The 6 Essential Office Manager Skills That Set You Up For Success
August 18, 2021
When it comes to managing an office, your skillset needs to vary as much as a box of chocolates. The duties and responsibilities of running an office require agility, flexibility and technical know-how. From communication to knowledge of software and tools, being great at managing an office is almost a super-human ability. The important things to understand is that not everyone will have every office manager skill in the book, but there are core areas you can focus and improve on to help you nail down the basics.
Let's take a look at the 6 essential skills that will make you a great office manager.
1. Administrative Skills
Not to state the obvious, but managing an office requires a strong grasp on the basics of office administration. It's one of the key components of the role and often includes the following duties:
Maintaining systems, paperwork and records
Mail and file processing
Employee schedule management
Budget and spend management
To perform these tasks effectively, you may also need the skills of delegation, multi-tasking, information processing, time management and organization. Administrative skills can be improved relatively easily, often with continuous practice and repetition. That being said, there are plenty of administrative courses available online if you'd like to go that route.
If administration isn't your strongest point, don't panic. Make sure to set a specific and attainable goal for your progression and consider bringing a mentor on board to help you with this process and check in on your success. It can also be really helpful to identify other strong administrators or managers and lean on them when possible.
2. Communication Skills
Because the role of an office manager requires communication with other employees, senior management, suppliers and office visitors, having strong communication skills is key to your success. This particular set of office manager skills can include conflict management, resolution and delegation as well as both verbal and written forms of communication.
In addition to online courses available to strengthen this particular skillset, you can also try some of the following self-development strategies:
Learn about nonverbal communication. About 55% of communication is nonverbal. Wherever possible, communicate face-to-face and learn about nonverbal cues such as eye contact and body language. A great example of a communication technique you can try is mirroring which is most popular in sales, but is applicable in other situations.
If in doubt, over-communicate. If you're unsure whether someone understands exactly what you mean, it's okay to ask them to summarize the action steps they will take after your conversation and do the same in return.
Ask for feedback on your communication. What better way to learn and grow than to get candid feedback from your co-workers.
Summarize your points often. Begin and end each communication with a summary of the key points. It can also be useful to summarize verbal communication in writing.
Adjust your communication style to your audience. If you want to maximize the effectiveness of communication, try adjusting your style to match your audience. It's as simple as knowing when to use a casual tone and when it's time to be more formal in your conversations.
Listen when others speak. Did you know that listening is the most basic form of meditation? When you stop thinking about what you're going to say next and genuinely listen to what the other person is saying, you'll be surprised how much better your communication skills will become.
Check all written communication: Before hitting send, reread, reread, and then reread again.
Try to stay positive: Easier said than done, we know, but meeting negativity with positivity helps you stay in control of the situation and will be better received in the long-run.
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3. Organizational Skills
Being extremely organized is arguably one of the most important office manager skills to have and is often underestimated in the working world. Being organized requires a wide range of skills including creative thinking, attention to detail, planning, delegation, prioritization and workflow analysis. As an office manager, you have it double as hard because you're not only organizing yourself - you're also keeping an entire office organized, which in all honesty, is a superpower.
If things get too hectic, try to fall back on some of these strategies to help you stay on top of everything:
Be proactive, not reactive. Occasionally firefighting may be unavoidable, but plan as much as possible so that you can steer clear of chaos. This includes using a schedule and relying on that handy to-do list.
Start early. Always give yourself more time than needed; looming deadlines are often key culprits in increased stress at work.
Develop systems. From filing to completing payroll, try to develop efficient systems that flow with your style of working. This should help you save time on repetitive task.
Delegate. Hand over the reins when possible, it's important to take the load off your shoulders and trust others to do their best.
Minimize interruptions. Multitasking can make you less productive, so it's important you try and tackle one thing at a time. It's hard to do, especially when you have a constant flow of people who need something from you, but learning when to say no (or being really good at hiding 😆) can help keep you focused. And let's not forget the problematic cell phone, which is one of the biggest distractions we have. If you're someone who struggles to keep your phone at bay, try downloading productivity apps like Flora or Forest to help keep you focused and off your phone.
4. Problem-Solving Skills
As an office manager, you're often the point of contact of anyone or anything goes wrong and when this happens you have to pull out your superhero cape and dig deep into your problem solving abilities.. Which means practicing creative solutions, leadership, decision-making and of course, patience.
Next time you're faced with a problem and aren't sure what to do, try some of the following tips:
Focus on the solution. While it's important to understand what caused the problem in the first place, the most effective problem-solvers focus on what needs to be done and don't get fixated on what went wrong.
Stay calm and neutral. This is an obvious one, but getting worked up over an issue only prevents your brain from functioning at an effective level and clouds your rational judgement.
Brainstorm. Pull on your team's strengths and ask for a fresh perspective on the problem you're facing - you'll be surprised at the creativity of your colleagues.
List multiple solutions. There's more than one way to skin a cat so try to come up with a few alternatives for the issue you're facing (but don't actually skin our furry friends).
Be flexible. It's easy to fall victim to the Sunk Cost Fallacy when you've committed to a specific solution, but being agile and knowing when to change course is what makes a great problem-solver.
Being successful in anything you take on start at the very core - your confidence and belief in your abilities. We all have something special to offer and we're all capable of doing amazing things. Unfortunately, when we doubt ourselves, everything we take on seems a little harder and a little gloomier. It's also important to keep in mind that self-doubt happens to all of us and it's okay to feel uncertain sometimes.
When you have a lot on your plate, it's easy to lose sight of your strengths, but there are a few strategies you can try:
Avoid negative self-talk: How you speak to yourself is powerful. Be kind and big yourself up, don’t beat yourself up. Think about the way you speak to yourself internally -would you speak to a friend or loved one this way? Be kind to yourself and don't beat yourself up if you've made a mistake.
Accept praise and celebrate successes. You deserve it.
Identify your strengths: Write down a list of all your favorite qualities about yourself. You'll be surprised at how long the list will get!
Boost others: When you see someone without a smile, give them yours. By uplifting others, you spread positive energy.
Create a fun environment: A fun and collaborative workplace boosts everyone’s confidence, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Consider ways to make the workplace more fun for everyone. Maybe it’s time to organize an office retreat?
6. Technical Office Management Skills
As an office manager you most likely take care of employee scheduling, corporate travel, payroll and other tasks that are typically managed through modern software and online solutions. From basic knowledge of Excel/Google Docs to various automation tools, being comfortable with using and learning these technical resources is key to increasing efficiency.
Some of the most common office management tools include:
If technical skills is not you forte, there are plenty of tutorials online to help walk you through the features. So try not to shy away from expanding your roster of tools.
Generally speaking, skills can be learned over time. If you find yourself falling short in one of the office manager skills listed above, all you need is patience and practice to get better. With the right attitude and support from your team, mastering all six skills will seem like a breeze for the office hero that you are.