20 May, 2020
By Jeff Gillis
Every company on the planet has one thing in common; they have to handle administrative tasks. Essentially, there’s no escape from paperwork, scheduling, and similar responsibilities. To some degree, every business deals with that stuff. But office managers are the ones master it, turning that ragtag group of duties into well-developed systems.
Organization, coordination, efficiency… these are the guiding tenets of office managers. Their goal is to develop effective administrative routines, guiding the offices through the use of protocols and procedures. While it may seem like rigidity is the name of the game, it isn’t. It’s actually about driving success.
In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin, “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” And that’s part of what office managers do; they prevent bad habits by providing frameworks for good ones.
But that only scratches the surface of what it means to be an office manager. Are you ready to find out more about this amazing profession?
Awesome! Let’s get going.
What Is an Office Manager?
So, what is an office manager? In the simplest terms, they are the ones who make sure the office runs smoothly every day.
Their primary purpose is to streamline administrative procedures, establish standards, and outline protocols. They are the source of consistency, getting every office staff member on the same page.
Without an office manager, chaos ensues. Think about it this way; if you asked ten random people how to put up a shelf without giving them instructions, you’d likely get ten different answers. Sure, they’d all focus on the same outcome, but they won’t tackle it the same way.
Some may be meticulous, measuring to find the ideal height, checking to see if they are hitting a stud or just drywall, figuring out if they are using the best screws for the task, and more. Others are going to eyeball it, using only what’s right in front of them and hoping for the best. In the end, they all finish the task (probably), but the quality of the results varies.
That lack of a controlled approach leaves room for mistakes. People might overlook critical requirements that exist between point A and point B unless they have guidance. Office managers provide that guidance.
What Are an Office Manager’s Duties & Responsibilities?
Okay, we’ve tapped on this a little bit already. But now it’s time to really take a close look at the office manager job description.
First, an office manager isn’t a receptionist or administrative assistant. Sure, there can be some overlap in the responsibilities, but office managers are also leaders. They usually oversee a team, while most receptionists or administrative assistants don’t.
Plus, office managers typically have some decision-making authority, especially when it comes to developing protocols. That’s something else that sets them apart.
It’s also important to understand that office manager duties vary from one company to the next. Every workplace has different needs, for one. For another, office managers commonly have to wear a ridiculous number of hats. If the task is administrative in nature, it might become part of their workload, should the need arise.
Even though every company differs from the others, office manager job descriptions usually have quite a bit in common. Here’s a look at what an office manager might need to handle:
- Oversee office operations
- Develop and update office procedures
- Work with other departments to develop policies
- Coordinate office facility and equipment maintenance
- Maintain office supply inventory
- Organize meetings and schedule appointments
- Manage vendor relationships
- Communicate with service providers
- Receive and distribute mail
- Manage incoming service provider invoices and issue payments
- Negotiate with vendors and service providers
- Greet and assist visitors
- Create and deliver presentations
- Establish filing systems and record-keeping standards
- Approve supply requisition requests
- Supervise administrative team members
- Delegate clerical tasks to office team members
- Recruit and screen administrative candidates
- Coach, guide, and discipline staff members
- Conduct performance reviews
- Plan company events
- Prepare operational reports
To say that most office managers are busy is an understatement. Offices can be surprisingly fast-paced environments, particularly for those who lead them.
What Skills Do Office Managers Need?
If you want to shine as an office manager, you need a robust and varied skill set. After all, your duties can be all over the map, so you need capabilities to ensure you can handle them.
Now, it’s true that every office manager job description is a bit different. Why does that matter? Because the skills you need to excel in the position might vary from one opportunity to the next.
But many office manager positions have a decent amount in common. That means, even if you can’t find a clear requirements list of a job, you’ve got something to fall back on. Here’s a look at the most commonly requested hard skills for office managers (Remember to go over your specific job description in detail though too!):
- Office operations and administrative practices
- Filing systems and data management
- Business management, human resources, and accounting principles
- Computers and office software packages
- Inventory management and purchasing
- Supervising, mentoring, and guiding office staff
Alright, now you’ve got an idea about the technical capabilities you need, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Soft skills are also vital to your success, particularly since you’ll be responsible for leading a team and coordinating with other departments. Here’s a list of soft skills that you’ll want to showcase on your resume and during the interview:
What Education, Training, Certification is Required?
Technically, you can become an office manager through experience alone. If you work in an administrative position for five to ten years (sometimes more) and have chances to enhance your leadership capabilities, you might be able to make the leap.
However, that isn’t the fastest route.
If you want to make it into the office manager position more quickly, then consider getting a Bachelor’s degree. Focus on business, human resources, management, and accounting. Feel free to dabble in relevant technology courses as well, as that can help you develop valuable skills.
You can also boost your resume with a certification. The Certified Business Office Manager (CBOM) can be a solid choice. You could also consider the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) option, as it showcases your administrative capabilities. However, those technically aren’t necessities either, so you aren’t required to go that route.
Office Manager Salary
Time to answer a question that is almost guaranteed to be on your mind; what does an office manager salary look like? Well, as with any other job on the planet, the answer is, it depends.
Numerous factors influence compensation. For example, the number of people the office manager supervises, the exact duties, the size of the company, and even the location of the business play a role.
For example, if you lead a team of ten, you’ll likely earn more than someone overseeing two employees. Similarly, if you work in New York City, you’ll probably have a higher salary than an office manager in Mobile, Alabama.
But, that doesn’t mean you there isn’t a ballpark figure. In the United States, an average office manager salary is $79,027 a year. That’s pretty nice, right?
Plus, many full-time office managers get more than money for their effort. In most cases, a comprehensive benefits package is also available, increasing the value of your total compensation.
What You Need to Know for Your Job Interview
Are you ready to snag an office manager position? Great! Let’s talk about how you can make that happen.
First, scour that office manager job description like your success depends on it, because it does. You’ll learn a ton about high-priority must-haves, giving you an idea of what you need to discuss during your interview.
After that, take a trip to the company’s website. Review the mission and values statements. That way, you can learn more about the organization’s culture and priorities.
Next, it’s wise to spend a little time reviewing the top interview questions for managers. Many of them apply to a variety of leadership roles, including office managers.
Putting It All Together
Office managers are really the backbone of any administrative operation. If you find the office manager job description intriguing and want to take your career in that direction, wonderful! It’s an excellent option, so use the tips above to your advantage, and you’ll be well on your way to making your dream a reality.
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Check out our other “job description articles” if you’re exploring career options: