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The 10 Undeniable Characteristics of a Rockstar Office Manager

By July 7, 2021 July 28th, 2021 108 Comments

liza-featured-good-office-manager

It’s no secret – in competitive industries, people are everything.

Attracting and retaining the best people can literally make or break your business, and success hinges on winning the “war for talent”.

The best companies know that in order to win, you have to create a culture of engagement, and an environment where people want to spend their time.

That’s where a rockstar office manager becomes indispensable, someone who can cultivate the culture your company needs and steer the ship in the right direction as your company grows.

If only it were that simple…

The office manager is a unique, demanding position. It takes a diverse set of skills – and an amazing individual – to really thrive in the role.

Consider this:

The office manager is one of the few people (other than perhaps the CEO or senior HR staff) who interacts with employees at every level and within every department virtually every day.

At SnackNation, we are huge advocates of talented office managers. That’s because we have the privilege of working directly with thousands of incredible office managers at some of the most engaged companies from all over the country.

So what does it take to be one of these next level office managers? How do you find and hire someone who is perfect for this role?

We talked to both office managers and the people who hire them at some of the companies who are getting it right when it comes to culture and engagement. Here’s what they had to say about the top traits you need to be a rockstar office manager.

 

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Clients & Customers Employees

1. Technology Know-How

The office manager is responsible for many facets of your business, including defending the front line to protect the workforce. And, as an office manager working within the new hybrid workplace model, it’s more crucial than ever to keep track of all visitor and employee movements with ease. Enter the visitor & employee sign in system.

With employees working on site and remotely, visitors coming and going, and the added risk of infection entering the workplace, manual processes like the paper visitor book are time consuming and unsafe. Ain’t no rockstar office manager got time for that!

When an office manager can take center stage as a technology guru and implement a visitor management software like SwipedOn, they have the ability to automate – and therefore streamline – processes. They can keep track of everyone coming and going, perform health screening checks easily and have full oversight in a central admin dashboard with the option to carry out contact tracing at the touch of a button.

SnackNation put together our “Top Ten” list of office manager tools for OMs who want to expand their tech know-how in the new era of work: Office Management Tools To Make Your Life A Breeze

Here is a sneak peek:

 

2. Unparalleled Flexibility

We heard it again and again – flexibility was the single most important trait according to the people we surveyed. In order to be a good office manager, you have to roll with the punches and be able to handle anything that comes your way.

Shannon McLendon, Operations and Events Lead at The Motley Fool, explains:

shannon-motely-fool“An office manager at the Fool is a jack of all trades, wearing many different hats.

Things change quickly so I have to think on my feet and be proactive about getting things done.”

 

And it stands to reason – there is no such thing as a “typical day” for an office manager. One minute you might be planning an offsite event for 150 people, the next you’re coordinating the arrival of an important investor or aiding with the interior design of a new office space.

The ability to adapt and improvise is critical.

(PS – Get more sh*t done with The Assist — the #1 free weekly newsletter made for assistants by assistants.)\

 

3. Stellar Organization & Follow-Through

organized

This second tip might seem like a no-brainer, but being organized is one of the biggest factors when it comes to success in this role. Again, the OM’s role is so wide and varied that it can be easy to lose track of the tasks at hand. And because you’re often supporting C-level executives, most things are high priority and the margin for error is slim.

Lindsey Ingalls, Client Success Manager and Office Manager at Leadquizzes, breaks it down for us.

lindsey-leadquizzes“As an office manager you have what seems like a million different things going on at once and you have to make sure they all get handled. I couldn’t live without my Google calendar and put all of my tasks and the time I am going to do them in there.

No matter how small the task is, even something that takes 5 minutes, it goes in there and it gets done.”

It’s not just being organized though – it’s caring enough to make sure that the tasks you’re tracking get done on time and are done well.

 

4. Complete Accessibility

An office manager should be accessible – both in terms of availability, and in terms of the warmth of his or her personality. Your team should feel comfortable approaching the office manager for tasks that he or she owns.

Paul Marshall, Influitive’s Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Operations, explains why he named accessibility as the number one quality of an amazing office manager:

paul-marshall-influitive“Above all, a great Office Manager should be accessible to their colleagues to ensure that everyone is working at their maximum productivity,” he says. “A personalized experience makes individual employees feel special and valued.

An example of how we do this at Influitive is through ask@influitive.com, where employees can ask our team for anything that will make their working experience better.”

