Article Date: 6/1/2010

How To Hire An Office Manager
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How To Hire An Office Manager

Follow these three steps to ensure you make the right choice for your office

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q Having practiced for many years, the idea of having an office manager and how to choose the proper person to assign duties and set boundaries has been an ongoing issue. Any suggestions are welcomed.

Dr. J.L Martin
via e-mail

A: Let me address this great topic in three segments.

1. Training and selection

Prior to appointing a manager, you must learn how to manage employees yourself. Once you've accomplished this, you can employ one of three methods to train managers. The first, "learning by doing," is a slow and costly method.

The second, hiring an "outside" employee with a management, human resources or business management degree, is the route that almost all optometrists take. You would train this person to manage the financial aspects of the practice and your people. It's a great choice if you can afford it. Depending on their level of education and experience, the salary would range from $50,000 to $75,000, plus performance commission and benefits.

The third method would be to retain a consultant to evaluate your staff. The doctor/owner and consultant would then select a candidate, and the consultant would mentor the new manager.

If you choose an "in-house" employee to elevate to the manager position, you must teach that person that the new manager cannot be part of the "sorority." Many of my patients worked on the "line" in an auto plant, and several were promoted to foreman. I would mark this fact in the record. The next year, when asked about the job, more than 60% said they gave up the position because line workers were mad at them for attempting to implement standard operating procedures. If the appointee cannot separate himself from the rest of the staff as their superior, you have made the wrong choice.

2. Assigning duties

These can be very diverse. Managers can be assigned to monitor and control cost of goods, percent of salaries to gross, track commissions, human resources, expenses, accounts receivable, accounts payable, overall monitoring of ancillary personal, scheduling of staff and doctors.

Another option is to appoint department leaders who all report to the doctor and/or manager. The departments can be front desk, technicians, opticians, etc.

Don't overload the "plate" of the manager. You and the manager must develop a management flow that includes proper delegation to other employees who report to the manager.

You must oversee the manager. Lax supervision enables a number of bad practices, including ineffective management or even worse, embezzlement.

3. Managing boundaries

If the manager socializes with certain employees and leaves others out, it can create a huge problem. Therefore, the owner must teach the manager the limits of staff interaction, which should be identical to the owner's.

Understand that many employees will resent authority from any superior. You must always support the manager in front of the staff. Critique in private.

There is no one specific "formula" for these issues. Management deals with relationships that are in a constant state of flux. This is why you must have great awareness skills and pay attention to detail. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2010