In a recent blog, I referenced the DISC personality assessment tool in describing the ideal production manager. Let’s take a look at what DISC, and other, qualities the ideal office manager might have. First, a little about DISC: Imagine a graph with a horizontal midpoint. Across the top are the letters D, I, S, C, where D is for Dominant, I is for Influencer, S is for Support, and C for Compliant. If the person is high-D then the point on the graph below “D” would be near the top. If the individual has just a bit of D, then the point on the graph would be nearer to the middle, likely just below the midpoint. And so on for all four quadrants.
An office manager is likely to have a tiny bit of "D" in his or her profile. Having a bit of D indicates that the individual is able to take direction from others, is not an overly aggressive take-charge person, and is able to say what is on his or her mind without letting a lot of issues build up. This is good, since the office manager needs to be able to work closely with a variety of people, including the company owner. The downside of someone with some D is that he or she might have a tendency to want to take charge of too much. This is something to look out for.
Many good salespeople are higher-I. A good office manager candidate is somewhere around the horizontal midpoint of the graph or below it for "I." In other words, he or she is not controlled by this aspect of their personality. Having higher-I inclines someone to talk more than less. If the office manager talks a lot, then several things can happen. He might be prone to making more mistakes than someone who is more focused on the work. And he might not take direction as well as he needs to because he is not paying close attention to what is being discussed. This could literally turn out to be a disaster for the company since the office manager typically is doing data input and is often the director of first impressions (the person who answers the phone when a potential client calls and then fills out the lead sheet with needed info from the caller). If either of these tasks are badly handled, then the company will be in poor shape.
Your office manager candidate would have S between the horizontal midpoint of the graph and the top of the graph. In other words, she would be a high-S — a person who wants the approval of those she works with. To get that approval, a high-S person will place her own needs below the needs of those she works for and with. This is good for an office manager because she should be doing what the owner sets her up to do.
A risk with a very high-S office manager is that he will sometimes focus more on other people’s needs than on getting his own work done. Such behavior might include being the person employees go to when they want to complain about something, even if the office manager is not the employee’s supervisor. Again, the office manager’s manager needs to be watching out for this.
Your office manager candidate would have C somewhere above the horizontal midpoint and the top of the graph. C refers to a person’s desire to follow the rules. If the office manager’s C was very low, then she would not follow the company’s rules and would not do what she was told to do. If her C is extremely high, she will get stuck trying to figure out solutions to inconsequential problems (paralysis by analysis).
What else should be considered? A common occurrence in remodeling companies, particularly those with a male owner who who hires a woman to be the office manager, is that the office manager becomes the office spouse. What this can degenerate into is that the office manager ends up controlling more of the company than the position really is supposed to. Watch out for this.
If you are an owner and you find yourself scared to talk with the office manager, or you don’t really know what the office manager does, then this has occurred.
Time management and communication skills are essential. The office manager needs to be able to take the initiative and not wait for people to hold him or her accountable. In fact, a good office manager helps others stay on target regarding deadlines and does this in a supportive and open way.
When interviewing, pay attention to how the candidates make you feel. If a candidate does not make you feel that your well-being is important, then be careful. Why? The office manager is the company in the eyes of your clients and all those who are part of your company’s team. You need someone who represents the company well, in person, over the phone, and in written communications. You don’t want a cowboy.
Know that, as with most positions, the first person you hire will likely not last long. Don’t hang on to someone who is driving you nuts hoping it will work out. The office manager is too important to all those in the company and those who the company works with to have someone who just doesn’t get it in the position. If it doesn’t work out, then learn what you can and move on to the next candidate. Eventually you will have a keeper. Enjoy it while you do! —Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator forRemodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him email@example.com.