By Gina Blitstein
An office manager could be described as the liaison among the various “arms” of your business, cultivating and maintaining relationships with upper management, employees, suppliers and customers alike. He or she is responsible for keeping the machine that is your business running efficiently and effectively from the trenches. That’s why it’s crucial to hire the right person to fill this dynamic position.
While the job description of office manager may look on paper like somewhat of a “Jack of all trades,” the position calls for a person possessing a very specific skill set and a particular temperament. Finding such a person to manage your business’ office operations – and supporting that person’s efforts – can be a boon to your overall productivity – as well as to other aspects of your company, like employee satisfaction, customer loyalty and workplace harmony.
Choosing an effective office manager
So, who is this elusive being who makes an ideal candidate for your office manager? Such a person will personify these characteristics:
- Impressive representative of your business - From professional appearance to comfortable and capable demeanor, the office manager should represent your business favorably at every opportunity. In many cases, he or she serves as the “face” of the business, and as such must make and leave a positive impression upon everyone with whom contact is made.
- Good people skills – Because an office manager must interface with people on a variety of levels, he or she must be facile with dealing with those higher on the company ladder as well as co-workers, vendors and customers. Qualities such as patience and diplomacy will go a long way in paving the road to smooth business operations.
- Effectively prioritizes projects and tasks – An effective office manager can make a “game plan” and see that it is systematically carried out. He or she sees the bigger picture and, rather than tackling random duties, takes the helm and makes certain that goals are set and met for the business.
- Honesty and integrity - Especially because an office manager deals with a wide cross-section of people related to your business, they are no doubt privy to and have access to sensitive company information. Your office manager must have an appreciation for the level of access they have and the discretion to use it only in appropriate ways. They should likewise demonstrate their professional integrity by operating and communicating in an honest manner with everyone.
- Strong communication skills – An office manager’s duties include communicating with anyone connected to the company. It’s important that he or she can write professional correspondence, compile training materials and disseminate information with aplomb. It is likewise crucial that he or she can provide a voice for employees and management so that everyone companywide is operating on the same page. There may well be occasions when the office manager is the one attending to customer experience or service-related issues; the ability to communicate clearly and concisely in all these areas is paramount.
- Take-charge attitude - An ideal office manager “owns” the position. He or she is assertive in asking for what they need and proactive when it comes to planning and organizing. He or she readily delegates duties in order to most effectively utilize resources and manpower.
Supporting an effective office manager
Once you hire that ideal office manager, it’s up to you to support his or her efforts. After all, any employee can only be as effective as you set him or her up to be. Put in place the support your office manager requires to reach peak performance by providing the following:
- Necessary resources - Whether it’s a sufficient budget, discretion to make purchases, manpower, space, equipment, supplies, training, decision-making ability…make certain your office manager has everything they need to run a tight, efficient and productive ship. No one can do their best work when their hands are tied.
- Empowerment - Create a democratic atmosphere by asking for (and heeding) your office manager’s opinions, ideas and suggestions. This demonstrates that you’re dedicated to a workplace that values teamwork and will help your office manager feel that he or she matters to the organization as a whole. When an office manager (who has a unique perspective on the workings of the company) has a say, he or she will become even more invested in the smooth operation of the business.
- Trust – The position of office manager should bring with it a degree of trust. Demonstrate that you trust both your choice of employee as well as the person him- or herself by supporting their professional decisions. Back them up in case of dispute and give them additional responsibility when warranted. An honest employee who isn’t extended a due amount of trust will feel disrespected and undervalued, so when appropriate, by all means, extend it.
An office manager is so much more than an “extra hand around the office.” An effective office manager can be a very important part of a smooth-running business by bridging the gap between the different elements that comprise your company. When you find a person who’s got the “right stuff” and provide him or her with the tools and encouragement they need, you have a valuable business asset and partner in success.
Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance business efforts.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates.