Thursday Troubleshooter: How can I successfully delegate some OM responsibilities?
Delegating is not as easy as it looks
QUESTION: As a dental office manager I am expected to delegate some of my responsibilities. However, when I do delegate, the results are often less than I expected, and I end up wishing I had just done the job myself. How can I get better results?
ANSWER FROM LISA MARIE SPRADLEY, the “Front Desk Lady” of TCB Dental Consulting:
First let me say that I love this question. Delegating sounds awesome, doesn't it? Getting everyone to help get things done in the office efficiently and quickly is what every office manager dreams about. That is, right up until someone does something that is not quite the way we want it done. How do we get things done and done right when we are not doing them ourselves?
The first thing that we have to realize is that doing something right is all in one’s perspective. Perhaps the right way to you does not make sense to someone else. Maybe, and you're not going to like this one, there is more than one way to get the job done!
As an office manager, I know that I am a bit obsessive. It's what makes me good at what I do, and for some it's why we have the title office manager. We pay attention to detail and work hard to not let any small task go undone. There are times, however, when we need to realize that sharing our responsibilities with our team not only increases productivity, but also creates a happier work environment. This makes us a better team, and that makes our patients and dentist happy.
My advice for you is to make sure that you clearly explain what needs to be accomplished and provide detailed instructions as needed. Be open to suggestions, and never shoot down an idea just because something “has never been done that way.” Always allow and encourage your team to give feedback, and be sure that you acknowledge their efforts. Whether or not their ideas work, they will be more willing to follow your instructions if they see that your way really does work best. Being an office manager requires many skills, and one of the toughest is knowing when to step back and allow your team to help you get the job done. Delegating will help you achieve that goal.
Good luck, and I hope this helps!
ANSWER FROM JUDY KAY MASOULF, Founder of Practice Solutions Inc:
Delegation can be difficult for many of us. We usually want something done a certain way, very quickly, and we are often times much better at doing a job than the person we are delegating it to. Understanding the mindset and process to effectively delegate will help eliminate the frustration and reap successful results.
There is always a learning curve. The first time you do any task it will never be as proficient as you will be after doing it multiple times. It is important to allow the team the opportunity to grow and learn. Otherwise, you will limit your team members to doing only what they have already excelled at doing.
When you delegate it is important to use the following steps.
1. Clarify expectations by sharing exactly who, what, when, where, and how you would like something to be done. Clear and precise expectations will eliminate assumptions and misunderstandings.
2. Ask questions to make sure the team member understands your expectations.
3. If it will take more than two steps, write them down in bullet points. Often times the team member will toggle out (stop listening) after a couple of steps because they start thinking about how they will accomplish the task or how they will work it into their day.
4. If it is a large project, schedule a check-in time(s) for the person to keep you updated on his or her progress. This will also enable you to give the person ongoing support and answer any questions that may arise.
5. Establish and agree on a realistic goal date to complete the task, and schedule a final check-in and update that the task has been completed.
6. Show your appreciation by thanking the person for a job well done!
Implementing these six steps when delegating will help your entire team obtain amazing results!
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