What Does an Operations Manager Do?
The roles and responsibilities of business operations managers encompass almost every aspect of running a successful business. From working on HR-related activities to providing direct support for operational leadership, a day in the life of an operations manager is never dull. For that reason, it’s not always easy to pinpoint what their job duties are. So, what does an operations manager do and why is it so highly regarded?
What business operations managers really do depends on the nature of the business, but one thing is certain — they keep the entire company together. They play a central role in managing discrete teams and aligning them in order to achieve company-wide goals.
Working in business operations management entails enormous responsibility to individual teams and the company as a whole. It requires a keen, analytical mind that doesn’t shy away from problems when the pressure is high. In this line of work, you’ll only find people with the most diverse skill sets imaginable.
Business operations management is a demanding but lucrative career path that’s not going out of style anytime soon. Now might be the right time to learn all you need to know about this kind of work and see if it suits you. If you’d like to pursue a career in business operations, you’ll find all the information you need right here.
What Is An Operations Manager?
An operations manager is a person charged with handling daily operations, as well as maintaining operational efficiency and productivity. In other words, they ensure that every process within the company is running smoothly and optimally. They are also in charge of setting new efficiency goals, optimizing existing processes, and improving cash flow.
The operations manager position is one of great responsibility for people and projects alike. The role of business managers is to get separate teams of employees to work towards a common goal and to do so seamlessly. They’re there to make sure that all of the teams reach their individual goals without a hitch. As much as it’s crucial for business managers to delegate tasks properly, so is making sure that teams have everything they need to perform their tasks.
In reality, business manager positions are leadership positions. As such, they are meant for people who exhibit strong leadership traits and a penchant for organization. Leadership doesn’t come to everyone naturally, which makes it a highly sought-after characteristic.
For that reason, you wouldn’t be wrong to define business operations managers as leaders with the necessary core management skills and the ability to make complex business decisions under pressure.
Operations Manager Job Description
Operations manager job description and role varies depending on several factors such as seniority, expertise, and the industry. Generally speaking, operations managers are senior roles from the get-go — you can’t hope to become an operations manager without previous job experience and some other prerequisites that we’ll cover later on. Regardless of previous experience or seniority, business operations management always has more commonalities than it does differences.
We briefly mentioned the operations manager’s responsibility for people and projects. However, their role goes far beyond such generic claims. An operations manager job description includes:
- Core operations. Staffing and financial processes such as invoicing comprise core operations. Recruitment also falls under this category.
- People. Particularly, engagement and development of the workforce. A good operations manager can pair clients with employees they deem most appropriate. That helps build a better relationship with the client, as well as making sure that both parties have clear expectations and good communication. As for development, it’s up to the operations manager to set training standards and offer training for different skill sets (e.g. communications training).
- Budgeting. It’s one of their most important tasks. Managers are expected to forecast expenses, manage margins and costs, and handle all tasks pertaining to resources. Purchasing materials and planning inventory would both fall under this category as well.
- Strategy. Talented managers and leaders formulate strategies and operational plans that they strive to realize. Operational objectives are measurable and actionable goals that bring the company value in the short term while getting you one step closer to the long-term goals. Operations managers create growth strategies and then provide the plans and support for achieving these strategies.
- Project delivery. Delivery assurance, client delivery, quality assurance, and relationship management are all crucial parts of an operations manager’s job description. They manage quality assurance programs with the aim of delivering only the best product or service. A lack of quality assurance programs can make or break product or service delivery, and that’s something that every operations manager with experience knows.
- Legal compliance. It’s up to the operations manager to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. They file all the required legal and regulatory documents on top of all their other responsibilities.
As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap between these broad categories. We could summarize the job description by saying that operations managers set training standards, ensure the quality of customer service, handle finances, and strategize.
It should be clear by now why the role of an operations manager is stressful, albeit rewarding. It’s your job to be the glue that holds the entire company together. Anyone who is less than exceptionally organized likely won’t keep it together.
Being such a demanding and responsible job that it is, a career in business operations means you’ll be working more than regular hours, and frequently. Overtime is a fact of life for all operations managers out there.
Operations Manager Responsibilities
Business operations manager responsibilities include:
- Improving operations management systems
- Leading and supporting a large team, training them, and offering guidance.
- Coming up with key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Collecting data in a timely manner so as to have a good overview of operations metrics needed to achieve productivity targets.
- Working together with legal and safety departments to ensure all activities are in compliance with the law.
- Managing materials and inventory.
- Conducting budget reviews and reporting cost plans to upper management.
An operations manager needs a variety of skills to succeed, many of which are intrinsic rather than trained. Leadership skills, for example, come more naturally to some people and are otherwise difficult to attain.
As an operations manager, your arsenal of skills should consist of:
- Soft skills. These are skills desirable in all professions. They include time management, empathy, and excellent communication skills. Most of them are interpersonal skills that are so crucial to successfully managing teams of people and all the clients.
- Organizational skills. These skills are entirely attainable through constant practice and dedication. Operations managers need to be constantly on the lookout for a way to improve their organizational skills, although they need to be exceptional at the very least.
