All business owners want smooth operations for their businesses. When the operations of a business are running the way they should be, it makes life easier for the business owners, employees, and customers. However, when a business cannot get a handle on its operations, it increases the stress on the employees, the quality of the products usually drops, and salespeople have a hard time landing and keeping customers happy. That is why having a good operations manager is crucial.
Good operations managers help lead a team, lower operational risk and can help make a business’s products better. For this to happen, however, an operations manager needs a good set of goals to shoot for. In this article, we’ll look at some important goals for an operations manager.
What is an Operations Manager?
The operations manager of a department or organization can wear multiple hats and have different job descriptions. However, typically, the position is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a company. They are there to make sure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
The primary responsibility of an operations manager is to manage the processes that convert inputs (like labor, materials, and equipment) into outputs (like goods and services). This involves overseeing production, managing the quality of products or services, and ensuring that operations are cost-effective.
To reach these goals, an operations manager must have a deep understanding of the company’s processes. They also need to understand the company’s goals so that the manager can see how operations can be optimized to reach those goals. Operations managers are also sometimes required to hire, train, and manage their employee’s quality of work.
Sometimes organizations will combine the operations manager position with that of an office manager. However, these two positions are not exactly the same and often require a different set of skills and focuses. Let’s take a look at the differences in the next section.
Operations Manager vs Office Manager
For many businesses, both of these positions are important. That is because even though some responsibilities of these positions overlap, these two positions differ significantly in scope. They are also different when it comes to the influence within an organization the position may hold.
An operations manager plays more of a strategic role. This also means that many of their goals are strategic goals. You tend to see operations managers focus on the broader aspects of a business’s functionality. They are primarily concerned with overseeing the production and delivery of the company’s products or services. This involves managing the entire operational process.
Their decisions often have a direct impact on the company’s profitability and market competitiveness. They also deal with high-level planning, including managing budgets, supply chains, and logistics.
On the other hand, an office manager’s goals typically revolve around overseeing the day-to-day administrative functions of an office. Their role is more internally focused. Usually, office managers are responsible for leading the administrative staff. They also help with things like maintaining office supplies, handling correspondence, and overseeing the general upkeep of the office environment.
They also play a key role in organizing office procedures, managing calendars, and possibly handling basic HR duties such as onboarding new employees.
1. Optimize Operational Efficiency
Operational efficiency is a business’s ability to minimize the wasting of time, effort, and materials as much as possible. This is not a one-person job. However, it is one of the major things operations managers should be overly concerned about. The goal of reaching operational efficiency is often a long-term one for businesses. It also usually includes using multiple methods, collecting scores of data, and bringing in the right personnel to execute strategies.
None of this, however, guarantees operational efficiency will be reached. But, a good operations manager will help an organization’s chances of reaching this goal.
Operations managers should have a goal of learning management techniques. For example, using the Kaizen method to reach goals can help operations managers in a big way. This method focuses on continuous improvement through small, incremental changes, which are often employed. Another example would be to implement principles of lean management, such as the 5S methodology (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain), which can help in organizing workplaces in a manner that reduces waste.
Additionally, operations managers need to stay abreast of technological advancements. Implementing cutting-edge technologies like automation, AI, and data analytics can significantly enhance operational efficiency. Automation, for instance, can take over repetitive tasks, freeing up human resources for more complex responsibilities.
Data analytics can provide insights into operational trends and potential areas of improvement. The goal is to create a system where all components work seamlessly together. Hopefully, the result will be a more streamlined operation.
2. Improve Quality Control
A business goal that is usually set by leaders for operations managers is improving quality control. The quality of the product or service often determines if customers will return to the company to purchase again or if they will find another business with higher quality standards. On the operations side, managers need to do their part to make sure their quality is not the reason a customer chooses to take their business elsewhere.
One way of improving quality is by integrating automated quality control systems that can significantly reduce human error. Technologies such as machine vision for defect detection and automated reporting tools can ensure consistent and objective quality checks.
