An office manager is an individual, who is incharge of an office and whose function is to organize and control the activities of the office. He is appointed to head the office. “The office manager is the pivot around which the office function revolves” (Denyer, J.C.).
He extracts the work from the subordinates to achieve organizational goals. It is his responsibility to plan, organize and control the clerical aspects of the organization including the preparation, communication, coordination and storage of data to support production and other important operations of industrial establishments. He monitors the work processes and evaluates their outcome. On the whole he is appointed as an administrative head of office.
Some of the functional names associated with an office manager are Manager, Administrative Manager, Commercial Manager, etc.
Today, in the modern era of dynamic and competitive business environment, the office manager has to perform a wide variety of tasks from managing basic office services to handling of the most modern techniques of systems integration, automation, operations research and communication. In performing these tasks he assumes the position of a full-fledged functional executive at par with other operational executives.
The qualifications of a successful office manager are grouped under the following three heads (i) Education and Practical training, (ii) Experience and (iii) Personal qualities.
Education and Practical training: An office manager must have appropriate educational qualifications. He should possess not only bachelor’s degree in the relevant discipline, but also have proficiency in English and one or more foreign languages. The office manager must also have special training in business administration, accounting, office systems and procedures, office machines and data processing methods.
Experience: He should have sufficient business experience preferably be in a similar organization as the one employing him as office manager. This will enable the office manager to get familiar with the routine procedures of the organization and also the problems of the office that he has to manage.
Personal Qualities: The main task of the office manager is to get the office work done by personnel of the office efficiently and economically. To achieve this objective he must be able to organize, inspire and lead the staff under him. He must also try to understand the ability and aptitude of each individual worker and delegate work to them accordingly. For this he must possess a number of personal qualities such as leadership, sound judgment, sense of justice and fair play, impartiality, sincerity, understanding of human nature, tact, persuasiveness etc.
The scope of office manager’s work is very wide. It differs from business to business and organization to organization and from office to office. No two office manager performs same set of functions. However, philosophers and researchers have classified the functions of office manager as below.
1. Managerial Functions
2. Supervisory Functions
3. Personnel Functions
4. Duties to the Management.
1. Managerial Functions: The office manager is the administrative head of office. It is his duty to manage the entire affairs of an office. As an administrative incharge, he is expected to perform the following functions.
· Planning the work to be performed before hand.
· Forecasting the future demands based on past records.
· Organising the activities of office.
· Co-ordinating the activities of various departments.
· Executing the policies and programmes of the management.
· Communicating various policy decisions to the functional managers.
· Designing and implementing new systems and procedures.
· Reviewing system and procedures periodically and effecting changes in them.
2. Supervisory Functions: The prime duty of office manager is to extract the work from subordinates. In this regard, he performs the following supervisory functions:
· Dividing and allocating the work among the subordinates based on their specialisations.
· Ensuring that the work is carried out as per predetermined schedule.
· Exercising regular control over the quantity and quality of the work done by the subordinates.
· Ensuring the punctuality.
· Providing adequate stationery and supplies and controlling their usage.
· Arranging for appropriate equipment and maintaining them in proper working conditions.
· Maintain the office, well organised, clean and tidy.
3. Personnel Functions: At times office manager acts as a human relation officer for his own department. To ensure higher degree of accuracy and efficiency at work he should have efficient subordinates. For that purpose he discharges the following duties.
· Recruit or hire skilled workers for the departments.
· Arranging for training and
· Development programmes for
· the subordinates to upgrade their knowledge.
· Conducting staff appraisal interviews periodically.
· Measuring the work of subordinates through appropriate methods.
· Fixing up remuneration for the staffs and devising methods for suitable compensation.
· Dealing with matters as regards to indiscipline.
· Counselling and settling the disputes among the subordinates to the possible extent.
4. Duties to the Management: Office manager is a functional head of the department. He acts as staff expert to top management and offers advices on various policy matters relating to office routine. He also performs the functions like
· Provision of information that is needed to make policy decisions.
· Supporting and implementing the policies of the top management.
· Reporting the problems to the management which are beyond his limits.
· Identifying problems in the implementation of the policies and reporting to the top management for remedial action.
· Handling mails and fixing up appointments on behalf of top managers.
In the recent years the authority and responsibilities of office manager have grown substantially. They are more involved in policy decisions. The office manager should be capable to face challenges of modern complexities of business world. Dynamic office manager possess the following qualities.
Organising Ability: A modern office manager must be a good organiser. He should organize the office services in such a way that it can be performed smoothly, efficiently and economically. He has to act in the following manner:
1. Dynamic Leadership: He should be an energetic leader. He should inspire and build confidence in the minds of the subordinates. He must also encourage the subordinates to perform their job effectively and efficiently to achieve the common goals of an organisation.
2. Innovative: He should be innovative. He should have creative thinking and capability to develop better methods and systems. Moreover, he should always in search of new and innovative methods and techniques of doing the office work in order to increase the efficiency and quality of the work.
3. Ability to Delegate: Office manager should be competent to divide and allocate the job among the subordinates according to their capabilities. Effective delegation of authority ensures accountability among subordinates and indirectly boosts their moral to a higher level.
4. Development of Personnel: He should be a demographic leader. He must encourage the subordinates to carry on their routine work without his interventions and also allow them to participate in the decisions relating to their work. He must conduct staff appraisal periodically to identify their progress and accordingly arrange for training and development programmes for their self-up gradation.
5. Forward Looking: The office manager should be forward looking. He should be competent to forecast the future, visualize the future problems and devise plan to avoid such problems. E.g. heavy competition, fall of demand, price hikes etc.,