After our introduction in the last article, we decided to dig deeper into this rapidly changing job. We investigated by speaking with more than 50 Office Managers to give you a both fascinating and relevant white paper. Below, a glimpse.
Simplifying the role of Office Manager by digitizing it !
What is an Office Manager ?
The Office Manager must be one of the most versatile people in your company. Just like a real Swiss army knife, he has to be able to fulfill many different roles in a strategic manner. Between bookkeeping, office operations, accounting, and maintaining customer relations, the Office Manager must develop a wide-array of transversal skills to be efficient in his job.
Multi-tasking and a good time management are vital to manage the duties of an office. However, we recently witnessed the emergence of digital solutions that allow the Office Mangers to simplify their daily tasks.
Whether it’s payroll management, the processing of expense claims, or even an intelligent virtual assistant that automates customer reminders, the Office Manager must be equipped with the right tools.
This digitalization is more important than ever in order to simplify your daily tasks and become more productive by putting more time into value-added tasks.
10 essential tools for an Office Manager
At the 21th century, knowing how to equip oneself became a competence in its own right.
Imagine a carpenter without his tools or even a doctor without the best technologies available. Its sounds completely absurd !
It is the same for the Office Managers. Indeed, they have to seek solutions which will allow them to do more than they could with just their hands. We are all humans and we all have our limits. The technology, and particularly the automation of daily tasks enables the Office Manager to be more productive. He now can offer strategic help in more complex tasks.
The Office Manager will therefore have a more strategic role, supervising its tools and operations, instead of executing them.
Find the list of 10 tools, and more about the job of Office Manager, in our white paper : “Office manager : how does digitalization transform your job?”
Office Manager is a key role. It can be considered a vital part of any company, which enables to connect the whole organization. They are responsible for the proper functioning of the office. They have to ensure the well-being of their employees and help to build a high and durable corporate culture.
At the line of Human Resources, Administration and Bookkeeping, the Office Manager has a lot of challenging missions. They have to collaborate efficiently with their colleagues and manage the relations with different service providers of the company (customers and suppliers).
It is not uncommon to see him juggling between customer invoices, order forms and employees expense accounts. The Superhero of modern times, the Office Manager is characterized by his adaptability and his foolproof resistance.
But in every story including a Superhero, there must be a villain who threatens the survival of human race. The Office Manager also has to face his worst enemy, against which he fights everyday : time. The multi-tasking and daily urgencies to which they have to answer kills fairly quickly their productivity. They are constrained to operate as and when and has less and less time to forecast and anticipate the needs of their colleagues.
As every Superhero, the Office Manager is not unbreakable. They have to have the right tools to complete their mission.
In front of the challenges they meet and the growing complexity of their activity, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents are not enough. He has to own performant and innovative solutions.
The Office Manager constitutes the nerve center of the company. He has to be able to obtain information he needs fairly quickly. He also has to be easily reachable by his colleagues.
For internal communication, Slack is the best tool. It will be the end of the email assemblies.
Slack is a collaborative communication platform which enables you to communicate, send documents, archive and create online team work to collaborate efficiently.
Slack also enables a more elaborate use with a lot of possible integration through various tools such as Dropbox, Trello, Twitter or even Google.
The icing on the cake, Slack also offers a lot of integration possibilities for those who want to maximize the customization.
Trello is a tool of collaborative tasks which supports you daily in the analysis of your work, your time and the management of your organisation.
The tool works with a card system for each task to complete. With the possibility to write comments, download attached document, create check-list, and add deadlines to be respected, etc.
The interest of Trello is that you can invite as many people as you want to work with you, freely. With a simple drag and drop, you attribute the different tasks to concerned people and they are immediately notified.
JulieDesk will become your best friend. It is a service of a virtual assistant which enables you to manage all of your meetings and works, entirely by emails. The objective is to facilitate the management of your agenda from information included in emails.
“When you copy her in on an email, she will take the lead on the conversation. Indeed, she will find a slot which fits well for you and your interlocutor. Once the slot to speak with your interlocutor is found, she confirms the meeting in your dairy and sends the corresponding invitations. She can also note an event in your calendar or even cancel or shift a meeting instead of you if you ask her.”
The best tool to gain time and avoid the incessant back and forth with your different subjects.
The follow-up of your invoices and customer reminders are demanding tasks which ask for precision and organization and… time ! The tasks are repetitive, time-wasting and bring less value-added. And when the number of your generated invoices can be counted by the hundreds, it is very easy to be overwhelmed.
Dunforce has a mission to support the Office Manager in this activity. It automates the dunning process in a very intelligent way. A personalized roadmap for the follow-up of different kinds of invoices, multichannel reminders and overview to see the state of the money you are owed in no time at all. The objective is to simplify, to make it more efficient and enable you to have more time in this crucial activity.
At the end of the story, it is always the Superhero who wins. But at one condition : the one to have the right tools.
To learn more about our solution, click here!
This week we were interested for the first time in the job of office manager and that’s why we interviewed Jennifer Genestier, Founder & CEO of Gom&GO, an Office Managers recruitment agency.