According to Paul, this trait is embodied by Rebecca Shaffer, who was originally hired as an Operations Coordinator but was promoted to Operations Manager/Office Manager in just a year’s time.

Here’s Shannon from The Motley Fool with another reason why accessibility is so important in this role:

shannon-motely-foolMy approachability has helped Fools feel comfortable coming to me with any concern and has helped foster good relationships with Fools across the company.

My biggest success as an office manager is due to the team that works with me every day.  The trust I have in them to go the extra mile and make decisions has proved invaluable.

My team handles everything from internal operations, planning events, security, maintenance, as well as the overall happiness of employees.  I couldn’t be the successful manager I am without them.

5. Solid Communication

communicate authentically

Communication is an often overlooked (but no less important) skill when it comes to thriving in the office manager role.

The job often requires taking ideas from the c-suite and translating them for the rest of the organization.

This is especially true when you’re in charge of implementing company-wide policies. You have to be careful to communicate the reasoning behind your office policies in order to ensure the highest possible buy-in from your team. You also have to be able to anticipate questions and be ready to answer them on the fly.

Liza Goldberg, our amazing Vibe Manager here at SnackNation, has made internal communication an indispensable part of her repertoire.

liza-headshot“Internal communication in this role is so important.

Every week I’m up in front of the entire company, announcing new activities or explaining policies, and I have to make sure I do it in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the team, gets all the details right, and also clearly explains the reasons behind it – whether it be a new parking policy or our next team building offsite.”

(Fun fact: Liza won the company’s coveted Value Victor award just over a month of being on the job – she rocks!)

 

6. Unreasonable Optimism

When people visit the office – whether it’s a potential new hire, possible investor, or future strategic partner – the office manager is usually the first person they see, and his or her demeanor helps form those oh-so-critical first impressions.

Most good office managers have a naturally positive attitude and warm demeanor. But the real challenge comes on those inevitable bad days. Everyone has them – days where we’d rather just stay in bed – and it can be tempting to let your mood darken your personality. But the office manager doesn’t have this luxury, since his or her demeanor has a direct impact on the company. Rockstar office managers know to put on a happy face even when it might not totally reflect their mood on the inside.

SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly agrees:

“Having a naturally effervescent attitude is a must. Even when you’re down, you have to put on a positive face.

You’re the center of morale – that’s why we call it a ‘vibe manager’ rather than an office manager.”

(PS – Get more sh*t done with The Assist — the #1 free weekly newsletter made for assistants by assistants.)

 

7. Magical Creativity

creativity

Increasingly, a company’s office manager is responsible of the office vibe. In fact, that’s why our office manager’s official title is “Vibe Manager.” The office vibe sets the tone for the rest of the business and helps create the culture that we need in order to be productive, creative, and hit our goals each month.

Maintaining a culture and a vibe takes considerable creativity. Office managers dabble in things like interior design and event planning.

Take planning an off site event for example – something most employees probably take it for granted. Just coming up with a fun, new activity that everyone will enjoy is a challenge.

You have to consider, what’s something we haven’t done before? What would our entire team enjoy doing? What can we do within budget? How will this activity help support the culture we need to be successful? It’s a major challenge, and it takes some serious outside-the-box thinking.

(Luckily, we have a few ideas you can borrow.)

8. Unwavering Self-Confidence

self-confidence

This role quite frequently requires daily interaction with CEOs and COOs, so you have to confident in order to earn their respect.

Part in parcel with this self confidence is the ability to push back from time to time. As much as you might want to, you can’t be everything to everyone, and you have to prioritize. Learning to say no is essential.

Lindsey from Leadquizzes explains:

lindsey-leadquizzes“I get daily requests from people in the office of things that are ‘necessary’ and that they want done right away, and it is important to put limits on it so that the entire office can benefit.

Just because one person wants the office temp set at 78 doesn’t mean the entire office would be happy with that. You have to keep a healthy balance to keep the whole office happy.”

 

9. Jedi-Like Anticipation

Being proactive and anticipating future needs is one of the best assets an office manager can have.

Much of the job is reactive, and that can be one of the biggest challenges – reacting to and prioritizing the myriad request that an office manager gets from all over the organization. One way to streamline your workflow and reduce reactive tasks is to anticipate and plan for them.

