul? Is your supply chain as efficient as it could be? Do you need someone to manage your accounts or sales? These are all areas where managers are invaluable and even necessary. Don’t make your receptionist manage stuff like ordering paper and ink for the printers. Why should your hygienist worry about suppliers not making deliveries on time?
As technology makes its way into clinics, you might need an IT manager. Someone should take care of all the computers and machines in the office. Is your practice deploying a new EHR or switching over to a new service/vendor? You might want to hire a manager to oversee the project and manage the service in the future.
When your clinic was small, everyone pitched in to make things work. But as you grow bigger, it becomes a drain on their time and effort. If hiring a manager helps your staff devote more time to tasks that require their skills, then it is a good idea. If you don’t see that happening, ask yourself why you want to hire one in the first place. You don’t need someone hovering over your shoulder telling you to do your job. Well, neither do your employees!
As a practice owner, you have to lead people. Your employees are not tools or uneducated workers on an assembly line. They are highly trained professionals who like to be creative and come up with solutions when problems arise. Delegate responsibility, not tasks and checklists. It promotes a sense of ownership in your employees and they’re more likely to step up when you need help. Train your staff to make decisions and get out of the way to let them work. Managing things is not the same as leadership. People want leaders, not managers. Managers are not a silver bullet that can solve any problem for your practice. Just like any other tool or professional, you have to know when and how to use them.