September is right around the corner, 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 Manager Appreciation Month (OMAM). OMAM was created by CareCredit and the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM). Office managers often create office culture and uphold the systems and rules of the dental practice. While appreciation should be expressed for each team member, this article is specifically geared toward office managers.
Office managers deserve recognition
Office managers have a unique and important role in a dental practice. They often manage human resources, scheduling, compliance, reporting, office production, collection, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, treatment coordination, insurance coordination, and training, just to name a few duties. As well, many office managers take management responsibilities off busy practice owners’ plates, which makes them trusted and invaluable assets. Effective office managers contribute significantly to practice success, while underperforming office managers can greatly hinder practice morale, productivity, and growth. When a great manager chooses to move on to another opportunity, it can be costly in more ways than one.
Office managers tend to set the tone for office personality and morale. An office manager often coordinates staff appreciation efforts, recognizing birthdays and employment anniversaries. These efforts will result in a team that feels appreciated. When staff members feel appreciated, they will often be more apt to perform as a team, help and support one another, and go the extra mile for the dental practice. This enhances the office environment and productivity.
Ideas to show your appreciation
There are many ways to express appreciation. Some managers may appreciate individual recognition, such as a monetary bonus, time off, a small gift, flowers, or a verbal affirmation or card. Others may prefer recognition with the team, such as a team lunch or dessert. If you aren’t sure what your office manager would prefer, there is good information on the DE website that details personality characteristics so we can most effectively communicate with our patients and dental teams. Understanding your office manager’s personality type and value system will help you to identify the perfect way to show your appreciation.
If you need help deciding how to celebrate your office manager, CareCredit and AADOM have you covered. Visit CareCredit/OMAM for inspiration and engaging social media posts! AADOM has many resources that provide education, tools, and an engaged community for office managers to grow. They offer memberships that provide many benefits and an exceptional annual conference specifically for office managers. Some office managers would treasure the support of the dentist to further their education, have more impact in the practice, and grow professionally.
If you still aren’t sure, a foolproof way to understand your manager’s preferences is to ask them. In our office, we discussed this as a team. We investigated how each team member prefers to be appreciated and discussed how each person communicates when things aren’t going well. This allows us to communicate effectively and mindfully when it is time to celebrate or when there are opportunities for improvement.
Just do it
Many dental practices are still trying to overcome the challenges associated with the limited availability of qualified employees needed to accommodate our schedules and patients. This adds stress on practice owners, associate dentists, and the team. As a result, we might ignore an opportunity to celebrate those who have displayed loyalty and have positively contributed to our practices. Don’t do that! This is a chance to stop, look around, and appreciate those who have been great employees and leaders. This will enhance your work environment and make your practice more attractive to potential employees.
Finally, share the fun things you do in your office. Sharing your celebrations on social media engages patients and prospective team members. Take photos or a video and share it on social. Your current patients love to see you celebrate, and 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. Use #OMAM and #AwesomeOM and tag us in your celebration to be featured in our stories!
Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.