by Joanne Leitschuh
It's hard to believe that 14 years ago I knew nothing about the jewellery wholesale business. I leaped from dietetics and food service to an office environment filled with the complexities of jewellery distribution. 14 years ago I had a lot to learn about EVERYTHING! Today I still have a lot to learn! The lessons, however, are now more refined, more intricate.
I felt I needed a fresh look at my job as office manager. I knew I would benefit from an "outsider", a managerial expert. I found the book, Office Management: Increasing Efficiency and Effectiveness by Manning and Haddock. There were only 70 pages, so I thought I could digest the helpful hints without a lot of study. I was to be proven wrong!
I could tell immediately that these authors knew how to be concise: "Your job is to manage your workers, the workflow and the workplace so that external customers receive quality service and your company makes a profit." This was a simple opening sentence but one that said it all. I saw their five "musts" quickly:
I must be an effective planner.
I must be a people-person.
I must develop standards and controls for productivity.
I must communicate effectively.
I must ensure that everyone is happy!
Help! How am I supposed to develop these skills? Definitely I won't be a perfect manager overnight. However, through the years, I have learned a great deal from many mistakes and many attempts to organise myself and others. I guess it takes a certain natural sensitivity or insight to assess how the projects and those involved are developing. I can see where wisdom is needed to know when to suggest a change in plan or when to speak to someone about their performance.
For example, last month our design team did an assessment of our proposed 1998 monthly jewellery introductions. They calculated that four out of the six new collections were late due to various reasons. These delays were beginning to make a big impact on our sales. After discussing "What Went Wrong" we made suggestions as to "How to Improve". I saw that I personally needed to get more involved in communication between our factory and our design team. Creative adjustments in our Design Plan were also made to allow us to catch-up.
I know I am fortunate in that I don't have to manage with a heavy hand. I work with people that all want the best for each other and the business. This makes my job a joy--to be someone who is part of a team.
I realize that it's impossible to follow a list of Do's and Don'ts in management. However, I see there are always methods to improve and better means of communicating. So, can I say that our office is under control and productive? Yes, as long as I keep looking, listening and taking the necessary steps--one at a time!
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