Your Office Manager – Ground Zero

I was in a construction office last week the day after the office manager had come back to work after being out sick for 2 days. A number of employees at the office welcomed her back in the following way: “Thank God your back! Do you know how much we missed you? You cannot get sick again, do you understand? We need you!” Needless to say, the office manager had been missed.

There have been numerous articles written about how to improve marketing, sales, estimating, production and follow-up, but precious few have been written about the person that keeps many companies running, the mostly quiet, and little acknowledged office manager. This valuable resource is frequently the first person a potential client speaks to, the first person who regularly greets your trade contractors and suppliers, is the first line of defense when an irate customer calls, is the person who keeps an office neat and organized, and in many ways is the person who keeps the office going through the thick and thin of it all. They are the hub of the office wheel. Any remodeler, who has found and is working with a truly loyal office manager, will tell you in no uncertain terms, that this person is worth their weight in gold. What would you do if you lost your office manager?

Do you have a back-up plan if your office manager was to walk in the door tomorrow and tell you she’s leaving? If you do, congratulations, because almost every remodeler I know has no such back-up plan. They are severely dependent upon this person to keep the office running smoothly. If you have no such back-up plan, here are 3 recommendations:

  1. Make a point to tell your office manager how much you appreciate them. Show them how you feel by providing them with a gift certificate to a nice restaurant or store. Put some flowers on their desk before they come in some morning. Plan ahead, and surprise them by giving them an unexpected day off. In every office I’ve been to, the office manager is never the highest paid employee at the company, so little gifts like these are a welcome reward for a job well done.
  2. Set up a regular meeting, say 2 times a month, where you take 30 to 45 minutes to ask them how things are going at the company. Ask them for their perceptions about what they see, and invite their suggestions. A good office manager can be a bridge between unhappy employees and a demanding owner. As sexist as this may sound, because most office managers are women, they can be much more aware of what is really going on, and can provide a sensitive ear to disgruntled employees. This untapped resource can alert you to potential problems at a very early stage.
  3. Give your office manager true authority over office policies and procedures. Empower them to determine how something can best be done. In most cases, they know more about how to do it anyway. Good people want this kind of responsibility.

Good employees want more than money. They want independence, responsibility, and acknowledgement. They want to be a key part of a team that works well together. These are the intangibles that build a strong organization. Your office manager is a key part of your business. Empower them to be successful. Make them part of your team. Acknowledge what they do for you. It will be one of the best investments in your business you will make.