By the time you become an office manager, you might expect to instantly be perfect at your new responsibilities. But the truth is that you’ll still have plenty to learn as you get used to the position—in fact, continued professional development for office managers is one of the most important unwritten duties of the job. Office management careers require adaptation and flexibility, and with these five tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your role and curate an environment of efficiency, positivity, and success.
Your Professional Development Plan
Learn the business
This one may seem obvious, but it’s important: The more you know about your company, the better. While it’s your main job to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently, you should also get to know exactly how each aspect of the business runs. That strong foundation will inform your own work and ensure that you keep your colleagues happy and productive. Learn what your company’s goals are and how they plan to achieve them, then check in with each individual department. Check if each team’s tasks and goals align with the company’s—it’s not guaranteed that they will, and fixing any issues here could make you the hero of the office. Doing this legwork will help you make better decisions for your company and for your own professional development. Your bosses are guaranteed to notice.
Improve practical skills
The rapid pace of the business world is a double-edged sword; brand-new innovations constantly improve operations and office life, but they also guarantee that your professional skills can become outdated in a matter of weeks or months. To ensure that you keep up with the changing landscape, dedicate at least a few hours a month to polishing established skills and picking up new ones. Start by brushing up on Microsoft Office, which offers three levels of product certification, from specialist to master. Another incredible resource is Khan Academy, a free, online collection of courses where you can try your hand at macroeconomics, calculus, and even coding. To go even deeper, consider investing in a membership to Lynda.com, where you can learn practically any skill, from time management to the Adobe Suite, through a series of videos. Even better, some workplaces provide this service for free.
Make time for networking
You should be leveraging the incredible power of networking to continue your professional development both inside the office and beyond. LinkedIn and college alumni networks are your best friend when you want to reach out to someone with a common connection or background for career advice over a cup of coffee. Beyond those tools, you should also take advantage of city-specific meet-ups and networking events to meet more people with similar careers who help foster each other’s professional development. Look into joining a wide-ranging office manager association, like the American Society of Administrative Professionals, or more industry-specific ones, like the Venture Capital Office Managers Association or the American Association of Dental Office Management. Building out your network will grant you access to a wealth of industry knowledge and will build your name within the larger community of office managers.
Practice better communication
Chances are, you’re an ace communicator. But don’t rest on your laurels—you can easily turn this natural ability into an even more powerful tool. Clearly articulate individual goals for your team members and establish open lines of communication so that feedback feels constructive, not forced. Instead of always sending an email or a message on Slack, walk over and deliver that information face-to-face to improve your everyday interactions with your team. Along with this, try to learn at least a little bit about each of your colleagues and commit those details to memory. They’ll feel valued and respected when you remember small details like their intramural soccer league or their love of jazz music. Elsewhere, volunteer to lead a presentation at your next office meeting to strengthen your public speaking expertise. If you need a little more help with this, consider enrolling in a public speaking class at a local community center or college. And above all else, make each of your interactions personable, organic, and focused to set a positive tone for the rest of the office.
Flex your creative muscles
As an office manager, you must possess analytical skills, but you need to make sure that your professional development is more than just left-brained. There’s no way to predict which challenges will come your way, so it’s best to be prepared for any kind of problem-solving you’ll need to use. Even if you’re not a typical “creative” type, you can still use creativity to your advantage in unexpected ways. When you come across an issue, focus on the solution rather than the problem, which frees you to work effectively while still maintaining a positive mindset. If you have a few spare minutes, try your hand at solving logic games like sudoku or crossword puzzles, which train your brain to look for unusual paths through obstacles. Keep a notebook at your desk dedicated to writing down thoughts, problems, and possible solutions, as you never know when one of those notes might become your next big idea.