5 Things You Didn’t Know About Being a Dental Office Manager

by | Mar 10, 2020 | Dental Job, Dental Professionals, Work Life | 1 comment

Thinking of becoming a Manager?  

Here are 5 things they never tell you about being a Dental Office Manager.  

A logical progression from being a Dental Assistant or a Front Office Receptionist/Dental Treatment Coordinator is to eventually work your way up to an office manager position.  And good for you!  

 Being promoted or accepting a new position as a Dental Office manager can be thrilling!  You worked hard for this position and you should enjoy every minute of it.  

However… there are some not-so-great parts of being a dental office manager.  This post brings those items to your attention and shows you how to handle them. 

#1 You have a LOT to learn  

This is twofold.  You will have to handle every aspect of the dental practice AND learn how to manage and lead a dental team.  Even if you are following in the footsteps of the best manager ever and they trained you on “everything” you needed to know, hiccups are still going to occur. 

 The Fix: If you come across an item in running the practice that isn’t personnel-related, either Google it or join a Facebook Dental Office Manager group where you can reach out to thousands of your peers to see how they feel.  This is the Office Manager group I currently follow and they offer great advice!

The harder fix is personnel issues.  Managing people is CHALLENGING! And will be the absolute HARDEST part of your job.  When you come across personnel issues you need help with, think to the best manager you had.  What would they do? Even better, if you still have connections to them, reach out. They will be flattered and will surely be able to help.  Also, read or listen to books, articles or podcasts on leadership.  

Mastering leadership is what is truly going to catapult you and your dental practice into a success!  

#2 You are going to be the bad guy

 Being a Dental Office Manager means your Dentist and you are going to develop and roll out systems that the rest of the staff are not going to be too thrilled about.  Change is hard. But it will be up to you to hold the team accountable in following the new programs. You will also be the one responsible for the tough conversations when an employee is unmotivated.  Even the best team is going to be annoyed or upset with the person in charge.  

 It’s lonely at the top. 

 The Fix:  Learn how to have those hard conversations and how to handle an unmotivated employee.  Understand, that some people just like to be upset and blame others when they are unhappy.  But the biggest way to deal with this is to find yourself a confidant. Ideally, someone else who is in a management position.  Someone who will understand your pain. When you find them, DON’T make the mistake of allowing yourselves to have constant pity parties.  Rather, cheer each other up and let them remind you that YOU GOT THIS!  


#3 People will leave

People move on.  Your best Registered Dental Assistant or Hygienist is going to find another position and you are going to panic.  Or worse, take it personally. And that is natural. You most likely trained and watched this person grow. But watching your people leave the nest is a good thing!  Remind yourself you did right by them and they get to spread that knowledge.  

The Fix: Let yourself be upset for a moment, and then feel positive about the new blood that you will get to bring in to replace them.  Sometimes fresh personnel can be the best thing for your practice. Hiring and scheduling working interviews are easier than ever on DirectDental.  You can post jobs for free or work with their staffing team to find the perfect new hire! 


#4 It is time-consuming

I remember when I finally broke into management I thought my workload was going to be extremely light and I was going to get to work on the items I wanted to work on.  It’s hilarious to think back to my naivety. Hopefully, you won’t make that same mistake. Because being a manager means you spend all day doing everything and end the day feeling like you accomplished nothing.  

Have I mentioned being a Dental Office Manager is hard?  

Everything falls on you,  all your staff’s assignments, patient issues, making sure production and collections are where they need to be.  And you will never have enough hours to do so.  

The Fix: Allot time accordingly.  You don’t need an open-door policy all day long.  Let your team know what is considered an emergency and block off time where you are only to be interrupted if those items are happening.  This will allow you to block off time to be productive and get your work done. But keep this time to a minimum. 2 hours max. The rest of the time you should be available to your team to assist as needed.  

#5 Communication is key!

It has been proven time and again that building a team and office culture that openly gives and receives feedback is what leads a practice to success.  Focusing on making a group of individuals that feels comfortable coming to you and your dentist with ideas or issues, will enable growth and prosperity.  It is your job to make sure this happens!

The Fix:  Develop a system that allows for open feedback.  Whether that is a weekly team meeting, monthly one-on-ones, or an extended Morning Huddle to allow everyone to speak.  Make sure if a team member has something negative to say they are not punished for it.  They should feel comfortable and safe coming to you with concerns.   


I hope this post has given you some great insight into what it takes to be a dental office manager.  

 Ready to start applying to Office Manager Positions?