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Are you managing or mentoring your staff?

Good managers manage. If this seems like an obvious statement, consider the many areas of the practice you manage: patient scheduling, billing and collections, purchasing and leasing, office technology, compliance, and others.

You also manage a staff. If this, too, seems obvious, ask yourself a question: Have you ever taken the time to think about what “managing a staff” means?

Ideally, it involves ensuring that tasks are completed by various individuals with little or no intervention required on your part. Still, from time to time, you will provide instruction, as well as guidance and support, in order to get the job done. If—make that when—problems arise, you likewise address them.

But your responsibility to your staff doesn’t end here. A good manager provides staff members with growth opportunities.

These opportunities should include formal training and education, as well as other programs, like mentoring.

By design

Mention “mentor program,” and people tend to think of large, corporate programs that are highly structured and require a great deal of oversight.

It’s true that many of today’s largest corporations have formal mentor programs. However, it’s also true that these programs can be scaled for small employers—and small employers, including medical practices, can reap many of the same benefits from mentoring as large organizations.

Among these benefits are:

  • Supporting individual career growth
  • Boosting employee morale
  • Building a better team

These benefits all lead to increased productivity, and all can be factors in employee retention.

In addition, there are other benefits that are frequently overlooked. Management Mentor, a mentoring consulting firm, points out that mentoring helps:

  • Attract talent
  • Support succession planning initiatives

Mentoring has a powerful attraction for prospective employees, the firm notes. Prospective employees, especially millennials, want career growth opportunities and frequently cite mentoring as a benefit they seek.


Staff development—and mentoring in particular—plays a critical role in succession planning. It helps ensure that when a staff member leaves, her knowledge doesn’t leave with her. It also helps groom employees for larger roles and greater responsibility. This paves for the way for new opportunities for everyone, including the manager.

By definition

Mentoring, by definition, usually assumes that older, more experienced workers teach and encourage younger workers. But mentoring doesn’t have to follow this narrow definition.

A young, tech-savvy staff member can be paired with a baby boomer to share how a new computer program works. Although this is sometimes called “reverse mentoring,” it is actually mentoring at its best.

And, in case you haven’t figured it out, mentoring isn’t all about you as a manager sharing your knowledge and expertise. While you may mentor a staffer or two, you should focus on overseeing a mentoring program or, at the very least, an environment that encourages and supports mentoring.

Overcoming obstacles

As a medical office manager who most likely already has too much to do, mentoring may seem like a good idea, but it may also seem time prohibitive.

Yet, it’s not an all or nothing proposition. Chances are you already have the beginnings of a mentoring program in place, even if informal. If you are cross-training staff members for vacation coverage, for example, you have already started a process that can be taken to the next step.

And taking that step isn’t as difficult, or as time consuming, as you might think. Simple software and e-learning courses, such as those offered by Management Mentors and others, can provide a framework and guidance.

Given the many benefits, don’t you owe it to the practice and your staff to explore mentoring?

Note: Medical Office Manager does not endorse any websites or products mentioned in this article. They are provided for informational purposes only.

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