Promoting your Dental Assistant to Office Manager

Promoting your Dental Assistant to Office Manager

By: Belle DuCharme, CDPMA, Dental Training Consultant

There are many dental assistants who have been successfully promoted to Office Manager because of their better than average communication skills and their knowledge of dental procedures and scheduling.  This promotion is usually not accompanied by a transition period but happens quickly as to not upset practice routine. To successfully manage this transition the entire team must be informed and assured that nothing is going to change as far as their work and job descriptions.

A team meeting is the best step to make the announcement and to issue any new directives involved with the transition.  One new directive might mean that the new Office Manager will no longer be working in the back office as a dental assistant.  The remaining assistants would have to pick up the slack until a new dental assistant is hired and be available to help on board the new assistant.  

There may be envy or possibly jealousy to deal with when the other dental assistants realize their peer and “friend” is now the manager.   

Whenever a peer, and especially a friend, becomes a manager within the same practice, there is an adjustment period.  Having the team stay on friendly terms and help to make the change is important to practice success. No drama or negativity should be tolerated and should be dealt with immediately before it becomes a toxic situation.

The new Office Manager is relying on the team for moral support and cooperation as she/he learns the responsibilities of the new position.

Suggested advice to the team to help with the transition of the new Office Manager:

Step 1: Accept that change has occurred and that your relationship will therefore change. You must intentionally compartmentalize your personal friendship from your work relationship.

Step 2: Talk to your new manager about how she/he wants to adjust your relationship. For example, she/he may want some distance at first to avoid claims of preferential treatment.

Step 3: Treat your new manager with the same level of respect as you did previous managers and work at the same performance level.

Step 4: Other Dental assistants: Understand that the previous relationship with your new manager could have an impact on relationships with other workers in the practice. Be careful to maintain the confidences of your co-workers and refrain from divulging personal information to your new manager and damaging the critical trust of your team.

Step 5:  Congratulate your co-worker on her/his promotion and celebrate their success.

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