Presentation of the activity
I have a lot of experience as an office manager. I was freelance and I have created an agency which serves as an interface between freelance missions of office managers and companies. So I have experience analyzing the companies’ market through these missions. Currently, I do not do a lot of office management anymore but I have done it a lot in the past, and I also worked with HR in helping the office management. That’s why my current vision is less precise and much broader.
Presentation of the job of office manager
1- Step backwards
The job of office manager largely consists in keeping an active watch because the market moves a lot and there is always something new to discover. What enables the office managers to achieve fulfillment and to evolve depends on the setup of the new tools enabling them to get rid of repetitive missions, and to become Happiness Managers, by working on the corporate culture, the wellness, the organization and the management.
Some years ago, the job of office manager did not exist in France. I arrived in this job 7-8 years ago and there were very few people who were working as an office manager. However, in France, we have a big background in the tertiary sector, executive assistant, management assistant, secretariat, etc.
When the job appeared, new roles were added. It created various profiles, enabling them to merge skills and roles into one position. This answered the needs of the growing companies.
2- Office Manager vs Executive Assistant
The job of office manager is still very new. Indeed, when we talk about it, people assume that it is just another title for Executive Assistant. But the jobs are not the same at all. The office manager is like a pilot. He is not here to execute what we ask him to do. He is here to be source of proposals, to bring improvement for the well-being, to watch over the market, the network and the ecosystem of the company. It is here where the office manager acts. It constitutes a real link between each cell of the company, internal or external. This is not merely administrative, accounting, or commercial work.
3- An atypical profile
This job was created with certain skills and expertise because most professionals were trained in this field. There are people who are more apt to HR, others who are more financial, whereas others will be more commercial. Each person will develop their identity in this way. We realize that it is thanks to these things that the office managers are able to learn on the spot and grow to help their company.
It is also important to see everything one is able to do with only the skills of an office manager. They can be CEO because they know how to manage and administer a company. The office manager must be multi-skilled. That’s why the tools they use will help save time for the executive side of management. With more time, they will be able to focus on the big picture of the job which is to pilot, to connect between tools and humans, to ensure that it corresponds to the corporate culture and management. It is from here that they become Happiness Managers.
4- A job which tends to evolve
Over the last few years, we have seen a transition from managers being focused on a single aspect, to now where they must be able to perform in several different functions. However, with the emergence of new tools to assist them, it has made the transition much smoother. Slack was a revolution for office managers; all of a sudden they were able to communicate, share things, bring an added value and well-being to their job. They gradually became Happiness Managers. Today, we use QuickBooks, Slack, Trello etc. As soon as start developing a need, a new tool seems to emerge to simplify the job in order to work more efficiently.
Dunforce, an opportunity for the office managers
Dunforce can be an interesting tool particularly for a freelancer who has a recovery activity before litigation. Now, there are many freelancers who do this. This would save them a lot of time, thus improving the well-being and productivity. Freelancers and Office Managers were very scarce in Paris at the time. But after the emergence of tools such as Dunforce, it makes their job easier so they can focus on other important aspects of the company. As we continue to transition into the world of tech, we may see and emergence of tools to automate some of the duties of an office manager.
The job of office manager is still scarcely known today, or used under a different name. However, it is one of the most important positions in the modern day of business. The office manager is the driving force in the organization and the link between the different cells of the company. True autodidacts, they are not here to execute what they are asked. If the job of office manager tends to develop or to extend, the implementation of new tools will further promote its evolution and the well-being of its users becoming real happiness managers by focusing more on corporate culture.
The young talents, a central issue
Let me show you that innovation gets rid of the bad bosses ! As you already know, we are facing a fierce battle for the young talents. Where do the new generations want to work ? In general, they want to work in the major banks, in the cosmetics major groups… But the digital start-ups are accelerating the destruction of the major firms, as specified in the first part of the article, by the roots, recruiting the best talents.
Currently, the major Europeans companies do their utmost to try to reinvent themselves. They started to get rid of the tie wearing, remove the leaders’ privileges. They also deleted several positions. You certainly know this ranking which pompously publishes the presentations of the companies and chooses “the 10 most coveted companies where everybody wants to work in”. It could look like this ranking, don’t you think?
The entrepreneurship, more than a passing fad
A London interim agency stated that 50% of the under-30 year olds want to leave the company where they are working. This agency offers jobs which bring a feeling of gratitude for those who apply. It also helps the young talents start their own business. We often talk about entrepreneurship, which seems to be a trend, a solution to the crisis. But the willingness to undertake a project is a significant aspect that the digitalization accelerates too.
A study from Telefonica about the Y generation states that 1 young person out of 10 in Spain, in Europe, or in the USA, could turn to entrepreneurship in the 10 next years. However, in several countries such as Colombia, only 1 young person out of 4 will undertake in these 10 next years. This shows the changes in vision that there may have been in the most developed economies.