It’s not just about detecting and fixing errors; it’s about creating an organizational culture that aims for excellence and continuous improvement. The end goal is to deliver products or services that not only meet but exceed customer expectations.
Encouraging staff to suggest improvements and be actively involved in quality control processes not only improves morale but also leverages their hands-on experience. This can be achieved through regular training sessions and workshops, as well as recognition programs for employees who contribute to quality improvements.
3. Enhance Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction should be the goal for every business that wants to keep its doors open. While frontline sales representatives or even dedicated customer experience teams are thought to hold a lot of responsibility for the satisfaction of customers, the truth is every team member contributes to customer satisfaction. This means that even operations managers need to make enhancing customer satisfaction a goal.
Operations managers must also work closely with other departments. They should work with the sales and customer service employees to make sure everyone is on the same page. Oftentimes there is a disconnect between areas of production and sales. If the sales team sells a product and the operations department cannot deliver the product as expected then the customer is not going to be happy.
Effective communication channels are key. This is true for both internally and with customers. Operations managers need to understand the pressure sales teams feel for making sales. Conversely, sales reps need to understand the deadlines and crucial elements of meeting operational goals.
Once all departments are on the same page they can work together to serve the customer and meet the customer’s expectations.
4. Enhance Risk Management
Effective risk management is critical in operations management. It involves identifying potential risks that could disrupt the operational process and devising strategies to mitigate these risks. Operations managers must conduct regular risk assessments.
- Identifying Risks: The first step is to identify potential risks that could impact the organization. These risks can be varied, including operational risks, strategic risks, or even compliance risks.
- Risk Analysis: Once risks are identified, the next step is to analyze them. This involves understanding the likelihood of each risk occurring and the potential impact it could have on the organization.
- Risk Evaluation: After analyzing the risks, they need to be evaluated to determine their severity. This involves comparing the level of risk against the risk appetite and tolerance of the organization. It helps in prioritizing which risks need immediate attention and which can be monitored over time.
- Developing a Risk Management Plan: Based on the evaluation, a risk management plan is developed. This plan outlines how each identified risk will be managed or mitigated. It can include actions such as implementing new policies, changing business processes, training employees, or purchasing insurance.
- Implementation of Mitigation Strategies: The strategies outlined in the risk management plan are then put into action.
Not all risks cannot be avoided. However, operations managers should have goals around managing those risks so that the business and its employees are not exposed to the terrible things that could happen if risks are not mitigated.
5. Ensure Employee Engagement and Development
Low employee engagement is an increasingly prevalent problem. Across all industries, more workers are reporting that they are unhappy at work. According to a Gallup report, 51% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, while 13% are actively disengaged. This unhappiness will prevent your company from being its best.
When employees are disengaged, they may not be fully invested in their work and may not be putting in the effort required to achieve their goals. This can lead to a decrease in productivity, quality, and overall performance.
However, the opposite is true when a company has a workforce that is fully engaged. A team of engaged employees experiences higher productivity, a sense of community, and satisfaction with their work. Another Gallup report on employee engagement shows that companies with a highly engaged workforce have 21% higher profitability.
Operations managers must recognize that the most valuable asset in any organization is its people. Ensuring employee engagement and development is crucial not just for the morale of the workforce, but also for the overall productivity and efficiency of the operation.
While employee engagement is not the sole responsibility of operations managers, they do play a part in the overall engagement and morale of the business. Especially, the department they are heading. Managers should set clear goals around increasing employee engagement to make sure they are getting the best from their employees. They should also make sure that employee goals and company goals are aligned. This will help employees feel more connected with the company and thus more engaged.
Operations managers have their work cut out for them. They are responsible for so many things within the organization. Their jobs can be stressful but can also be rewarding. The key is for operations managers to know what is expected of them and to have the autonomy to pursue their goals. As these goals are met over time, the manager, employees, customers, and leaders will all benefit