Strategies of a Successful Operations Manager

An operations manager, by definition, wears many hats for streamlining workflow, troubleshooting inefficiencies, developing company policies, and so much more. Although the job might seem overwhelming, it’s possible to keep your sanity by following a few effective strategies. Here are some best practices to keep in mind to excel at operations management.

Be a Strong Team Leader

A company is only as good as its employees. Even if you’re not in charge of hiring, you can still make sure the right people are working on the right projects, playing to their strengths, and pulling together as a team, rather than competing or drowning in roles they aren’t suited to handle.

Part of this is knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and then assessing their performance with measurable goals. Another part is training them well so they embrace the company’s culture and vision, and know how their role fits into the overall whole.

Another vital part of employee relations is how you set the tone by keeping the lines of communication wide open, connecting team members across different departments, welcoming feedback, and praising work well done. You can work wonders when you’ve got a strong staff behind you.

Clients’ Needs Come First

A vital part of your job is staying in tune with your clients. Are they happy with your products and services? Your processes may be smooth as silk, but are they resulting in more sales and customer retention?

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of building your operations to suit your company rather than your customers. It’s also easy to keep doing what has worked in the past without realizing that your clients’ needs and expectations are changing — and your company needs to respond.

Keep It Simple

Operations managers are always looking to streamline processes and keep the workflow flowing. Remember not to overcomplicate things. Remove as many steps, barriers, and approvals as possible.

When you have stellar employees, you can reduce the need for oversight and bureaucracy. If workers can’t explain the reason behind a process, or if they complain about the laborious nature of certain tasks, then it’s a green light for you to step in and remove whatever bottlenecks you discover.

Stay Ahead of the Industry Curve

Although you may feel mired in the present, you do need to pay close attention to changing industry trends so you can effectively plan for the future. Do this by attending seminars, conferences, and other training opportunities to keep your skills fresh and gain a broader perspective of where your industry is headed.

Also, it’s imperative to stay abreast of new technology that could streamline operations and automate tasks. Even your machinery can connect to the internet, “talk” to other machines, and access data. Avoid changing technology too often, though, as it takes time to implement new systems and for employees to learn new software.

Keep It Real, but Don’t Avoid All Risk

An operations manager has to live in the real world — not a perfect world — and find real solutions to real problems by analyzing real data. For example, the ideal solution to a problem may not fit the company budget, so you have to find a compromise. It’s important to keep your feet firmly grounded in analytics and metrics, while also remaining flexible enough to implement realistic solutions.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take reasonable risks. Sometimes you won’t know if something works unless you try it — preferably on a small scale before implementing it full force. When mistakes happen — and they will — look at them as learning experiences.

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