How to effectively manage managers within a dental practice



How to effectively manage managers within a dental practice 1

Kelly Games gives tips on how to manage managers and how to drive a successful team.

When it comes to Employment Law legislation, HR professionals and dental practice owners have had a lot to get to grips with this year. This is all thanks to the unpredicted global pandemic. However, there is one HR challenge that continuously causes a problem within practices up and down the UK. It’s one that is increasingly becoming the biggest issue to tackle.

Regardless of your position, managing managers can push you out of your comfort zone. You’ll learn quickly from such scenarios – there will be successes, failures and possibly tantrums too. I’ve put together some helpful tips – as well as some curve balls that may swing your way. The purpose being to ease your transition to becoming a well-prepared manager of managers.

Talk and teach

Learning to master your emotions is the biggest hurdle you’ll need to overcome. It’s very easy for the red mist to descend if something isn’t panning out how you imagined it to. Consequently, this blurs your vision, causing the situation to become worse. Practising empathy towards your team members, gaining clarity of your own thoughts and delivering useful and constructive feedback is vital for navigating through any hiccups.

Your management team shouldn’t be left unsupported. Teach your managers how to prioritise. Build trust with the overall team and conduct informative and open meetings. Encourage them to admit when they don’t know it all – nobody does! The best kept secret to managing managers is setting them up for success. If you provide them with the network, resources and one-to-one time, your practice will reap the rewards.

The good, the bad and the ugly

All team members need feedback to ensure their work, performance and conduct is effective to deliver results. This isn’t a prompt to push your frustrations out on your manager(s) about what they aren’t doing right or how they could have dealt with a particular situation better. You need to provide good feedback too and make sure you’re transparent on progress.

Some managers may approach you seeking advice on how to deal with an issue within the team, or possibly a project that you’ve asked them to sweep off of your desk. If this is the case it is good practice to ask them how they think they would tackle the problem and how you can assist them (if necessary) and whether there are other options that you can explore together.

If your managers need constructive feedback, you need to ask yourself a few questions; how would you want your line manager to react if this was a role reversal, and how should you behave to remain professional? These are simple questions that can change your outlook. They can enable you to move forward on a much better action plan.


You need to put listening at the top of your list and acknowledge that it is a skill that a leader must have. Learn how to listen in order to adapt your mindset to focus on what people say. Avoid the need to talk or interject. Many leaders struggle to do this due to their strong characters and quick decision making, but it’s important to be able to stand down too.

Showing an interest and gathering the facts to fully appreciate the whole picture will help you build better rapport with your manager(s). Making eye contact when someone is talking to you and writing notes will convey that you are fully devoting your time and your undivided attention. Have you ever been talking to someone and they’re constantly looking around the room but nodding, yet you know they are more distracted by what’s going on elsewhere? It’s likely to have made you feel not to bother them again. Don’t make your manager(s) feel that way when they approach you with their problems or concerns.

Stay connected

When you have managers directly reporting into you, it’s hard to stay connected with the people that report to them. You don’t want to become out of touch with the projects and the teams that keep the business running. Most importantly, you don’t want to give off the impression that you’re too self-absorbed for their time or conversation. Without these people devoting their energies, your practice wouldn’t be where it is.

Schedule some time in with your teams to enhance your relationships. Whether it’s work related or just to catch up on each other’s personal lives. This is key to maintaining rapport. Being as open and as transparent as you possibly can be will gain you the credibility of being a leader. This will model the behaviour you expect from others. If you frequently give them some of your time, they will devote more of theirs.

To summarise

Your legacy as a manager of managers is about how you drive a very successful team without causing trepidation. Here at CODE, we have a team of HR advisors that can guide you through making the right decisions when it comes to managing your manager(s). 

For more information: Code’s Total HR service visit or call the team on 01409 254 416

Kelly Games: Kelly is part of CODE’s Total HR team providing daily expert HR advice and support to CODE’s member base of more than 3,000 practices. Kelly holds the CIPD Level 5 qualification in Human Resource Management. She has developed her HR knowledge and skills by working in various sectors.

This article first appeared in Private Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue here.

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