Office managers are the unsung heroes of any company. They are the behind-the-scenes person who keeps the entire office running like clockwork. Whether you are a new office manager searching for ways to take control of your job or a seasoned office manager seeking to stay relevant in your current role, then investing in professional development is essential.
In today’s do-more-with-less workplace, it’s tougher to stay calm, focused, and energized. Office managers are being pulled in a million different directions and still expected to function at their highest level of productivity.
Whether you are looking to expand your office management capabilities or in the market for updating and refreshing skills then professional development provides the opportunity to learn essential tools, strategies, and techniques you can implement as soon as you return to the office. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Training and development are not a nicety. It is a vital part of a company’s long-term investment and growth strategy. LinkedIn Workplace Learning report identified that investing in your staff’s professional development is essential for team retention to the point that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
New technologies have a profound impact on education and development. When employees learn new skills or knowledge, performance improves. When companies invest in a development program, they plan for future performance. Gallup reports that companies that have dedicated employees see 41% lower absenteeism and 17% higher productivity.
Office Manager Training and Development Is Critical
Here are a few reasons why employee professional development is critical:
- Training programs can be used as a competitive advantage when hiring people. People feel a sense of value within a company that fosters loyalty and staff retention.
- Having established leadership development ensures a company is future-focused by preparing talent.
- People feel empowered within the workplace as they feel a greater sense of autonomy, value, and confidence within their work.
- Regular development initiatives prevent workplace idleness, establish re-evaluation of skills and process, and influence culture by instilling an emphasis on planning.
- Ongoing investment and skill development of the workforce can encourage creativity, new ideas, and products.
- Company reputation and profile are enhanced as a workplace becomes more attractive to potential new graduates and for people seeking mid-career changes.
Here’s how professional development can add value to your role as an office manager and curate an environment of efficiency, positivity, and success.
Creating Your Professional Development Plan
There is only one person who can design a professional development plan – you. By committing yourself, you can start brainstorming what you want from your career and identify future opportunities. Here’s how to start:
- Establish the purpose of any development activity by gaining a measure of what you are good at and interested in.
- Align your plan to company goals and objectives.
- Identify your developmental needs – ask people for direct feedback, complete self-assessment tests, and diagnostic tools to help you assess your skills in a structured way.
- Develop a list of the skills you must improve. Then compare this list with your current skills and identify the gaps.
- Consider your learning style and the type of education, training, or activities such as shadowing, secondment, mentoring, or coaching.
- Formulate an action plan. With each of the gaps, you identify, set yourself objectives to carry you to new ground. Set realistic timelines.
- Undertake the development, record the outcomes, and set a time to reflect, evaluate, and review quarterly by asking the following questions:
– As a result of implementing this plan, what am I able to do better?
– What have I learned about me that I didn’t know before undergoing this process?
– Have further developmental needs come to the surface?
– What gaps do l need to close to take me to the next level?
– How will l know l have achieved the next level?
Professional Development Ideas
1. Have Short Team Goals
Taking the first steps with your plan means identifying your short-term goals. Focus on how you want to elevate your current role or step into another position, and what professionals’ skills you need to acquire in the next six months. By breaking down the goal, you articulate how you will achieve and attach timelines to each target. For instance, I will identify a podcast specifically for office managers and pitch to be a guest by November 2019; I will enhance skills specific to people management by attending an online workshop by December 2019 or I will attend an industry-specific conference by January 2020.
2. Expand Your Internal Network
Building on your professional relationships affords you opportunities where you can interact with colleagues beyond your company, learn what is new in your industry, and explore potential future joint ventures. One way to begin is to reach out to people who can mentor you. Dedicate one lunchtime a week to meet with internal colleagues and once a month to meet with colleagues beyond your company. By networking and attending events, you invest in your career, make new contacts with people in related fields and positions, and become the representative for your company.
LinkedIn and college alumni networks are great to reach out to and build a connection or seek career advice over a cup of coffee. Another option is city-specific meetup groups and networking events to meet more people and foster professional development.
3. Seek To Learn More About Your Company
The more you understand and respect how the business runs, the better foundation informs your work. Learning company goals and how teams are planning to achieve them provides you with a greater awareness of the broader picture. Even more than that, it places you in an excellent position that if any challenges arise, you are in a prime position to contribute and lead the resolution. If that isn’t leadership, l don’t know what is.
4. Be Proactive
One step you can take is to volunteer to take on greater responsibility by asking your boss to think of one thing you can do to make their job easier. By being proactive, you demonstrate leadership commitment. Nothing builds leadership skills as much as taking the first step to lead.
5. Develop Leadership Skills
Gaining insight into how people’s thinking impacts the way people work and communicate, places you in a primary position to get a better understanding of each person’s unique abilities and contributions to the team. Making a conscious decision to learn one new thing about each person you interact with daily helps you build relationships.
6. Develop Other Leaders
For companies, investing in professional development is an opportunity to identify those who are ready for the next level and elevate them into a leadership role. Developing leaders from within, especially young managers of today will be tomorrow’s business leaders.
7. Build Up Your Business Acumen
Being business savvy improves your ability to make sound judgments and quick decisions daily. The more you understand how the business flows and the intricacies of the company, the better positioned you are to lead people and impact the bottom line.
The greatest leaders never stop learning, growing and expanding their knowledge, capabilities, and skills. They make professional development part of their monthly strategic career plan. Keep learning, polishing your management skills to help you be more successful in your career.
8. Keep Up With Changes In Your Industry
Professional skills can become outdated quickly, given the rapid pace of business. By committing at least a few hours a month perfecting established skills and levelling up with new ones, places you in a prominent position.
There are various forms of learning – on-the-job learning, mentoring, in-house training, individual study, and blended learning – a combination of online and classroom teaching. On-site learning can leave a more significant imprint in companies, be more cost-effective, and allows for greater consistency. Certifications are another option that demonstrates a long-term commitment due to maintenance requirements that require to remain up to date.
Companies invested in growing their people and business, contribute to some or all the costs if they can identify the mutual benefits for both the individual and company.
Here are some resources you can utilize to level up your knowledge and skills:
- Udemy hosts over 100,000 online courses from leading conversations, communication mastery, leadership, career development, personal development, business, IT and software, and many more. A great resource to deepen knowledge and broaden skill sets.
- LinkedIn Learning is another platform with a wealth of growth opportunities ranging from building presentations, learning effective planning, essential negotiation skills, through to people and career management courses, and many more.
- Dale Carnegie Training – Getting Results With Authority to provide an opportunity for office managers to learn how to transcend business titles to foster trust, respect, and cooperation across various individuals in a company.
- SkillPath On-Demand Training provides specific training on how to understand, regulate, and leverage emotions in any supercharged office situation where feelings need to be carefully managed to avoid lasting consequences.
9. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Most office managers excel in their analytical skills, but you need to ensure that your professional development stretches you beyond the comfort of your role. As problem-solvers, investing in activities that solve logic games like sudoku or crossword puzzles trains your brain to look for unusual paths and breakthrough obstacles.
Professional Development Is Essential For Growth
Professional development isn’t just a nice perk – it’s an essential part of maintaining growth as a business. Fast-paced advancements in technology mean learning and development tools are changing, offering more options and solutions.
When you invest time and energy into your people, this makes for better workplace culture, creating ripples on your company’s reputation, results, and profits. When you set up your Office Managers for success, you set up your company for success.