Office manager can be a catch-all title that has you answering phones, handing out assignments, checking on projects and coping personality conflicts. Some days, you might think you are herding cats through a blazing building. But office manager can also be a key position, one that can continually improve your business’ bottom line. It can make you the most valuable player in your business if you hone your skills and apply yourself to being an energetic life-long learner.
There are five key skills that are vital to being the office manager that you want and need to be. Let’s look at each of them below.
No matter who you are or where you are, communication is vital. It can include public speaking skills, face-to-face conversations, coaching peers, dealing with customers, talking on the telephone, even creating press releases, sending text messages, and posting on social media. Saying or typing the right thing at the right time can make all the difference in the world to how smoothly business operations run – especially those that originate or end up in your office.
Listening and People Management
You could say that these are extensions of communication skills. Active listening is not easy. It involves paying attention to the words that are being said, the emotion behind them, the body language of the speaker and maybe even to your knowledge of this person. You need to be aware that when you are hearing someone on the phone or reading a text, you are not getting the full measure of the message so you should consider your response accordingly. Listening actively is part of managing people, but it isn’t the whole story. Putting together teams that work, handling disputes, understanding how family issues impact work – all this and more are part of managing people. Use technology that’s available to you to facilitate communication, such as Folderit’s project sign-off utility and messenger.
Thinking Outside the Box – and Inside It
You don’t have to be the innovative person that comes up with new ideas all the time, but you can look for new ideas that can be used in your office. Be aware of developments in psychology, sociology, and technology. Keep up with trends in your business and look for ways that trends in other businesses can be applied to your office. Know what your target population is doing, and how you might expand into targeting other population segments.
Understanding your Own Business
It’s never easy keeping track of business operations, especially in a large and expanding organization. Cloud communication that allows all members of a team to check-in from anywhere can make a big difference. Another brain saver is IT software that allows you to compartmentalize operations, yet facilitate communication between cooperating teams. Folder driven software helps keep things together, and lets you trace what’s going on as items move from one department to another. You should never be afraid to get your hands dirty at any level of your operations – whether it is dust from moving boxes in the warehouse, or printer ink from adding toner to the hall copier. When you make yourself an active part of each department, people see you as someone they can trust and go to for solutions.
The Internet has made learning so easy, and at the same time so daunting. If you have a computer and an Internet connection, you can sip from an ocean of information and misinformation. Fortunately, there are scholarly resources online that can help you make sense of it all. Scholarly Journals, Google Scholar, Project Gutenberg, and Coursera are just four of the many reliable online resources available to someone who is dedicated to learning. You can also find websites that are dedicated to specialties, such as cooking, computers, software, writing, reading, music – well, you name it, chances are there are websites for you, including information on how to evaluate the information that’s out there. Don’t let it overwhelm you – pick one or two things to learn about, and dedicate yourself to exploring them.
Office manager is a title that is sort of like jack or jill of all trades. You need to be a little of everything. It’s a tough job, but we know that you are up for it.