SnackNation’s Liza Goldberg expands on this idea:

liza-headshot“You have to constantly keep your eyes and ears open.

You’re one of the only people in the company that has a truly holistic point of view on a lot of issues, and it’s your responsibility to both anticipate needs, and to make sure that you’re connecting the dots for people and departments who don’t have the benefit of your perspective.”

10. Keen Emotional Intelligence & Steadfast Composure

As we’ve mentioned, you deal with people at every level as an office manager – from rank and file employees to the c-suite, and everything in between. This means tons of different personalities – some more challenging than others. As the office manager, you have to be able to deal with all of them.

SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly (someone who knows a thing or two about working with amazing office managers) elaborates:

“The number one thing that makes a rockstar office manager is a high degree of emotional intelligence. You deal with everyone in the company, and experience a lot of different emotions and attitudes.

Often times when people request things, they don’t necessarily do it with as much respect as they should. But you have to take it in stride, stay composed, and be resilient. Those qualities are invaluable to success in the role.”

And while reading and catering to the emotional needs of your team is crucial, on the flipside, you can’t have thin skin and be a great office manager. Having a level head and maintaining composure in the face of pressure is a necessary attribute.

It takes a lot to be a great office manager. Sometimes it might feel even harder to find one.

But the importance of culture isn’t going away anytime soon, and therefore office manager role is only going to increase in significance.

That’s why you need to find someone who embodies most (or all) of these traits. Finding the right fit might seem like an impossible task, but trust us, it’s well worth it.

Does your company have an awesome office manager? Give them a shout out in the comments below!

(PS – Get more sh*t done with The Assist — the #1 free weekly newsletter made for assistants by assistants.)

108 Comments

  • Michelle B. says:

    Great Article, nailing who I am at my company (and former companies) and helping me to confirm who I want to continue to be! Thank you.

  • Chantelle says:

    I love this! So so true.

  • Stacey says:

    Wow. I hope I live up to all these!

  • Jane Elliott says:

    Finding someone who has all the above qualities can be tough. Some people are great interacting with employees and management, but can’t handle event planning. Being optimistic is very important, because optimism, if based on something others can relate to, will help to further optimism in others.

  • Sara Caban says:

    organization and communication is a must

  • Jennifer says:

    A great office manager can much such a difference in an organization as well. Organization, proactiveness, communication and optimism are a must in this role!

  • Michelle Thomas says:

    As an office manager myself, I really enjoyed reading this article! My favorite part about my position is being able to create so many dynamic relationships, and also being able to see what each department’s duties entail. You definitely have to be able to multi-task and execute tasks effectively and efficiently all the while keeping a happy and can-do attitude. Great article!

  • Judi Fixler says:

    Great Article and very fitting.

  • Julie Goldstein says:

    really on point! it is a tough position!

  • cindy says:

    Great tips! Finding great talent is always hard but filling the office manager role is especially challenging given the responsibility the role bears. Think this article nailed key characteristics for being successful in this role!

  • Morgan Hill says:

    I’ve been the office manager at my company for two years now and all the above are completely true! Organization is key; that tends to help everything else!

  • Karen Lujan says:

    Great Article

  • Aimee says:

    Some really insightful points here that perfectly capture the job of office manager….. we are the ultimate utility player, the multi-tasker, and, in some ways, the office “parent.”

  • Josh says:

    Yes!! All of these!!!

  • Amy Pape says:

    Great Article! I am an Office Manager who strives to make the office a FUN place to be! Employee engagement needs to be a top priority. If employees enjoy where they work, respect & have fun with their coworkers, and feel VALUED by the company, they will be more creative, more productive & employee retention will increase. Budgets are always something that need to be looked at, but there are millions of ways of creating and awesome office environment without breaking the bank. Heck, there is plenty of things that, quite frankly, don’t cost the company anything, yet have a huge impact (FOODA lunch PopUp restaurant, Massage therapists in the office offering affordable 15/30 minute massages – who doesn’t deserve to treat themselves to 15 minutes of relaxation!), etc.. Thank you SnackNation for doing what you do & encouraging Office Managers to be AWESOME!

    • Jeff Murphy says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, Amy. Totally agree – it’s about making employees feel valued and making a space where people actually want to come to everyday. Glad that there are OMs out there like you who GET IT. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Denali Swisher says:

    I’m not the office manager but I like these attributes – I feel like it could be used in a job posting!

