Career growth and development are often reported as more valuable for workplace happiness than perks and even salary. Yet, in the world of office management, there are very few career development resources, and mentors are difficult to find. The fast-paced and multi-faceted nature of office management is balanced with a level of isolation, where office managers are forced to find their own resources to move forward in their careers.
As a tool for office operations teams to manage their space and streamline their work, we at Managed by Q talk to office managers every day. We hear more and more about their interest in meeting each other, finding mentors and learning about how to do their jobs more efficiently.
With that in mind, we decided to team up with our friends at Envoy to create the Effortless Office event series. We knew career growth was an in-demand topic, so it was a natural fit for our inaugural event in San Francisco last month.
Three experienced members from the office operations teams at Asana, Everlane and Stitch Fix joined us to share their experiences in their roles. Each of the panelists discussed their personal career growth and provided actionable advice for attendees. We shared a few of our favorite tips we took away from the event below.
Planning for the next step in your office management career
Jessie, from Stitch Fix, had a unique perspective on what has helped her identify what’s next for her. “If I close my eyes and think about what I want Stitch Fix to be like in two years or five years, I can see how the internal ops team plays a role in that, and everything we’ll need beyond just my job and my team,” she said.
With this build-it-yourself mentality, you can identify areas where you’ll need to hire, skills you’ll want to learn, and ways to work with your manager to strategize on how to get there.
Work for a great company
Jessie also mentioned that she has an incredible team at Stitch Fix that has helped her develop her personal career growth strategy. Working with your managers and mentors will enable you to build the best plan of action. If you’re alone in your role and don’t have a direct manager within office operations, it’s valuable to meet with others you look up to within your company who can help support you and advise on your career growth.
Marilyn, from Everlane, also shared advice about working for the right company.
“A company is bigger than the role you play. Being at a company that will invest in you is a company you can invest everything in,” she said.
When you’re in a position to choose where you’re working, it’s important to choose an office that aligns with your values and offers an environment in which you you can thrive. For Marilyn, Everlane has proven to be the right fit for her work style, as they’ve allowed her to explore projects outside of her role, leading her to discover a new passion within the workplace and pick up a new skill set.
Making an impact at your company
Cristina, from Asana, shared a project she worked on to change the mundane holiday gifting they’d been doing for years. This past year, she worked with a company that enabled her to create a branded charity site and give everyone in the company a gift card to share with a charity of their choice.
“That project was so dear to my heart, and I got so many private messages from employees letting me know they had been passionate about these causes for years, and just never really had the push to research and see how they could make an impact. This project pushed them to do that,” she said.
Based on the success of that project, Asana saw ripples throughout the entire company where teams would choose to volunteer together, instead of the standard after-work happy hour or dinner.
Making an impact in your company doesn’t always have to be costly or incredibly time consuming. Sometimes investing in a small project or spending just a little more time to make the workplace experience unique has the best impact on how others perceive your work.
“When I think of projects that impact everyone, nothing sums that up more to me than office moves, and I’ve had the privilege of planning eight of them,” said Jessie. “On day one, people were amazed by the space, the ease of the flow, and the attention to detail that the team put into it, and that was amazing to experience.”
The role of office management is often a selfless job, where hard work can easily go unnoticed. However, when you successfully tackle a project like an office move, it’s nearly impossible for your team not to notice. If you don’t have a large project or move coming up, caring for your space and keeping ops running smoothly will make a bigger difference than you think.
Time, time, time
A common theme that came up during the discussion was, “How the heck can I get more hours in my day?” We all know the answer to this — you can’t. You can, however, continuously improve the way in which you work, and what you let yourself take home with you.
“One of the biggest challenges in any role, but especially this role, is a lack of time,” said Marilyn.
One of our favorite tips from Marilyn was to work with services (like Managed by Q!) that save office managers time, so they can focus on higher value projects.
“When it comes down to it, nobody can give you back your time and you have to take it yourself and be strategic with it,” Marilyn said.
It’s important to recognize what work you need support with and what you need to do on your own, and to be able to ask for the help and resources to manage your workload more efficiently.
Cristina shared a similar sentiment in wishing she had more hours in the day. To combat the workload, she built herself a timer system to help her stay focused on certain tasks throughout the day. As a result, she’s learned when to say no and be mindful of what can get taken care of tomorrow.
Don’t let the work drain you
As an office manager, you’re the funnel for anything and everything someone in the office needs. This can include requests for new snacks, a complaint about the smell of the hand soap, the location of someone’s desk, or the time of the upcoming happy hour. It’s easy to take these preferences to heart, but as Jessie shared with the audience, not being emotionally attached and collapsing after a few complaints is critical to staying happy.
“Herding cats is hard, and getting people to check their emails and pack before a move is hard. If you let it get too personal, it can be easy to want to quit. Instead, focus on the positive connections and the impact you make,” Jessie said.
A huge thanks to our panelists Jessie, Cristina and Marilyn who provided incredible insight into how to navigate the world of office management. Stay tuned for more events in The Effortless Office series, co-produced by Envoy and Managed by Q.
The Effortless Office is an event series produced by Managed by Q that gives office managers and operations teams the opportunity to meet and learn from other talented professionals in their field.