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3 Traits of a Great Practice Manager

06/10/2019

All practices will hit a point where there just isn’t enough time and headspace for a single owner to see all the patients, manage the team, and run the business.  In order to grow, the owner has to delegate something.  The first thing most owners will do is hire or promote a manager to take over day to day operations.

This is often the difference between a single-owner practice plateauing at $750,000 or $900,000 in revenues and generating $1,200,000 to $1,400,000 in revenue – with just one OD.  But the wrong manager will be either ineffectual or even a hindrance to an owner’s goals.

So what should you look for when hiring or promoting a manager? Here are three key things to keep in mind.

Lead and hold people accountable

Just in terms of production, the biggest hindrance to an owner tends to be getting pulled aside to hand simple customer service questions or staff conflicts.  The most critical thing to look for in a manager is someone who can deal with your staff so you don’t have to.

A good manager of people has to have two seemingly opposite character traits: a backbone and empathy.  A backbone because the manager has to be the owner's representative to the staff, taking the owner’s side always when dealing with the team, even when they don’t like the answer he or she gives them.  Empathy, because without being able to honor the staff’s feelings and needs, you’ll just have a tyrant for a manager, provoking so much conflict and stress that you’d be better off without a ‘manager’.

Get ‘stuff’ done

Because an OD owner can do so much in the way of revenue generation, anything to free up time to see more patients is a huge value to the practice.  As practices grow, there are many projects that need to be taken on – your EHR might change, new staff need an on-boarding plan, marketing strategies need to be implemented.

A good manager is someone you can trust to take projects to completion without supervision.  Someone who can balance the time spent on putting the staff schedule together and dealing with patient service question while finishing longer-term projects in a timely manner, or directing another team member to help.

Complement your weaknesses

This is more of a ‘nice to have’, but it’s a good exercise to go through.  Ask yourself: what aspects of management or administrative tasks do I hate doing?  Whatever it is, it’s probably a weakness of yours as well.  If you can find a manager who is GOOD at the thing you dislike, who enjoys it even, you’ll make your practice even stronger, because you’ll be free to focus on the things you ARE good at.

A good manager is worth his or her weight in gold, and managers are critical to a practice’s ability to grow over the long haul.  Basically any of our IDOC consultants can give you feedback on this key role in your office; don’t hesitate to contact us for feedback and advice on how to leverage a good manager to make your practice really work for you.

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AUTHOR

IDOC Optometry - Color Bar
Nathan Hayes

Nathan Hayes

Nathan serves as IDOC’s Practice Finance Consultant and developed the unique 3-Year Growth Plan, as a benchmarking, planning and decision-making tool for ODs. He also writes and lectures on various practice management topics. Nathan graduated from Vanderbilt University in three years, with a degree in Spanish and a minor in mathematics. After graduating, he spent a year working abroad. During that time, he worked for two firms in San Jose, Costa Rica. He interned with Grupo Juridico de San Jose, working in environmental policy to protect a threatened parcel of land, then he worked as a project manager for a US-owned precision machining shop, Olympic Precision Machining. Nathan then spent 6 months working with street children and orphans in Mexico. Before getting into the healthcare industry, he was an Assistant Store Manager and completed the Corporate Training Program with Haverty's Furniture Company in Atlanta, GA. Nathan serves on the advisory board for the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at the Southern College of Optometry.