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The complete guide to office management

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12 tips to become a great office manager

office desk with watch for office manager
Photo by Damian Zaleski

The Office Manager role is changing. There’s no doubt about it. The role was already beginning to shift before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. However, upon returning to the physical office or virtual office, the role of the office manager is evolving.  

Office Managers are no longer there to make sure people wash their dishes after lunch, to buy office supplies, or to fix the broken printer. They are now essential for employee happiness, safety, retention, and more. 

This article will explore the qualities, skills, and tools that a great office manager needs to excel in their role this year and beyond. 

How to become a Great Office Manager 

Often referred to as office administrators, office coordinators, or office operations managers, these professionals are often the first point of contact for anyone in or out of the company. Their responsibilities vary drastically, from building a great work environment to helping onboard a new hire to acting as executive assistants. 

That’s why an office manager’s workload piles up fast. Along with keeping the office space functional and dynamic, they also need to manage staff movements, travel, expectations, the list goes on. There’s a mountain of expectation on an office manager’s role, and many employees have their different ideas of what an office manager should actually do. 

Becoming an office manager is highly rewarding, not only by fulfilling people’s expectations of you but exceeding them. You can hold yourself accountable for, and become a key contributor to, the success of a business and its employees. 

Setting clear expectations to become a good office manager

1. Be the most organized person in the company

Organizational and time management skills are at the top of the list and for a good reason. It’s no longer just about creating a new filing system. An office manager needs to know everyone’s schedule, as well as their own. The role requires juggling co-workers, 3rd party suppliers, long-term business plans, as well as day-to-day operations. If organizational skills aren’t there, work will pile up fast.

2. Be a great communicator 

You need strong communication skills to thrive in an office management role. It helps to avoid mistakes, resolve conflicts, and give clear directions. An office manager is one of the few roles within a company that has communication with absolutely everyone, from new employees to the C-level executives. Make sure you’re an excellent communicator, and it will make the role a whole lot easier. 

3. Be innovative at problem-solving 

The company knowledge that an office manager accumulates over the years is unrivaled. They help a business through its most challenging times, and it all comes down to excellent problem-solving qualities. The longer you’re in the position, the more you’ll find you are being turned to from all seniority levels for your advice on challenging employee situations.

Problem-solving doesn’t stop there though. An office manager will often be tasked with the responsibility to make something happen with little or no budget. The role requires you to be innovative with the resources you have and make things happen regardless of the problems you may face. 

4. Be empathetic

Every office manager needs to be able to understand and empathize with all team members. As a core part of the team with a good overview of everyone’s working situations, an office manager is often the voice for a large majority of employees. You’ll need to be able to lead with empathy and charisma to make sure everyone is heard and understood. 

An office manager will often find themselves on wellness or positive initiative committees. They’ll need to be able to take the reins on empathetic projects, applying a business mind with a kind heart, and managing expectations alongside realities.   

Keep learning to become a better office manager 

5. Develop your negotiation skills

An office management position comes with a certain amount of negotiation involved. You’ll be responsible for a budget to keep the day-to-day office ticking over; as well as larger budgets for company events, conferences, and more in your daily routine. It’s up to the office manager to make the most of a budget and maximize what the business can get for the money it has.

Negotiation skills will also come in the form of peace-keeping. A diverse business comes with diverse personalities and it’s not uncommon for people to clash heads from time-to-time. These confrontations often fall on human resources and the office manager to resolve and find a peaceful solution that fits everyone. 

6. Always work on your business knowledge 

Whether it is budgeting skills, financial planning, recruitment strategies, or management theory, these skills will put you in a position to advance quickly. The modern office manager can have a lot of contact with senior management, having some financial or business know-how in your back pocket will help you get your ideas implemented and improve your general efficiency.

7. A little legal knowledge goes a long way

Office managers are often responsible for dealing with external suppliers or office contracts solely on their own. It’s handy to be able to deal with these contracts with some legal knowledge. You’ll be better equipped to understand the small print, when or how the contract can end, and how the business can maximize results with its spend. 

8. Understand emotional intelligence 

Having great interpersonal skills is critical in being able to manage and be managed within a team. Harnessing it massively helps your people skills and ensures that your team or teams have the best chance of success. It also helps to have a positive attitude that makes people feel comfortable to speak to you about anything. 

It’s been found that companies that harness emotional intelligence tend to have better customer loyalty and higher employee engagement rates, which leads to greater success for the business. By embarking on an emotional intelligence course, you’re better equipped to connect with employees and harness emotions for greater productivity. 

Tools to master to be a successful office manager 

9. Become an excel wizard

Office managers are responsible for data entry and storage, administrative and managerial support, accounting, budgeting, data analysis, research, reporting, and forecasting. The list is extensive and doesn’t end there. 

Excel will become an office manager’s best friend, but you need to be able to use it to its fullest potential. There’s no use having a basic knowledge of excel. Learn how to format and make the most of the tool and, in turn, make the role (and your workday) easier. Being an Excel wizard definitely needs to form part of your skillset. 

10. Learn bookkeeping software 

Office managers often have a budget to look after and can be tasked with supporting other departments in looking after their numbers too. The role can also be responsible for setting up company-wide processes to ensure departments are keeping track of their budgets in a way that is understood by everyone. 

The good news is that there’s plenty of bookkeeping software available. It will be down to the office manager to find and onboard the software that’s the best fit for the company.

11. Use project management software

The same can be said for project management software. Whether it’s team-building days, town halls, new software integrations, there will always be projects to manage in running a business. These projects often fall into the hands of the office manager. 

Master project management software that you can introduce with the role. Keep track of tasks, people, and ensure that any project assigned is completed as efficiently as possible.

12. Become a travel management guru

Phoning up a corporate travel agent is now a little old school, and expensive for the company. Also, using Skyscanner or Kayak doesn’t give employees the support they need in the journey. Train yourself up on travel management software and impress senior management with your budget control and time efficiency. Most travel software lets you digitize your travel policy to automate your company’s rules around spend and travel.