So your hard work has finally paid off, and you’ve been promoted from front office personnel to the role of medical practice manager. Congratulations! But how exactly is your job going to change? What does your boss expect? How will your coworkers react? These are very natural questions, especially if your promotion was sudden or unanticipated.
If you are like most medical practice managers, you were promoted from within. Over the years you may have learned some of the tasks involved with the job, such as handling finances, and basic human resources. But, you have received no formal management training.
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Success as a medical practice manager means keeping track of business operations as well as handling staff too. You must motivate your staff, communicate well, and problem solve to keep the practice running smoothly. That way the doctors can focus on their patients.
Here are a few steps to help you transition into your new role.
1. Understand Your Employer’s Objectives
If you’ve already been hired, your employer probably thinks you’re a good fit. That said, are you supposed to do the job exactly as your predecessor did? Or, does your employer have something new in mind? Are there long-term goals that were never completed? Are there responsibilities that were left out? Are there operations that your employer would like to see improved?
Even if you’ve watched someone else perform the job, take the time to go over your new job description and make sure that you are on the same page as your employer. Then you can set the practice’s short- and long-term goals. If you have skills that your predecessor did not, offer to bring something new to the table. For example, if you’re a computer wiz, you could offer to give all employees in-depth software training in order to make everyone more productive.
This is hard for any new manager. You probably got ahead by doing things yourself. But now it is your job to learn to delegate effectively. You must force yourself to stay in the pilot seat and trust your staff to do their jobs. If you’re really having trouble letting go of your former responsibilities, set up some training (or cross-training) sessions with your team. Even if you feel like you can do a task better than your staff, avoid micromanaging. You will loose cooperation and may even create resentment (especially if you were promoted over someone else).
Remember that giving new tasks to your employees helps improve their self-sufficiency and resourcefulness. Try to see delegating as giving yourself the gift of time to grow and shine in your new role.
In some practices, most systems were put in place some time ago. If you find that there aren’t ever enough hours in the day or enough hands available to get things done, you should strongly consider outsourcing certain tasks. Nowadays new outsourcing opportunities abound. Look to outsource tasks that:
- Are unskilled, repetitive and take time to do by hand, such as making appointment reminders.
- Would cost less to outsource, such as payroll.
- Keep causing people to quit.
- Require constant up-to-date training, such as medical billing.
Get some quotes and show your employer how much money and time can be saved. Be sure to do your homework and get references before making any such proposal to your boss. Don’t take a “no” as a failure. After all, most of us are a bit afraid of change. Give your boss some time to warm up to new ideas.
4. Shift Gears
Transitioning into a practice manager role can be hard if you must now manage your former friends. Maintaining those friendships can be difficult. You want your staff to respect your authority and understand that you can’t play favorites. That said, dropping friendships over a promotion will not win you any support.
The best thing to do is to continue to be yourself, but discontinue any unprofessional behavior such as office gossip or management-bashing. Instead, lead by example by working hard. Do remember to be warm and to continue any friendly activities you had before your promotion, such as going out for a cup of coffee with your best work buddy. Good friends should be able to handle your promotion. Especially if you can figure out how not to flaunt it.
5. Keep Learning
If you’ve never had any experience managing staff, you should really try to take a management course. You can find them online or at a local college. Management courses can help you get things under control without reinventing the wheel.
After all, nobody is born knowing human resources processes or how to motivate people, or how to handle things during a crisis. Look for classes in human relations, project management, and employee empowerment.
At the very least, look into free resources for budding managers such as online articles, videos, and podcasts. Or, spend a few dollars on management books and webinars.
Ready to Transition to Practice Manager?
Transitioning to the role of medical practice manager is not always an easy task. But if you focus on creating a game plan with your boss, learning how to delegate and getting some management tools, you will find yourself managing others with ease. For more ideas, please check out our Office Manager Survival Guide.