I’m an Office Manager! There, I’ve said it. I’ve admitted that after 28 years in the industry I’ve aspired to my new role as an Office Manager (even though my Linked-In has not evolved and says Regional Manager!). It’s amazing how these two words have consumed so much air time in my life in the past 10 weeks. Having recently moved, the role of Office Manager is the top of the chain within the company, where all aspire to this lofty title, with only the roles MD and COO above. I have questioned whether it’s just ego tapping at me and I should just get over it. Yet the reaction from the Industry and my network to this title on my business card has been interesting to say the least, let alone challenging and even at times comical. I’ve received calls asking if I wanted to buy 2000 blue felt tip pens at a cracking reduced rate, asked to lead the fire evacuation demonstration including the “whoop whoop” and “beep beep”, and asked by a client when attending a meeting, “Why is the Office Manager at this meeting on variations?!”
This is not to take away anything from a true Office Manager. The true Office Managers role is running the day to day office admin issues and the admin team which is a vital part in enabling an office to perform to its highest level.
However that’s not my role.
My role is to inspire and develop a high performing team, develop a culture of fun, enjoyment and achievement, (refer to my friends Jannie Mcleods recent Blog “The meaning of work – Arbejdsglaede” Read Here) and lead my team to success, which we can all benefit from and therefore be proud of our performance as a team. As you know from previous blogs I pride myself on looking for the opportunity in everything I do and I love a challenge, but this has been an interesting journey so far. In any other business I’d be the General Manager or Regional Director. So what is in a title and how do people’s reactions and expectations measure up to those titles?
I’m a huge believer that in today’s competitive markets, especially in the consulting world where our people are our differentiator, our business cards and titles should be areas that start conversations in a positive inquisitive way. For example the CEO of Mid America Motorworks is called Chief Cheerleader. Allen and Gerritsen’s head of Business Developments title is Creator of Opportunities and InteQ Corp. Graphics Designer is called Crayon Evangelist. Recently, I was at a Property Council of Australia’s Mentor Speed Networking night, great event, and met David Barker from Arups. He handed over his card and his title on it was Building Physics Engineer. This started a great conversation about him being the science guy of Arup. The title was ambiguous enough to start a great conversation and intriguing in terms of what he actually did. As humans we are naturally inquisitive and love to have an intelligent conversation learning something new. The title on your business card is a great ice breaker for this, giving the opportunity to leave a first and lasting impression on our clients and partners in industry.
For example, I’m currently advertising for the role of Manager of First Impressions. To most businesses this is the Receptionist, but if we take a moment to think, this is the person who meets our clients, colleagues and peers first. The type of welcome this person gives to your guests is the first window into what our company is all about. If that person is grumpy and rude, people don’t want to return to the office and associate the company as one they don’t want to work with or partner with. If the person is smiling, welcoming, well presented, helpful and efficient, then the company is seen as professional with a can do attitude. So surely this person is so much more than a Receptionist? That’s where they sit, not what they achieve. Manager of First Impressions is so much more appropriate, interesting and also engaging.
I’m a fan of the thinking that your business title should reflect what you do, not be vague because of a banding the business has set. Level bandings need to live in the background for management purposes. Titles are outward industry facing that need to reflect you and raise questions, intrigue and potentially captivate. There is always the argument that a too specific title narrows a conversation to that position when we should be selling the broader business. I argue that good people will always promote the whole business, and a great conversation starter like an intriguing title helps facilitate that rather than the title of Consultant or Principal.
So back to the Office Manager that I am.
If we add the logic behind the Manager of First Impressions title to this role and break down what I actually do, what do we get? Inspirer, motivator, leader, manager, owner of the profit and loss, psychologist, analyst, futurist and a little bit of luck. What title could possibly encompass all of that? As a matter of fact, if I look at the back of my business card it says; Extraordinary Together… I love that, and many Clients have recently commented on how much they like that term when they have been handed my business card.
I’ve got it.
My new title should be Regional GM of Extraordinary!