Why is it that some office managers can inspire a team to success while remaining well-liked and respected while others struggle to reach their targets and find that their daily dealings with staff are filled with conflict? All office managers need to be skilled at organisation, time management and attention to detail, but several key areas need to be addressed in order to be the perfect office manager.
Even the most experienced, qualified and skilled office manager will find things falling apart if there is a breakdown in communication. Everyone in the team needs to know exactly what their role is and what is expected of them. Organisational charts should be kept up to date and should clearly show all reporting relationships so that everyone is aware of the chain of command and how information should be shared. All staff should be given the opportunity to raise concerns and flag up problems without the fear of criticism and regular feedback should be encouraged through one-on-one meetings and staff reviews.
No-one likes to feel that they are just a cog in a machine and a good office manager will get to know each member of his team. Understanding their different personalities and backgrounds will help a manager bring out the best in them by recognising their strengths and weaknesses.
Working towards solid goals is one of the best ways to motivate staff, and an excellent office manager will set staff clear expectations and timescales so that they have something to strive towards rather than working in a vague, unfocused way. This will also prevent duplication of work and lead to better productivity. It is a good idea to involve staff in setting their own targets using meetings and discussions, as well as allowing reassessment of objectives if, for any reason, they need to be reset or changed. Goals should be specific; for example, rather than saying ‘we need to increase sales,’ say ‘we need to increase sales by 5% before the end of the tax year.’ This gives a precise timescale and removes any ambiguity.
The best offices never stop learning and a good manager will encourage professional development from everyone in the team. This should happen right from the start, with well-planned induction and orientation training that will make sure new staff ‘hit the ground running.’ Training should continue right through their company employment with regular courses to update their skills and keep them up-to-date with new technology and changing business systems. It is a good idea to perform a training needs analysis for each member of the office team. This will highlight any weak areas or gaps in their skills and knowledge that will benefit from further training.
Treat Everyone Fairly
The office manager’s role is similar to that of a parent, with the need to nurture, supervise and encourage their team. Like any family, showing favouritism will lead to sibling rivalry and all the resentment, conflict and unhappiness that it brings. A perfect office manager treats everyone fairly and does not show partiality. This does not mean that exceptional performance and achievements should not be praised and recognised, but unearned favouritism will ruin team morale.
Set a Good Example
If you are going to ask a lot from your team, you need to set a good example. Criticising the spelling and grammar in a report when your own work is full of mistakes or demanding perfect punctuality if you turn up ten minutes late every morning will lead to resentment. Make the effort to do your very best and those around you will, hopefully, follow your lead.