AADOM News |4 min read

Enhancing the Relationship Between Office Manager and Dentist

Jennifer Steadman with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

The dentist and practice administrator relationship is an important one.

Both are leaders in the practice, and if they don’t show a united front, the team and patients will sense it.

Working together and empowering each other shows the team what trust truly is.

Keep reading for tips on making your dental practice stronger, starting with enhancing the relationship between the office manager and dentist.

Defining responsibilities

Defining the dental office manager’s responsibilities is an important part of building the dentist/manager relationship.

Create a job description together of what each of you is responsible for.

For example:

Maybe the dentist likes to pay the bills but doesn’t want to have to worry about payroll.

By letting each other know what you like to do and where your strengths and weaknesses are, you can determine where you can help each other.

Playing the parents

Let’s say a team member asks the dentist a non-clinical question about taking time off.

The dentist approves the time off verbally for the team member. The dentist has all good intentions and wants to help solve challenges.

They have not realized that the same team member has already asked the manager, who then asked for a little time to find appropriate coverage so they can be sure that the patients are taken care of.

Oh, and:

Two other team members are already approved to take that week off.

If team members are used to going to the dentist for everything, you need to address the change in the chain of communication.

At a team meeting, the dentist needs to share the responsibilities of the practice manager.

They should formally tell the team they need to go to the manager for requests or concerns because they’re the ones managing the business.

By doing so, they empower the practice manager and let the team know the dentist trusts and supports them to lead the team and protect the business.

If a team member then goes to the dentist and asks a non-clinical question again, the dentist can say:

“Please go to the manager for that.”

Weekly catchup

Everyone in the dental office is busy.


By scheduling a weekly “catch up” manager/dentist meeting, you can table some things that happen during the week to discuss at a later time, like the team member that asked about taking time off!

By doing so, you can address them together when you both have time and are focused on the topic at hand.

Weekly meetings help build communication and allow you to update each other on events and project progress from the week.

Talk about your goals for the next week, month, and year.

By setting goals, you can work on accomplishing them together and update each other on the progress.

Empowering each other

Not only is it essential to communicate regularly, but you also need to show each other praise and appreciation.

Sometimes we forget to do this because we’re busy, and we tend to focus on the negatives instead of the positives.

Start today!

Make a list of everything you appreciate about each other and share it!

Power by association

Dentists, I encourage you to empower your practice manager to learn, grow, and network with other managers, just like you do with other dentists.

They’ll gain knowledge and fresh ideas that you might not have thought of, which can enhance your practice and patient experience.

Offer to get them a membership to the American Association of Dental Practice Management (AADOM).

AADOM is a network of like-minded dental managers and dentists that want to learn and grow together. They encourage and mentor one another positively.

The education AADOM provides from world-class speakers and consultants is included with your membership.

Join the AADOM Tribe and attend the annual conference together. You’ll both benefit from the conference, and by attending it together, you show your manager how much you support them.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Steadman in a blue blazerJennifer Steadman, BSDH, RDH, DAADOM, specializes in business operations, recruitment and interview strategies, team development, and communication.

Her career has evolved from dental assistant, hygienist, practice manager, and now to her current role. In 2020, she was named AADOM’s Practice Administrator of the Year!

Her goal is to empower dental professionals to hone their strengths and become a positive light in the dental community.


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