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The Definitive Guide: How To Become An Operations Manager

Published on: 16 Nov 2017
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Looking for a new career path and always fancied managing operations for a large brand? Or perhaps you like the sound of your friend’s Operations Manager job but don’t really have a clue what he/she does day-to-day?

Perhaps you think it sounds like a posh role and that ‘Operations Manager’ as a job title on your business card or CV – or both, for that matter - would feel great? Read on to find out what you’ll actually do in a job like this, what to expect and how on earth to get in and to get going in this exciting role…

What is an Operations Manager?

  • Job Description

    As an Operations Manager, you’ll actually occupy quite a senior role in an organisation – involving overseeing the production of goods and/or provision of services.

    It would be your specific remit to make sure that the company is running really well – as well as it possibly, possibly can – with a really good and efficient service, meeting the expectations and needs of customers and clients alike.

    You’ll basically make sure that everything goes to plan, giving people the best possible experience of the company. It is bound to come with its share of headaches as you’ll be a ‘go to’ person for anyone in the company with a gripe, but the responsibility and variety will more than make up for it, we promise you.

  • Hours of Work

    In terms of working hours, you’ll be looking at standard office opening hours - that is, Monday to Friday 8.30/9am to 5 or 5.30pm with half an hour or an hour at lunch time.

    You’ll need to be flexible though as it’s a senior role and you’ll be required to attend events, which could take place in the evenings or at weekends, either regularly or on an ad-hoc basis, dependent on the nature of your firm.

  • Main Responsibilities

    As an Operations Manager, you’ll have quite a broad remit and your specific tasks will vary greatly from company to company. Most of the time, your job will involve taking into account, monitoring and analysing your company’s current system of production in order to make sure it’s still effective, and then working out a strategy for improving it if need be. So there’s an awful lot of job satisfaction in knowing that you’ve had to make some pretty important company decisions, especially when you can see that everything is running so well.

    Your role is an absolutely essential part of any self-respecting company, as you’ll also manage more nitty gritty day-to-day activities and read/write reports.

    You’ll be quite a prominent member of the company as you’ll find yourself liaising with other members of staff, particularly with other managers; you’ll sometimes even have the hard task of broaching the subjects of inefficiency with them and methods of improvement. With this in mind, you will have to keep a level head and maintain excellent interpersonal and diplomacy skills.

    You will also present investigations to stakeholders and much higher managers and you’ll have to train and supervise new employees, as well as keep up with staff performance, alongside all of this.

    Other duties and responsibilities may include:

    • Planning for change and controlling it
    • Managing quality assurance programmes
    • Researching new technologies and other efficiency methods
    • Budget management and forecasting
    • Overseeing inventory, distribution of goods and facility layout

Key Operations Manager Qualifications

It all sounds extremely interesting, right? Tempting, even?

If you’ve read this far, we’re sure that you’re probably up for giving this a go, at least finding out whether or not you have the necessary qualifications or at least what the gaps in your experience are to get you on this super career path.

If we’re being perfectly honest, formal education and experience for the Operations Manager job description varies a lot, according to the nature of the job duties and the type of company you are employed by. However, the following are usually necessary in this kind of job:

  • A university degree in business administration, commerce, management, industrial technology or industrial engineering. It’s worth knowing that certain schools offer bachelor's and master's degrees in operations management
  • Production experience in the relevant industry
  • Knowledge and experience in organisational effectiveness and operations management
  • Knowledge or human resources’ principles and practices
  • Knowledge of business management principles and practices
  • Knowledge of finance and accounting principles and practices
  • Knowledge of project management principles and practices
  • Fantastic Information Technology skills
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Vital Operations Manager Skills

So now what? You’ve seen that you can give it a great shot in terms of your qualifications and experience, but what about your key skills and attributes? Here’s what you’ll need to succeed in the role?

  • Management Skills – managing teams across departments to achieve company-wide goals
  • People Skills – making sure that communication is working well between all the different departments
  • Presentation Skills – delivering results and ideas to different stakeholders in the business, including senior management and other members of staff
  • IT Skills – making sure that you keep up to date with relevant IT systems related to the workplace and keeping an eye on new technologies
  • Good Teamwork – making sure that the team works well together, ensuring that company objectives are met and products are delivered on time
  • Initiative – being able to ‘just get on with it’, to apply yourself to the tasks in hand and to take a lead when obstacles rear their ugly heads
  • Problem Solving – thinking outside of the box and coming up with quick solutions to problems, which could often be time consuming and costly
  • Planning – keeping one eye on the competition, staying up-to-date where necessary and making sure everyone knows in which direction the company is headed

What is a Operations Manager's Salary?

So, what can you expect to earn in such an exciting, varied and challenging role?

The average national salary is £34,102, which is a great average salary. At the entry level, an operations manager might begin on £28k depending on the size of the company, its sector and, of course, where in the country – or world – the company is.

Salaries can range as high as £75k with some of the bigger firms and for the more experienced. UK hotspots for the best jobs and salaries are usually London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leicester, Leeds and Manchester.

All salary information is given as a guide only.

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How To Become a Operations Manager

Want to become a Operations Manager? If so, how do you go about it?

The great news is that there is absolutely no set path for getting yourself into this an operations management role. Some people have a university degree and not much work experience, while others have relatively little formal education but heaps of relevant experience - it all depends on if the employer thinks you’ll be a good fit based on your combination of experience and education.

It also depends on what your industry background is, too – in general, many employers prefer it if you have some professional experience working in their field or management experience which could easily be adapted to the field.

How To Develop Your Operations Manager Career

We’re sure you’re already blown away by the exciting opportunities described for Operations Manager. So, if you’re serious about your career, read on to see what you could expect as a further step.

Career-wise, the Operations Manager’s most obvious next step is into director-level positions. Longer term, managing director level positions may also be a sensible target.

So how does an Operations Manager progress in his/her career?

There can be many routes and here are a few ideas:

  • Supply Chain Management - Supply chain management is a really important job, as the company always requires timely delivery of its materials, goods and supplies to successfully fulfill client commitments.

  • Operations Strategy - Strategy, especially in a highly competitive world, is viewed as a key skill. Strategy can be viewed as a rarer skill as it is not to be gained in all areas of work. So, make sure you hone this, along with your other key Operations Manager abilities and you’ll be sure to make yourself stand out from the rest and the best, as you look to progress your career to director level.

  • Internal Auditing - This plays a vital role in improving the quality of the goods and services that a company produces. More often than not, auditing means applying different criteria and evaluating the goods and services of a firm against globally acceptable standards.

So, there you have it! For anyone who is looking to take the plunge into something new, to shape their existing office skills into something more rounded such as those of an Operations Manager and for those who are really thinking about serious long-term and senior career progression, then look no further. Operations Managers have varied roles and can usually transfer their skills from one industry to the next.

These roles are not location-specific either so basically, if you’re having to relocate from one part of the UK to another for whatever reason, you’re likely to be able to land another Operations Manager role in some shape or form. Good luck, be confident and don’t hold back.

So there you have it; everything you need to set out on the road to a new Operations Managers career!

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