Getting ready to start a new job as a practice manager? Whether you’re brand new to the industry or you’re joining a new team or you’ve managed to climb to the next rung on the leadership ladder, getting off on the right foot is imperative, not only to your own long-term success, but to that of the practice as well. Let’s take a look at a few tips that can help you hit the ground running and start making a positive impact as soon as possible.
Embrace the Awkwardness
There will almost always be a learning curve when starting a new position, and practice manager is no exception. Understand and accept the fact that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d like right out of the gate. You will likely make mistakes, and that’s ok – as long as you own them and learn from them.
This is especially the case if you are transitioning from another role into practice management. For instance, you may have been a rock star veterinary technician, but that level of confidence will take time to develop in your new role. Be honest and don’t be afraid to ask others when you could use some support.
Change is never easy. Whether you’re brand new to the team or you’re climbing the ladder within the practice, understand and expect that you may encounter some resistance. This will be compounded as you optimize operations and introduce new processes. The best way to combat this is to accept the fact that change is difficult, be forthcoming and transparent, invite your team to share their questions or concerns, and be clear about the why behind your decisions.
Your job is to manage the practice. Recognize that this may require you to be firm in some situations. Taking on the role of disciplinarian can be particularly challenging for someone who has been promoted from within. Suddenly you are no longer a peer but an authority figure. You don’t have to rule with an iron fist, but you should set some boundaries and establish your new role as early as possible.
Just Say ‘No’
If you’ve got a background in veterinary medicine, chances are you’ll be tempted to step in and help your team. This may be fine in a situation where you are short-staffed, but for the most part, you should be focusing your effort on doing your own job and empowering others on your team to do theirs. You’ll learn quickly just how many hats you’ll have to juggle in your new role without adding more to the pile. Be willing to say ‘no’ and delegate when necessary.
If you’re new to practice management, you’re in for a whole host of changes and challenges. Just as you are becoming familiar with your role, your team is also acclimating to you. Be gentle with yourself and remember, at the end of the day, your employees want you to succeed. Sometimes this may require having uncomfortable conversations or making difficult decisions. When times get tough, ask yourself a few key questions:
Is this good for the practice?
Is this good for the client or patient?
Is this good for my team?
If the answer is ‘yes,’ then you are on the right track. Remember – not everyone will always agree with your choices, but they do need to respect them. And earning that respect takes trust, which takes time. Be patient with yourself and before you know it, you’ll have that practice running like a well-oiled, productive and profitable machine!
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