- Problem-solving skills. Like leadership, these skills tend to be on a more intrinsic side. While successful problem-solving often has a lot to do with job experience and can be acquired, some people are simply better at it than others.
- Computer skills. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to do your job properly without knowing your way around the computer. As an operations manager, you need to have more than just the basic knowledge of Microsoft Office. You need to know how to work with databases and use communication tools well.
Regardless of how skilled you think you are, you should never stop building skills and improving them even further. You’ll need all the know-how you can get, as well as the right data analytics tools if you’re to adapt and improve operational management systems that are already near perfect.
No matter how outlandishly skilled you are, the operations manager is still a senior role that requires serious qualifications if you’re to even be considered for the job.
Let’s start with education. You need to have a bachelor’s degree in operations management or business administration. Degrees in accounting, engineering, or project management can also be helpful in landing you an operations manager job. In some cases, a candidate with an MBA could be what the recruiters are after.
While formal education will help you go a long way, it’s no substitute for job experience. The best you can do is offer both, and candidates that can are certainly going to have an advantage over all others.
However, a hands-on experience might be more highly valued than formal education in some cases. On the other hand, there are companies that offer entry-level operations manager roles for students who complete their formal education.
You’ll need at least two years of experience in relevant fields before becoming an operations manager. For example, you could start working in HR and build your career from there. After all, a leadership position such as this one requires skills typical for human resources personnel, and experience in HR can prove valuable.
In fact, a common career path for an operations manager starts with HR. You begin your career as an HR assistant, then work your way up to HR manager and finally Head of HR operations. After that, you should have enough experience to apply for your first operations manager role.
The position of operations assistant is also a path to becoming an operations manager in due time. However, the HR path more commonly ends with becoming a COO.
On top of all that, you should take operations manager courses to really make yourself stand out. Operations managers need to have holistic sets of skills, which is why additional courses are beneficial. You’ll need to understand everything from financial and cash-flow management to inventory keeping.
Operations Manager Jobs
As we’ve pointed out, operations manager jobs can differ quite a bit, although they all require similar sets of skills on the manager’s part. They can manage:
- Business operations
- Store operations
- Sales operations
- Travel operations
- Online operations
- vRealize operations
- Amazon operations
- Legal operations
- Logistics operations.
Operations Manager Resume
Operations manager candidates face tough competition, going against the cream of the crop to land the job of their dreams. Being an operations manager is no entry-level role and is, in fact, conceptually much more similar to the role of chief operating officer (COO) than it is to the common managerial layer.
When you apply for the position of operations manager, you’re taking one of the most responsible roles within the company. You can rest assured other candidates will see it that way too, so you will have to compete with the best leaders and business administrators in the industry. While you don’t really have control over who applies for a job at the same company as you do, you can make sure that your resume stands out more than any other.
A resume will play a pivotal role in moving forward and landing the job you need. For that reason, consider hiring a professional resume writer. While you are an expert in your field, a professional resume writer is a master at what they do. Their expertise could be the deciding factor in whether you get the job or not (assuming you have the necessary experience and education).
If you decide to write the resume all by yourself, then make sure to keep it simple and concise. Don’t go overboard with frivolous details of every little process you had to manage. Remember, the competition is steep and it’s fair to assume every one of the other candidates has had similar experiences and responsibilities. They won’t be wasting the hiring manager’s time with details of every little win they’ve achieved over the years.
The focus of your resume should be on applicable work experience and the impact you had on operations. Quantify everything you’ve ever done for the company and show how big of an impact it’s had on its profitability, productivity, and efficiency. Numbers are your greatest ally in writing a resume since your role as operations manager boils down to getting bigger and better numbers for the company. Show that you can boost relevant figures, and you’ll be ready for a resume review.
Other than that, customize your resume to the specific of each job you’re applying to. It’s true that companies use an operations manager job description template when posting jobs, but that doesn’t mean you should send a template right back to them. Your resume must be as unique as you can make it out to be. It needs to show that you have all the relevant experience and education while highlighting the traits and achievements that make you stand out.
In fact, it’s the whole reason why companies use a job description template in the first place. They need to emphasize the specifics of that particular operations manager role while listing out all the regular responsibilities of the job. The work you’ll be doing is equally responsible and challenging regardless of what you call it.
If you really do decide to write the resume on your own, at the very least submit it for a resume review. It won’t hurt to get some feedback on your resume and make adjustments where necessary.
Operations Manager Salary
The business operations manager salary is among the highest on the market. It’s one of the top 30 highest paying jobs that also happens to be looking at steady employment growth in the years to come. There’s always a demand for outstanding managers, but the supplies are limited. So, what’s the average salary for an operations manager?
US business operations managers had a median salary of $100,780 in 2019. The salaries range from $65,660 to $157,430 depending on the experience, seniority, job performance, and the particular role.
The average salary for a business operations manager is higher than all the other specific managerial roles. The only one that comes close is the salary for managers of legal operations, but it’s still not as high.