  • Valerie says:

    Shout out to all my fellow OM’s! My boss calls me Spork because I’m adaptable to all situations! 🙂

  • Jess says:

    There are many of these qualities that are also present in the Assistant’s roles. Often times they have to sort of play the “OM” role, even though they don’t have that title. There are great reminders here on how to create a great work environment no matter what your leadership role is.

    • Jeff Murphy says:

      That’s a really good point. These duties often overlap with those of an EA. In fact, enterprising EAs often think about the vibe their creating. Thanks for sharing, Jess!

  • Trisha says:

    Couldn’t agree more, we do more than anyone else in the company!

  • Kelley christian says:

    wow i could really learn a thing of two….

  • Justin says:

    Agree on the #1

  • Stephanny Morales says:

    This is a nice read , and all of these are true. Thanks!

  • melissa says:

    I underestimate myself – I am a freak’n ROCKSTAR

  • Kudos to all who accomplish these. What a difference it makes for a company when these qualities are present compared to when they are not. Nice article!

  • Jennifer says:

    Anyone else see the Pixar movie Inside Out and think they are Joy incarnate? I feel like she sums up everything I do here. Always happy and leading people along.

  • Brendan whalen says:

    It so difficult to find someone with all these qualities but I am lucky enough to know one of the best office managers. Great in all these characteristics!

  • Kevin Li says:

    So glad to have one of these awesome office managers. I feel their roles are often underestimated.

  • John Krause says:

    I think flexibility is the most important trait on the list!

  • Sharon Landers says:

    A great manager will make or break goup dynamics.

  • Kathy says:

    This was a great article, and so true! I am often times called the “mom” of the office because I am always taking care of everyone, whatever they may need to get their job done. I enjoy my role as an office manager and that I am ale to put a smile on peoples faces on a daily basis.

  • Mika Smith says:

    Other than the execs, I’m the senior employee at my company. I’ve seen us grow from 12 to 70+, and I STILL know everyone’s names! Not everyone in the company can say that, and I owe that a lot to the office manager role.

  • Heather says:

    This is so true! Makes me proud to be an Office Manager! 🙂

  • Christy says:

    YES! This list is perfect.

  • Alice H says:

    This is a really great list. Reading it made me realize how many skills I’ve picked up in this position. It also gave me a few clear goals on what to work on next. Thank you!

  • Melissa says:

    I’m not an office manager, but the article was informative and I’m glad I read it. Can pass these along.

  • Erin says:

    Agree wholeheartedly! I think a lot of people see these tasks as “easy” (stay organized, put a smile on your face), but it’s not always that easy to do those things day-in and day-out, you really have to work at it and be dedicated in your position! I like how this article both calls that out, and points out the obvious, that people with these skill sets and personalities make the best OM’s. Great read.

  • Chantal says:

    These are all things to strive for! 🙂 I’m honored to be included in this group.

  • Sherry M says:

    This equally made me feel awesome about my job and a little sad when I felt like I didn’t match a certain characteristic. This did give me some good goals for the future.

    • Jeff Murphy says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Sherry. The beauty of this role is that there’s so much headroom for growth! Identifying where you can improve is the first step – keep it up!

  • Wes Morton says:

    Great post!

  • Anita Maasen says:

    Agreed! Great article.

  • Anna says:

    Sometimes it’s difficult to juggle all of the responsibilities of an office manager, but I’ve found that just being in this role has forced me to improve in each of these areas!

    • Jeff Murphy says:

      That’s the beauty of the role, Anna! It really inspires people to rise to the challenges and grow in the process.

  • Aleeza says:

    Great article! So true!

  • Kaleb C says:

    IMO – “#2. Stellar Organization & Follow-Through” is the most important trait. Everyone has ideals, they’re cheap. Execution is the key.

  • Mark Howard says:

    I love how you described the office manager role to a T in a very relatable way.

  • Dawn Hieger says:

    Great article. It would be especially enlightening for people to realize everything that office managers handle, as it’s often overlooked. I really loved the tip about giving some limits. It’s easy to say yes to everything and get overwhelmed or not spread time out evenly otherwise.

  • Tammy says:

    Great Article!

  • Christina Swords says:

    I would love to think that I have all of these characteristics, but I can’t speak on my own behalf – I would love to hear what the others in the office think of me. I would have to say that I’m always available and ready to help with whatever, whenever. If only my desk could be as organized as I wanted it to be! I like to think that my overcrowded desk looks like the inside of my head because I always have so much going on!

