What Makes an Outstanding Office Manager?

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I recently read an amusing, yet touching, poem on LinkedIn penned by a CEO lamenting that their Office Manager had left for pastures new and how much they were missed.

As we continue our series here at LWR on what makes people stand out in numerous commercial roles, it’s time to shine the spotlight on the Office Manager (OM for short).

If you read any job specification for the ideal OM, you will soon understand why this is such a key role in any organisation.

Organisations depend on their Office Managers to steer the ship on a day to day basis ensuring an effective, productive and happy environment.

This can include:

  • Ensuring the effective operation of the office.
  • Supporting multiple departments.
  • Fostering productivity and satisfaction of all key

The ability to master the spinning of many plates springs to mind; doesn’t it?

This key role in any organisation requires patience, office-related skills, leadership ability, a talent for working under pressure and, importantly a good sense of humour!

Let’s explore the key elements and attributes that make a great office manager in today’s commercial environment.



Good Communication Skills 

I don’t want to sound like a stuck record; again. Yet all the successful candidates that pass through the doors at Lucy Walker Recruitment are good communicators.

In the frenetic world of today’s business economy, where brief email responses are the norm, tight deadlines a given and stressed out managers commonplace; clarity of communication and understanding what is being communicated become vital traits of a great OM.


Something useful

The well-known management trainer Stephen Covey wrote a book on the 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People. One of the key chapters has a focus on, ‘Begin with the end in mind’.

What’s helpful about this habit for Office Managers is it makes you think about, whatever the situation and medium of communication we intend to use, we need to think about what we want to achieve from each specific communication we deliver.

For example, sending an email think, “What do I want to achieve by sending the email?”

Do I want to simply communicate information? Or do I want an action to be taken with a reply to me?

If it’s a face to face meeting, do I want to convince someone to change the way they are implementing a process, or how they are working with a colleague?


When you stop, pause and say to yourself, Begin with The End in Mind, what’s my outcome for this communication, you will enter that communication with a clarity you haven’t previously had. This will impact your outcome and results.


Planning and Organisational Prowess 

Let’s be frank this role is potentially the plate spinning of ALL plate spinning roles. The classic office manager role is wide and varied depending on the size of the organisation in question. For instance, you might have to liaise with sales, marketing, production, quality control and HR; all in the same day and be expected to have a good grasp on their strategic priorities and deliverables for the next year.

On the surface, this might sound a challenge and yet with an organised approach, documentation and follow through its more than achievable to provide an outstanding service so that each department is singing your praises.



Flexibility: Always Have a Plan C and D in The Background 

In today’s business environment, an instruction might land from the Asia-Pac office overnight. The three priorities you were working on have suddenly changed. A great Office Manager will take it in their stride by tapping into their flexibility.

There is rarely a ‘typical’ day in the office anymore. The ability to adapt to change will be critical to your success.

Being proactive and anticipating future needs is one of the best assets an office manager can have. Contingency planning might be considered old school by some yet every business has the possibility of a situation happening that could adversely impact the organisation.

If the response to the situation is poor, it might have a dramatic impact on the future of the business, such as loss of customers, loss of data, or even the loss of the business as recent events demonstrated with our own NHS systems grinding to a halt.


A Willingness to Do What It Takes

Though an office manager isn’t expected to make the 11 am coffees or to ‘do’ an emergency photocopier repair as part of their role profile; sometimes life doesn’t always go to plan.

As a classic example, you might be the only person in the office who can run an urgent report off for the CEO who has an emergency call with the London office.

If your ego isn’t happy being flexible like this, you won’t be cut out long term for the role. Which leads onto another interesting point.


A Confident Self-Belief in Your Abilities



As I alluded to earlier the OM is often expected to have a good understanding of all the key business priorities.

It’s likely that at 8.30 you will be chatting to Fred the office cleaner about the paper towels in the ladies’ toilets and then at 10.30 in a conversation with Samantha the new HR director who is asking your opinion about office morale.

A confident belief in your own ability to handle whatever it takes and to stand your ground will be a key factor in your success.

Ready to look for a step up to a new Office Manager role?

Then do get in touch. Over the last 25 years, we have placed nearly 100,000 people in commercial roles across the North of England. To find out more call one of our friendly consultants on 0113 367 2880 or Manchester on 0161 661 4421.

2017-06-06T18:10:25+00:00 By |Categories: Candidates|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on What Makes an Outstanding Office Manager?

About the Author:

Lucy Walker is the Managing Director of Lucy Walker Recruitment , leading North of England commercial recruiter. Lucy has 28 years experience in the sector and leads her experienced team to help companies achieve their growth plans and candidates to further their careers.