Operations Manager Spotlight: Evolving Expectations
As recruiters, we are constantly communicating with companies looking to scout candidates as well as with potential employees who, in turn, are sizing up prospective employers. Our unique position in the middle of this marketplace affords us a bird’s eye view of the emerging trends and evolving “wants” on both sides of the dynamic.
When considering operations managers there are certain desirable qualities that spring to mind. Strong leadership and people skills are necessary in order to motivate and guide those doing the hands-on work. The ability to think analytically, solve problems and multi-task are more obvious examples. But all positions evolve and those on both sides of the hiring process must adjust accordingly. The following are just a few examples of trending expectations I have noticed with regards to operations managers. Do you agree? Have I missed anything? I will look forward to your feedback.
The best candidate for any position is always in high demand and operations managers are no different. One of the key factors for success in any operation is the condition of its facilities. For a top-notch operations manager, moving to a company that has not invested in its equipment, tools, processes, software or facilities is akin to setting one’s self up for failure.
Would Bill Belichick say goodbye to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in order to coach a bottom tier team with a has-been defence and a never-will-be quarterback? Would Steven Spielberg be interested in producing a high school musical?
Perhaps these examples are over the top but the point remains; attracting top talent to manage your facilities requires an investment in facilities that are themselves top level. While it is true that pivoting to new technology can be a painful process, it is also the case that failure to do so can be costly in today’s competitive marketplace.
On the other side of the coin, companies have certain expectations of their operations managers including an increasing level of financial literacy. The position involves having one foot on the floor and the other in the front office; in order to bridge that gap one must speak both languages fluently. The things that occur in the operations side of the business have a direct impact on the bottom line so an understanding of financial goals, strategies, benchmarks and accounting is a logical differentiator for someone looking to score this highly sought after position. The operations manager should be able to utilize proper accounting methods as well as collect and interpret data that will help drive process improvement decisions, and have a familiarity with profits & loss, key performance indicators and forecasting.
Increasingly, operations managers are being asked to manage additional facilities, often including those outside of the country. As such, foreign currency accounting also becomes a key skill, as does multilingualism. In short, if you’re going to help a company make money, it helps to understand money.
As we all know, attracting top talent means offering top compensation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or an operations manager) to figure that out. Profit sharing is becoming commonplace in compensation packages these days, and it only makes sense. No matter the level of competency in senior management, a company will not experience success unless it is able to perform its core functions smoothly and consistently.
Since the operations manager is the key to this major component of corporate success, giving him or her a piece of the action can be a powerful and logical, motivator. The financial success of the company thus directly correlates to the financial success of the operations manager, providing all the incentive in the world for the OM to work strategically and relentlessly to make sure the job gets done.
Of course, if you’re just looking for a warm body to fill the position, then a salary will suffice, but, with the function being so valuable, it pays to have someone who is highly skilled as well as highly motivated.
We’re curious to know what you have observed so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us. As this, and other, positions continue to evolve, it will be the job candidates with their ear to the ground that are most capable of developing and providing value to employers. Likewise, the employers invested in meeting the expectations of top talent will be in the best position to secure it.
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