Being an effective dental practice owner

July 6, 2023

Being an effective dental practice owner requires skillful delegation

Being an effective dental practice owner requires skillful delegation.

Attempting to micromanage every aspect while also providing chairside care hinders productivity and growth. The concept of delegation seems promising: "I can focus on treating patients while my office manager and team handle everything else!" However, real-life scenarios often differ.

While you're focused on patient care, issues arise: the schedule becomes disorganized, appointments are in the wrong slots, new patient influx is insufficient, overdue bills accumulate, and collections decline. Since you weren't initially involved in these administrative tasks, and potentially lack knowledge of your staff's activities and procedures, resolving the issues becomes challenging.

Your options are limited: either reprimand the office manager and hope they rectify the situation or intrude into the front office (an unfamiliar territory) and clumsily give orders. Neither of these options aligns with effective management.

Let’s introduce two rules for successful delegation:

1 - Comprehend before assigning: Counterintuitively, you must possess proficiency in a task to cease performing it. If you lack effective skills, you'll remain stuck with the responsibility, regardless of attempts to delegate it.

“Never ask anyone to do what you haven’t done before and wouldn’t do again. That’s a pretty fundamental rule in leadership…treat them like you treat yourself. Things you don’t like, they don’t like.” ~ Ross Perot

Consider this example: You lack clear policies or systems for scheduling patients, yet you assign an employee to manage the schedule without proper guidance. The outcome? A chaotic schedule with patients scheduled too closely, failure to understand why certain procedures cannot be back-to-back, and a patient arriving for a crown placement before the lab case is ready. Consequently, you find yourself handling the schedule personally.

Another example: You feel uncomfortable discussing fees or arranging financial matters with patients, so you hire a treatment coordinator to handle it. However, two possibilities arise: a) You strike luck by hiring an exceptional salesperson, resulting in high productivity. But what happens if they go on maternity leave or relocate? You can't perform the job as proficiently and struggle to find an equivalent replacement, leading to a significant drop in production. Or b) You hire someone but fail to provide adequate training due to your own inadequate skills, resulting in poor case acceptance or the need to handle the task yourself.

In both examples, if you had taken full responsibility for those duties and mastered them, losing an employee would be manageable. You could temporarily compensate with minimal decline in production and confidently train a replacement. Therefore, effective delegation involves four steps: understanding the task, establishing policies, providing sufficient training, and maintaining oversight with corrective measures.

2 - Unavoidable responsibilities of a business owner: Certain core responsibilities of a business owner cannot be delegated to others. These include financial oversight, providing direction and purpose, planning, creating or approving office policies, overseeing specific HR matters, and reviewing essential statistics. These duties don't have to be time-consuming, but they must be fulfilled.

Consider this example of "over-delegation":  Some dentists delegate and “someone else” doesn’t finish or makes a bad decision. Let’s say you feel raising fees or dropping a PPO is your office managers duty. Well, what if they do it wrong. This is YOUR business and it must be a CEO decision.

As a business coach, I help with the confusion and get you laser focused to reach your goals. Schedule a call, let’s chat. I am passionate about helping dental offices thrive

Website Design and Internet Marketing byOptima