    • Jeff Murphy says:

      Thanks for your input Christina! We’re trying to practice “radical candor” here at SnackNation, meaning we try to solicit honest feedback without judgment. That might be a way to start. After all, you can’t solve problems you aren’t aware of!

  • Heidi says:

    I am glad this position was highlighted. An Office Manger is responsible for so many things and a good one will do so with a smile on their face and will always care about getting everything done on time and accurately!

  • Michelle says:

    Being an Office Manager is great in the sense that you always get to be a part of each department and you also create great relationships among employees in the office.

  • Justin Davis says:

    I for sure decorate my desk way too much…

  • Misha says:

    A positive attitude can take you to far places

  • Durant says:

    Super helpful!

  • June says:

    I plan to use your article with our position description – thanks, great job!

  • NiNi Brown says:

    I’m all of that?!?! WOW! Just kidding! I’d like to think that I possess all of these characteristics. This is very helpful and will be using these for my next evaluation…maybe I’ll get a raise when they find out how awesome I am, hahaha!

  • Marsha says:

    Our company has a great Office Manager that has all of these qualities.

  • K B says:

    Great Post!

  • cheryl says:

    Rockstar is very apropos. The show must go on whether you are in the mood for it or not. So if you don’t feel like smiling just FAKE IT! And sometimes if you do it enough then things will turn around and the smile will be real again soon enough!!

  • Deon Fackler says:

    We certainly feel it when our Office Manager is on vacation. No one likes taking care of all of the things that just “magically” happen around the office.

  • Kim says:

    Still looking for our unicorn.

  • Lydia says:

    Great article. It puts into words so many unnoticed realities of the job which actually make the success of it. Thank you.

  • Dawsena says:

    Great post!

  • Kendall says:

    Such a great read and a nice realization that there are so many others out there that understand the ups and downs that come with the position!

  • Jackie says:

    This IS a great resource article. Thanks for taking the time and research to put it together and post it. I really resonate with the importance of creating and maintaining a welcoming and professional culture. And working with great people makes it so much more enjoyable and successful.

  • Katy says:

    A really nice article. All managers should be like this.

  • Karen Varga says:

    A fabulously helpful article. Got an interview for an Office Manager position for a fantastic charity next week. I’m hoping this article will bring out my most sparkly, colourful and magical inner unicorn!

    Some really brilliant ideas and pointers. Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Luis de Oro says:

    This IS a great resource article. Thanks for taking the time and research to put it together and post it. I really resonate with the importance of creating and maintaining a welcoming and professional culture. And working with great people makes it so much more enjoyable and successful.

  • Michael Chang says:

    Such a great read and a nice realization that there are so many others out there that understand the ups and downs that come with the position!

  • Jhon daverson says:

    I for sure decorate my desk way too much…

  • Thomas Seraphin says:

    I’m not an office manager, but the article was informative and I’m glad I read it. Can pass these along.

  • Jonatanh Miller says:

    Yes!! All of these!!!

  • Paige Boulger says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It just once again reaffirms that we are the hardest workers in the office! We do have think about every aspect of our office and how we could improve it for our employees and the guest who come in as well. It truly is a lot to think about in a day!

  • Joseph Miller says:

    I’m not an office manager, but the article was informative and I’m glad I read it. Can pass these along.

  • yajaira molina says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this article! I call myself a chameleon because as an office manager you need to works with multiple personalities and work styles, and you need to be able to connect with all of them.

  • Peggy Schempf says:

    Building trust and communication builds a great foundation! In this world of fast paced business it is great to have some flexibility to balance our lives too.

  • Bree says:

    I love this! Completely validating that I am not just a crazy person, but there are others who can multi-task to the max while still being polite and friendly!

  • Mia Andrews says:

    the wearing of all hats.. how more true can that be!

  • Alma says:

    I just landed a job as Office Manager. I have 12 yrs of clerical experience, that’s how I put myself through undergrad, and earned an MBA last year. This post helps me understand the characteristic that are required for this job role. I bookmarked, but to be honest I’ve had it open in one of my phones tabs so I can go thru it every so often as a reminder what strive for, and how to go attain it.

    • Richard Fendler says:

      So happy to hear that Alma! Please let us know if you have any additional tips and we can add them 🙂

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