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September is Office Manager Appreciation Month. How are you celebrating?

Aug. 10, 2022
Everyone knows how important a great office manager is to the practice. Here are ideas to show them how much they mean during OM Appreciation Month!

September will be here before we know it, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in end-of-summer and back-to-school activities. But don’t forget, September is also Office Managers’ Appreciation Month! While many dental practices are experiencing shortages in qualified personnel, it has never been more important to appreciate those who show up for work each day with a positive attitude and contribute to the success of our practices. It is our opinion that appreciation should be expressed for each team member, but our focus here is on the office manager. 

Office managers are invaluable to a practice 

Office managers have a particularly important role in the dental practice. They’re often responsible for human resources, scheduling, compliance, reporting, monitoring office production, collection, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, treatment coordination, insurance coordination, and training, to name just a few responsibilities. Moreover, many office managers reduce the management responsibilities of dental practice owners, which, in many cases, makes them an invaluable asset to a practice. Underperforming office managers can significantly hinder the success and growth of a dental practice. On the other hand, it can be extremely costly and impact office morale if a great manager moves onto another opportunity without a proper replacement. 

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Office managers set the tone for the personality of the practice and office morale. An office manager often coordinates staff appreciation efforts, such as birthdays and employment anniversaries. These efforts result in a team that feels appreciated. When a dental team feels appreciated, they’re more apt to perform as a team, help and support one another, and go the extra mile. This enhances the office environment and productivity. 

How do dentists measure up?

We conducted a recent poll on the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) Facebook Page to gauge appreciation for office managers. When asked if they feel appreciated, 72% of respondents replied “yes” and 28% replied “no.” Recognizing Office Managers’ Appreciation Month will enhance the appreciation of those who feel appreciated and hopefully improve the sentiments of those who can use a little more acknowledgement. 

What’s an acceptable form of appreciation?

There are many ways to express appreciation. Some managers prefer an individual recognition, such as a monetary bonus, time off, a small gift, flowers, a verbal affirmation, or a card. Others may want to be recognized with the team, maybe with a team lunch or dessert. If you aren’t sure what your office manager prefers, there’s a wealth of information on Dental Economics, including this article on emotional intelligence, that details personality characteristics so we can most effectively communicate with our patients and teams. If you understand the personality type and value system of your office manager, you will know the perfect way to appreciate them. 

We asked what makes office managers feel the most appreciated in our Facebook poll of AADOM members.

  • Monetary bonus: 52%
  • Verbal recognition: 34%
  • Something else: 8%
  • Gifts: 4%
  • Activities: 2% 

If you still aren’t sure, a foolproof way to understand your manager’s preferences is to ask how they feel the most appreciated. We discussed this as a team in our office. We investigated how each team member prefers to be appreciated and discussed how each person communicates when things aren’t going well or during a challenge. This allows us to communicate effectively and mindfully when it’s time to celebrate or when there are opportunities for improvement.  

There’s no time like the present

Many dental practices are facing the challenges associated with the reduced availability of qualified employees. This increases stress on practice owners, practicing dentists, and employees. This may cause us to overlook the opportunity to celebrate those who have been loyal and positively contributed to our practices. Don’t miss this boat! Office Manager Appreciation Month is a great opportunity to stop, look around, and appreciate those who have been great employees and leaders. You may find that this will enhance your work environment and make your practice attractive to potential new employees. 

And remember, don’t celebrate in solitude. We live in a time where if it isn’t  posted on social media, it didn’t happen! Take photos or a video of your event and share it on social. Your patients enjoy seeing their dental practices celebrate and your prospective patients want to see behind-the-scenes footage of a happy and fun dental practice. We will be celebrating office managers all month @dentaleconomicsofficial on Instagram. Tag us in your celebration to be featured in our stories!

Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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