Every organization needs to understand what its customers want to buy to tailor its production accordingly. It’s down to the operations manager to ensure that all pieces come together smoothly through different processes and departments.
What is an Operations Manager?
An operations manager is someone who oversees the day-to-day operations at all levels of an organization. The key functions of operations manager include operational planning, budgeting, hiring and training employees, initiating projects, managing people, and improving the overall performance across the organization.
The main duties of operations managers also include overseeing manufacturing processes, procuring materials, inventory management, customer service and logistics. Basically anything you can think of that has an effect on the way things work at your company.
In essence, the operations manager is accountable for ensuring all products and services are made and delivered according to the customer’s expectations.
Operations managers are in charge of the “big picture” — which is understanding and coordinating supply chains and demand distributions.
The supply chain is the culmination of raw materials to finished goods, and these need to be accounted for as they enter into an operation. The distribution or conveyance of goods throughout a facility requires proper design and preventive maintenance practices.
However, the role of operations management in the organization varies from industry to industry and from company to company, depending on the type of business operation it conducts.
For example, in a clothing factory, an operations manager coordinates all factors of production from beginning to end — they oversee the entire operations, from ordering the materials for garments, turning them into finished products, and shipping them to customers.
In a transportation company, the operations manager controls all aspects of fleet management and oversees the entire operations of a transportation network, including scheduling drivers, maintaining vehicles, and ensuring that cargo arrives on time.
However, almost all operations managers focus on ensuring that customers are happy and the company achieves its business goal. They oversee how a company’s assets are used to produce goods and services or procure resources from outside sources.
So, the core functions of operations management tend to be similar from one industry to another.
1. Job Requirement for an Operations Manager
Developing Operations Strategy
- Developing the annual Operations Strategy
- Sourcing new ideas to input into the Strategy and make necessary strategic decisions
- Implementing the operations strategy together with the operations team and monitor progress
Making Operations Plan
- Responsible for operations planning
- Communicating the operations plan to the operations department and other stakeholders
- Regularly reviewing the plan and make the necessary strategic adjustments
- Implementing the operations plan and provides regular feedback to the team on progress
- Monitoring the adherence to operations best practices with a high focus on compliance with all regulations and legislation
- Developing annual budgets based on operational and financial targets
- Monitoring operations budget to ensure expenditure is aligned to budget allocations
- Regularly initiating cost saving projects to reduce operating costs
- Conducting regular operational and performance auditing
- Driving operational performance
Operational Performance Management
- Driving operational performance
- Managing the performance of direct reports, ensuring performance goals are achieved
- Conducting regular operational and performance auditing
- Utilizing data to produce insights for making operational decisions to reduce cost and improve operational efficiencies
- One of the key activities of an operational manager is to manage people
- Providing leadership and creating a high performing operations team
- Recruiting new staff members in collaboration with the Human Resources team
- Developing succession plans with the direct reports for the operations department
- Coaching and mentoring direct reports and the team to foster personal growth and teamwork, ensuring that the operations department is fully resourced to meet the business objectives
- Engaging with all stakeholders to address operations performance issues, identify solutions and make the necessary adjustments to the operating business model
- Supporting the collaboration across functions to resolve operations challenges
- Developing and maintaining good relationships with all stakeholders to ensure business continuity and smooth running of operations
2. Key Skills for Operations Manager
- To be the best operations manager you need to have great judgment and make the right decisions. But crucially, a good operations manager knows that it isn’t simply a matter of making critical decisions alone.
- It’s about involving everyone in decision making as necessary and moves forward together as a team.
- A great operations manager is a great listener and always lets people know what is going on within the company. To succeed in operations, you must engage in open two-way communication with all types of people and receive the unfiltered information.
- The best operations managers are always open to all sorts of information whether it’s good or bad. They can speak clearly and listen actively.
- The best operations manager is curious and outward-looking. To be a successful manager of operations, you need to have an interest in what is going on elsewhere away from your company and pick new good ideas to keep improving the operations processes.
- The good operations manager understands the importance of relationships, empowers people, and shows great empathy. They know that if you get the relationships right the people will be happy to cooperate naturally
- One of the key qualities of an operations manager is self-awareness. It is the ability to understand own actions and hold self-accountable that separates good operations managers from the rest. When they make a mistake, they own up to it.
- The ability to influence others is based on building loyalty, trust, and sacrificing self-glory. The best operations manager builds trust by establishing their credibility and ensuring their motives clearly understands.
- They let people have ownership of ideas and seek input on important decisions that will affect them individually or the team.
6 Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Question
What makes a good operations manager?
1. Good Organisation
Most good operations managers tend to be organized and mindful of details. Being organized means to be on top of all operational issues. That is one of the key qualities of a good operations manager. They can think and plan ahead and ensuring that things of higher priorities are always at the forefront.
The best operations managers are very proactive. Working proactively eliminates the need to react to panic in case of changes to operational processes.
Circumstances and priorities change all the time and when that happens plans must be reviewed and adjusted to keep the operational processes moving forward.
2. Focusing on Customers’ Demands
Focusing on customer’s needs is one of the key functions of operations management. The good operations manager ensures that the customer gets the best value of service — meaning to receive whatever they want, and on time.
Failure to meet the needs of the customers has consequences including lost trust, damaged relationships, and negative publicity. Therefore, a good operations manager anticipates possible challenges and prepare countermeasures to ensure that there’s no operational failure that can affect meeting customer needs.
3. Managing Operational Risk
Operational risk is the likelihood of failure or interruptions within the company operations processes. So, operational risk management safeguards a company’s operations by minimising the the risk of failure and interruptions.
It refers to the uncertainties and negative consequences a company faces during conducting its daily operations activities, procedures, and systems.
Operational risk examples such as extreme weather and changes in regulatory rules come from external factors. Another example of operational risk is the possibility of mistakes due to taking wrong actions or making bad decisions by employees.
To mitigate these risks, a good operations manager is always on the lookout for potential interruptions in the operations functions and implement necessary controls
4. Breaking the Silo Mentality
One of the key duties of operations manager is to manage across different departments. Unfortunately, some of the people in these departments can have a silo mentality and withhold information, ignore priorities, or delay operational processes where other teams are involved.
The attitudes people show within the company are not accidental. That is what they get from the company culture and it affects operational performances one way or the other.
The silo mentality is an attitude that comes from the behavior of leaders and trickles down to employees.
The silo mindset can affect operations, destroy relationships, and people morale. Company priorities are spread across different operational functions.
So, operations managers have to ensure all company functions interact with one another without obstacles. The aim is to remove operational barriers between functions and allow information flow.
5. Having Mental Courage
Managing a company’s operations is a very grueling and demanding task. So, the successful operations manager usually shows great determination and willpower to get things done. In addition, a good operations manager is often patient, optimistic, and remain calm during a crisis.
The best operations managers are always willing to take risks and usually believe in their ability to guide the company’s operations during tough times.
6. Building a Genuine Operations Team
Managing the best operations requires good people to deliver optimum results. So successful operations managers are great operations team-builders. They know how to hire, nurture, mentor, and develop the right people to drive the operations.
It is very rare to find an individual employee with a combination of skills that are required to successfully run the entire operations. Therefore, having a group of people, each with different skills that complement rather than duplicate each other is what makes a genuine operations team.
What do you think are the key functions of operations managers? Please leave your comments in the box below.