What is an Office Manager?

What is an office manager

An office manager is an employee in an organization responsible for the smooth and efficient running of an office by performing financial, administrative and managerial tasks.

Depending on the type of organization, an office manager’s responsibilities and titles will vary. Other titles include Office Administrator, Administrative Service Manager, Head of Office, Chief of Staff, and others.

Various types of organizations from small businesses to large-size organizations can hire an office manager. They include financial institutions, manufacturers, universities, charities, hospitals, government agencies, and others.

History and Evolution of the Office Manager

About 20 years ago, employees who handled office administrative tasks were known as secretaries. Their roles included typing as fast as they could, scheduling appointments for the boss, making his coffee/tea, and running his other errands like dry cleaning.

Even the most seasoned secretaries at the time were restricted from taking on any managerial and leadership roles.

Over time, the administration landscape has shifted and the office role has changed remarkably. Administrative professionals are now able to take on management and financial roles.

Their responsibilities have grown from supervising simple tasks and being the office messenger. They are now one of the most essential employees in an organization.

Duties of An Office Manager

The office manager’s responsibilities vary from one organization to another depending on its structure and size. It’s not uncommon for these roles to be interwoven with other job roles like Facilities Manager, Human Resource Assistant, Marketing Assistant and Company Secretary. Typical roles of an office manager include:

  • Managing and supervising a team of administrative staff
  • Collaborating with staff, clients, and suppliers
  • Organizing company meetings
  • Managing and monitoring the office budgets
  • Designing induction programs for new staff
  • Attending meetings with executives and senior managers
  • Organizing company conferences and events
  • Booking transportation and accommodation for senior management
  • Preparing letters, reports, and presentations
  • Ordering office furniture and stationery
  • Managing company correspondence, queries, and complaints
  • Making sure that health and safety policies are updated
  • Implementing and monitoring office administrative systems
  • Updating personnel records
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Organizing interviews​

Qualifications for Becoming an Office Manager

Qualification requirements will vary from one employer to another. Smaller companies will require a high school diploma and some office experience. Bigger organizations may require a college degree in business administration.

This degree offers courses that cover most of the office manager’s roles like business ethics, business communication, accounting, computer applications, customer service, and more.

Are you thinking of being an office manager, but don’t have a degree? You’re probably thinking of switching to office management from a different role. Or maybe you’re brand new to the workplace without any previous work experience. Here are a few tips to get an office manager job:

Take a Training Course

If you’re switching from a different career, find a course that highlights the skills you want to strengthen.

Some courses specialize in areas like meeting planning, payroll best practice, budget management, business writing, customer service, and more. Some courses even include case studies to give context to complex concepts.

Attend Conferences and Networking Events

Attending administrative professionals’ conferences will give you the opportunity to network with seasoned office managers. They will provide a wealth of knowledge for your success in the industry.

You also get to create lifetime valuable connections whom you can consult. There are conferences for brand new office managers and experienced professionals making the switch.

Obtain An Office Manager Certification

Certifications like the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) will give you a high chance of landing an office manager job even without experience.

Whether you’re brand new to the workplace or shifting roles, passing the exam for this certification will let your prospective employers know that you’re knowledgeable about the field.

Skills Required of an Office Manager

Efficient and effective office managers maintain a positive attitude in the workplace and possess a genuine interest in the success of the company. They also use the following diverse set of skills to keep the organization working smoothly:

Organizational Skills

With so many responsibilities, an office manager needs to be organized to perform efficiently using these skills:

  • Time management
  • Records management
  • Inventory management
  • Scheduling
  • Prioritization
  • Planning
  • Attention to detail
  • Facilities management
  • Decision making
  • Report preparation

Management Skills

Office managers must have strong people management and leadership skills to oversee office operations and staff members. Management skills include:

  • ​Team building and supervision
  • Approchability
  • Empathy
  • Delegation
  • Motivation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem assessment and solving skills
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Leadership and coaching
  • Staffing

Technical and Financial Skills

These skills are essential for efficient office managers. The great thing about these skills that you can easily obtain them from various other roles without office manager experience.

If you’re simply switching roles, you won’t have to start from scratch with these technical and financial skills:

  • Budget preparation and management
  • Email management
  • Records management
  • Spreadsheets preparation
  • Report and document preparation
  • Database creation
  • Digital calendars
  • Expense reduction
  • File sharing
  • Accounting software
  • Invoicing
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel,
  • MS Office Suite and PowerPoint

Career Path and Progression For Office Managers

An office manager is generally an all-rounder and involved in several aspects of the company. However, you might be drawn to a specific area of interest.

You can advance to another role by learning more about that area through a mentor, a course, certification or taking on more roles in that line. Some of these departments include procurement, facilities management, human resource management, etc.

In some cases, executives may ask office managers to temporarily cover for an absent senior manager or to manage certain projects. Don’t take these opportunities for granted. They are the spring board to an even bigger role within the organization.

Final Thoughts

If you were confused and wondering, ‘What is an office manager?’, now you know. Some companies use different terms like Administrative Manager or Head of Office but they’re all referring to the same thing.

The role of office manager has come a long way from performing only secretarial tasks several years ago to taking on management responsibilities. They play a central role in any organization.

Leave a Comment: