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    Some days you just have to be the manager

    Why being a manager is just as important as being a leader in your practice.

    I have been reading and studying the difference between leadership and management, and was starting to feel that management was a four letter word. Yes, leadership is king; we all have to lead if our team is going to be great, and our practice is going to be in the top five percent of the practices in the nation, but leadership isn't everything.

    As I studied this, I had to come down to earth for just a few minutes and realize that there has to be a lot of management, right alongside our leadership. As practicing dentists, we don’t have the time to answer the phone and make sure that you have enough composite, all while doing that crown prep. The bad news is that does not release us from the need to manage all the things that are necessary to run a practice.

    When does this happen, all this managing?

    Before work, after work, during lunch, on days off, on dedicated training days, at dental meetings, at staff outing and lunches, when you mark off time for a consultant to train. To a lesser degree it is sort of like asking, “how do we parent our children?” We do some of it on the fly, when others are watching us give them an example. That is the scary part: employees will watch us, see if we are consistent in our values and actions, and base their conception of our leadership on some of these day-to-day interactions.

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    Systems and processes we have to manage are:

    1. Get all managers and, in our case, all team members to commit to the practice goals and vision. This means you have to actually have some written goals before you can expect others to commit.

    2. You have to get buy-in of the team to the vision and goals. This involves sharing and discussion of the what and why and how.

    3. You have to manage all the systems and processes you go through to run an office. That is everything from answering the phone to billing to buying supplies. Since you don’t have time to do this personally, you have to train and trust someone else to do this.

    4. You have to manage the focus on customer service and customer experience, and ultimately their satisfaction and their willingness to refer to the office.

    5. You have to manage all the resources of the office: time, people, supplies, office space, funds and patient care.

    6. You have to manage the organizational behavior and the culture of the office. This often takes training of the team and clear instructions from you.

    7. You have to manage the continuous improvement of systems, behavior and dental skills, along with equipment and technology.

    8. You have to manage the training and continuing education of yourself and your team.

    It's time to ask: Are you a leader or a manager?

    Up next: What do choose, leadership or management? 

    David Black
    Drawing on over 40 years of clinical experience, Dr. Black focuses on speaking and coaching through in-office consultation. Dr. Black ...

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