Give a meaning to your job
This transformation in the ambition of our young talents shows us that they want to give meaning to their job. The new technologies give us new possibilities to start a project. Indeed, they facilitate the access to the labour market which is drastically evolving. For your information, 53 millions of Americans are auto-entrepreneurs (freelancers), 34% of the American workforce is self-employed. According to the previsions, by 2020, it will be true for half of the American workers. The world is moving and the digital start-ups, the entrepreneurship, the freelancers are making things happen. The companies that want to survive have to eliminate the authoritarian management. They need to reduce the intermediates and adopt the principles of self-management and/or collaboration.
What is self-management ?
Let me give you an example that I really like: a Brazilian textile company, which a family’s friend inherited from his father in 1995.
After really tough acquisition phase of the company, he decided that it needed to stop. He had to transform the corporate culture. He started by removing the privileges from the senior managers: cars, parking spots, personal secretaries, exorbitant salaries. Then, he decided to grant a decision process to the workers and to the employee representative committee by creating committees. Besides, the employees could decorate their workspaces as they wished, choose the color of the walls etc. He then initiated the schedule flexibility, and finished by implementing the principle of “test and learn”. This allowed him not to loose the focus on the customer.
Twenty years later, the company is now one of the most fruitful industrial companies of the Brazilian market, while managing to survive different financial crises.
The end of the hierarchical organizations
This is a company where the level of self-management is very high and where the employees decide themselves the amount of their incomes. The redundancies are decided collectively. There is no hierarchy, only autonomous and independent groups, where a person is a coordinator, without it being a definitive position. Every year, there is a democratic vote to elect the coordinator. If the person appears to be not so great at his work, then the workers will have to vote for a new one.
This company is not the only one using the self-management. The autonomy at work is today accepted in a lot of surveys as a strong asset for the companies.
The researchers of the Cornell University did a study on 320 SMEs, where half of the companies were giving a lot of autonomy to their employees while the other half were more bossy. Those which left the most of autonomy to their employees developed 4 times faster and have ⅔ of turnover less than the others. But the self-management alone is not enough. We also talk about principles and digital values. It is a sweet utopia and today it can’t always be set up because of the lack of collaborators’ engagement.
The bad bosses won’t resist the transformation
Indeed, during the transformation of a company, the role of the different bosses (CEO, executive officers, intermediate management) will take a significant importance. Unfortunately here, the bad bosses will get lost, showing a lack of empathy, of emotional intelligence, or adaptability. The fear of change is a fact and in general, the companies don’t think enough about this point before boarding into major projects of recast.
The CEO must gather these different directors and managers, explain the strategic goal and the way this new culture will be implemented. The objective is clear: all the collaborators move in the same direction to face the new market challenges. This “education” phase is unfortunately not taken enough into consideration by the management. This can jeopardize the firm. We come back to a mantra that is dear to my heart… The bad bosses dictats, the good bosses educate and help.
And if you didn’t read the first part, click here !
Work is evolving
In May 2017, a company I was supporting was once again about to bankrupt. It had been founded 12 years ago and they ended up not being able to pay their employees anymore. Everything was collapsing. A project in which they had all invested ended up spinning out of control, and all of that, because of a bad customer. Nevertheless, they were reaching a turning point. I remember that this evening, tears in their eyes, the two partners promised each other they would never humble before a customer’s feet ever again. And to succeed, they would have to change, to restart, they would have to redefine their principles and stick to them. Why? because it’s the only solution to stand tall. Without entirely realizing it, this day, we were about to reinvent the corporate culture of their company. We clearly defined the principles, to make sure they were as fair as possible. The final result was that human was their most important resource. It had to be their focus again.
Innovation : the death of bad bosses ?
To be straightforward, the new culture defines the main mission which is “Human-first” and a vision : a world where a company is able to focus on the human, even before its own ambitions. But the idea is not a “flower power” motto, far from that !
Evolutions in terms of computer sciences between the years 2000 and 2010 taught us that digitalization gives people superpowers, huge possibilities to learn and develop. On the other side, companies, to grow or even just survive in this century, will have to learn how to maintain different relationships with their customers and especially to train their teams around a key objective : satisfaction of their customer while defending their offer. The role of a boss will, more than ever, be a key role and will have to change. Stop with sharks, stop with autocrats! The collective intelligence goes way further than the solitary mind.
Change or disappear!
The rhythm of digitalization imposed by innovative companies is frenetic. Companies which do not adapt will die. But to innovate, companies need to adapt their human resources. The idea is to build complementary and motivated teams. Besides, the problem that companies face today is linked to their structure which is not ready for this innovation. Why ? Let us consider an ordinary person in the company we will call Paul.
Paul doesn’t have a sufficient motivation in a hierarchical structure which was built on efficiency only. If we take a closer look at the current structure we see that intermediate managers dictate to their employees what they have to do. These decisions which were taken by other people, higher in the hierarchy, with whom they may not agree. It is almost impossible to maintain the motivation in this context. Unfortunately, this is the plague of 2018. A sadly well-known survey from the Towers Watson office states that only 1/8 person feels motivated by their job. In addition to being serious and critical, it is deeply sad.
But let us come back to the original problem : if to survive in this digital world it is primordial to innovate and that to innovate you need a motivated team, then how can we create a new way of managing that will help us to innovate and develop motivation ?
Read more here!