So you’re an executive assistant seeking advancement opportunities within your company. And you think that next step might just be to become the office manager. Is it really? And just what is the difference between an executive assistant role and that of an office manager. Our expert tells you here…
From Executive Assistant to Office Manager? Or is it the other way around?
QUESTION: I’m an executive assistant who would like to take my career one step further. The next level appears to be office manager. Can you tell me what is the difference between an executive assistant and an office manager?
ANSWER (by Diane Domeyer of Office Team): You’re not alone in facing this problem. I hear it a lot, from enterprising assistants at every level. Here are two possible solutions:
First of all, congratulations on making the decision to pursue advancement opportunities. It’s never too early to start preparing. When evaluating the next step, you’ll find that the main difference between an office manager and executive assistant is the former serves the broader needs of all employees at an organization, and the latter supports specific company leaders.
The primary job responsibility of an office manager is to coordinate office support services, including purchasing and facilities management. More specifically, you may select office vendors, supervise the purchasing process, direct mailroom and maintenance staff, and coordinate regular building safety checks and ergonomics training for employees. In addition, many office managers, especially those who work for small and midsize companies, have bookkeeping and financial responsibilities, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll.
Before taking any action, consider if you truly desire a position as an office manager. What are you motivations? If you are looking for a “step up,” this may not be the right direction for you. Though critical to the organization’s success, an office manager is not necessarily considered a more senior role than an assistant to one of the company’s officers. If, instead, you seek a change in responsibilities, pursuing a position as an office manager may be a smart career move.
If you haven’t already done so, talk to your supervisor about your interest in changing roles. Your boss may be able to provide specific guidance on what you need to do to become an office manager and detail the resources and support available to you. He or she also may alert you to other career opportunities within the organization that you have not considered.
You might find it useful to talk to people already working as office managers for input on their daily challenges and rewards. They may offer pointers on how to advance into the role and continue growing once you’re in it. Attending administrative association meetings and contacting those in your network are just a couple of ways to connect with office managers.
Many of the skills you have developed as an executive assistant will be applicable to an office manager role. For example, the ability to multitask, communicate effectively with individuals at all levels of an organization, handle basic accounting assignments and supervise other support staff will prove quite useful. However, to make the career move and be successful as an office manager, you may need to build your knowledge in new areas, such as negotiation techniques, ergonomics, and office safety and maintenance. Classes, seminars and internal training programs are just a few ways you can enhance your skill set and improve your chances of moving into an office manager position. Some colleges and professional associations even offer certification in office management.
Best of luck to you with your goals!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diane Domeyer is executive director of OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.