Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Productivity Tips for Office Managers

I think anyone who's worked in an office environment recognizes that Office Managers end up with an awful lot of work on their desk. Whether you are acting as an Office Manager or Executive Assistant, many of the challenges hindering productivity and organization can be similar.  In small businesses, the impact can be much larger since headcount may be limited.  However, these challenges can be easily overcome by taking a step back from the day-to-day craziness to "see the forest from the trees."

There are 2 approaches to trying to streamline your own productivity. One can be to create a long list of all the areas where productivity can be improved. That approach will usually leave you with even more work, and frustration. Instead, I suggest focusing on a few areas where increasing productivity will have the largest impact.

Based on my conversations with business owners and office managers the biggest frustrations come from:

  • Overflowing email boxes
  • Prioritization of tasks
  • Delegation & Follow-Up

While Email Inbox Organization can be extremely simple it is also very hard to get started. You need to implement archiving for older messages so they aren't cluttering your inbox, set up strong filters for spam, and then read and prioritize the remaining emails. A good IT company can make this a much simpler process. Bringing in an MSP to manage your email server and put the proper filtering in place can help streamline productivity here, after that though it's up to each individual employee to read through all the remaining emails, and either delete them or create a follow-up task. In reality, each email is asking a simple yes or no question: Is this information pertinent? If it's not, delete it. If the information is pertinent to your business is there an action that needs to be taken? Create a task with a reminder to follow up on that action item. Outlook 365, and it's multitude of plug-ins allow you to easily create and complete tasks daily. 

Prioritizing tasks can be a challenge no matter what industry or position you are in. One of the largest challenges here can be keeping up with tasks across a bunch of platforms. The first step I suggest is to choose one application or service to keep track of all your tasks. Whether you choose to do this in your CRM, email, calendar or third party software/application is up to you. A good IT company can help point you in the right direction for your business. For example, if you're using a CRM (like Salesforce) chances are there is a plug-in to push/pull your appointments and tasks from the cloud to your Outlook calendar. A little bit of research on yours, or your IT company's part could save a lot of time and headache down the line. 

Delegation can be a tough egg to crack for Office Managers who on top of their own jobs and tasks somehow always end up with everything everyone else is struggling with coming to their desk. It's important to ask yourself what is my job description? What is the job description of my colleagues and employees? What needs to be done, and whose job is it to complete it? How many minutes/hours a day are you spending on tasks that aren't really yours to complete? Are you spending time on server maintenance or computer upkeep? What is the value of those minutes and hours? Does it make sense to hire an assistant, an in-house IT person, an outside sales rep, or outsource your IT to a managed services provider? Or, is there someone/something in-house that needs to be fixed so that the employees you already have can be productive? Only you can answer these questions based on your business model, but it can be great to have 3rd parties consult on your ROI (return on investment) concerning specific aspects of your company.