The Top 10 Skills of Effective Operations Managers
By Joanna Wyganowska
here is no doubt that the effective operations manger contributes directly to the organization's success. If you are a recreational facility manager, golf course superintendent, school administrator, shift manager at a resort or hotel—you name it—you are basically asked only one thing: to ensure that customer service standards are met. But in order to do that there are certain skills that an effective operations manager must possess. Here are 10 traits of successful operations supervisors. How many of them do you share?
1. UNDERSTANDS CUSTOMER NEEDS
A successful operations manager needs to have a deep acknowledgment of customer needs. That requires an understanding of what is a true measure of satisfaction to a customer. Maybe it is an immediate response to customer inquiries, a safe environment or fair price assurance. By knowing what makes your customers happy, you will be able to connect with them and provide guidance to your subordinates on how to take care of customers' needs.
2. COMMUNICATES EFFECTIVELY
An effective operations manager knows how to communicate on many different levels with all types of people. The ability to get your message across to your staff, your superiors and, most importantly, your customers is an essential skill that will be put to the test each day. Using a wide array of communication vehicles, including verbal, written and body language techniques, will allow you to establish a rapport with each audience.
3. UNDERSTANDS THE ORGANIZATION'S FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
Operations managers are directly responsible for contributing to their organizations' financial performance. A successful operations manager knows how to prepare sales projections and expense budgets, and analyze profit & loss statements and balance sheets. To simplify the process of creating financial projections, an efficient operations manager should utilize business planning software, which allows one to build a comprehensive set of financial projections, reports and charts in less time.
4. MOTIVATES THE TEAM
Organizations don't get much done unless their people are motivated. A successful operations manager knows the importance of building a strong team and developing positive relationships among team members. This can be achieved by understanding and addressing the individual needs and concerns of your staff.
5. TRACKS AND MEASURES STAFF PERFORMANCE
It's essential to set work objectives for each of your team members and be able to measure their progress. As an operations manager, you need to establish specific measurements that tell your staff how they are doing against the goal. This will provide you with the clear base for employee recognition, but also for staff development. In addition, measuring and tracking individual personnel performance will provide feedback that helps focus on issues and success factors that will improve the overall organization's performance. An effective operations manager should look into utilizing human resource software, which streamlines the process of setting performance goals, evaluating employees and maintaining up-to-date training and certification information.
6. CREATES A POSITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Successful operations mangers understand the need to surround themselves with highly skilled and capable employees. You can accomplish this by providing specific, timely and respectful coaching and feedback to your crew to ensure operational excellence and to improve individual performance. As a role model to your staff you also need to be responsible for your own self-development.
7. MAXIMIZES STAFF UTILIZATION
An operations manager is responsible for proper management of the organization's most critical asset—its people. As an operations manager, you need to ensure proper staffing for any given time. By establishing staffing threshold levels, you will be able to immediately assess staffing shortfalls and adjust. This will include directing your crew to other tasks to reduce bottlenecks or finding replacements in case of no-shows. Utilizing scheduling software will allow you to reduce time needed to perform the tedious task of staff scheduling. With the help of scheduling software, operations managers can schedule their personnel based on skills, seniority or desired workload, as well as track time off and view staff availability and number of hours scheduled. This will help ensure proper coverage and reduce overtime.
The difference between successful, happy operations managers and successful but unhappy operations managers can be found in the ability to get things done through others. As an operations manager, you need to learn how to hand over specific tasks to your team members. This should not be perceived by anyone on your team, including you, as putting additional burden on others, but a way to give you—the team leader—the time to concentrate on strategic projects that your entire team will ultimately benefit from.
9. ENFORCES STANDARDS
As an operations supervisor, you need to ensure your staff adheres to all policies and practices established by your organization and government regulations. If your company does not provide clearly written policies to your employees, you are putting yourself and your staff at risk of legal ramifications and implications. Utilizing human resource software will allow your organization to quickly create employee handbooks, utilize office policy examples and various HR forms and checklists, as well as a library of IRS forms and U.S. Department of Labor posters. This should help protect not only your customers, but also you and your staff.
10. INFUSES PRIDE IN ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES AND MISSION
Effective operations managers act with integrity, honesty and knowledge that promote the culture and mission of the company. You cannot expect your staff to adhere to company values or even operational polices if you do not demonstrate a full understanding of company strategy.
What do you think now? How many of the top 10 traits of an effective operations manager do you possess? If you think you've got them all, good for you! And while all of the skills listed above are indeed strong identifiers of an effective operations manager, there's a lot more to being a good operations manager than this. For one, the acknowledgment that there is always room to improve.
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