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  • Writer's pictureKristen Herring-Asleson

Going Solo to Leader . . . Are You Ready?

Oftentimes, as shared before, women who work ask for advice. Last week, a new therapy office decided the office manager was clearly busy enough that they decided to add a part-time team member to help out. Although there is no simple formula as to when this should happen, it is important to grow staff along with the business growth.

This office manager reached out wanting how to handle this, how to make it work, and where to even start.

In general, new offices or startup businesses do not have standard operating procedures, job descriptions, policies, etc., finalized or even in draft form. Admittedly, as business grows and more people are hired, the more challenging it can feel for the once-solo office manager. Complications do arise, so getting started as soon as possible on the above will alleviate many issues that could arise.

First and foremost, the existing manager must realize they will soon become the leader. With leadership becomes a shift in not only responsibilities and goals but also in attitude and qualities (of course, remaining a manager is just fine, but, be a leader). It’s time to stop being known as the “jack of all trades” and divide to conquer.

To get started, a little bit of work was given. That was, truly look at the job you do and track all your tasks, duties, responsibilities and expectations daily for an entire week. Meaning, write it down. Seems tedious, but so important.

Secondly, after observing all that is done for the job comes writing job descriptions. With writing these, keep in mind what can be handed off to the new employee and what should continue to be more in the manager’s hands due to the nature of the task. In addition, the office manager/leader must leave room to take on more as the business continues to grow.

What is crucial to think with this step is to remember what is most important to the business growth. In this case, it is patients. Without patients, there would be no growth in revenue. So, divide and conquer what it takes to get the patient in the door, checked in, and back to see the consultant. That alone could be the focus of the new staff member, along with incoming phone calls.

This leaves the office manager or leader with the complexities behind the scenes, which are also necessary for growth. Tasks such as billing, insurance submissions, medical records and answering patient questions after being seen are included in the manager’s job description.

Cross training employees comes into play in this scenario as well. Although each office staff member would have their own job description, it is critical they are also able to perform the other person's job in order to effectively fill in during absences, vacations, etc. Not one single task should go unperformed due to another’s absence.

Now, if you are the owner of the business, prior to making the decision to hire more, consider these things:

  1. Do the consultants have enough patients to provide enough work to warrant two staff members?

  2. Are the proper systems and processes in place?

  3. Are your records paper? Electronic? All automated?

If you say “no” to either one, two or both, take a step back and examine why you feel the need to hire. And, depending on your answer to number three, be sure you know how much time is actually needed for the paperwork and other procedures. Know your business and know what you are asking of your current employees before you add to the staff just because you think they are busy.

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