The Office Manager’s Guide to Asking for a Raise and Boosting Your Salary

5 Rockstar Office Managers Reveal How to Land a Promotion, Earn More Respect, And Get Paid More Today

“I feel undervalued and unappreciated.”

This is a phrase we’ve heard over and over again after speaking with hundreds of Office Managers, Admins and Assistants over the last several years since launching SnackNation.

We found this fact echoed in our annual State of the Office Manager Report, a first-of-its-kind survey of office managers from across the U.S. According to our survey, we found the average annual compensation for Office Managers is $52,082, with 42% earning salaries in the $25,000 – $50,000 range.

office manager salary average

However, 33% of respondents said that negotiating their own compensation was either a “big challenge” or one of their “top challenges”, making it the highest rated challenge for the upcoming year.

top challenges for office managers 2017

So we were curious…

What tips, strategies, and methods are the top performers in this role doing that others can copy and use for their own benefit?

How can other Office Managers, Admins and Assistants make a couple of small changes that will lead to big results in their careers?

We set out to find the answers.

We spoke with 5 Office Managers (some have other titles, but all perform the duties traditionally held by the “Office Manager”) to learn the “secret sauce” to their success.

Things like how they approached their boss to set up a meeting to discuss compensation, how they prepared for those meetings in order to get what they wanted, how they structure their days to stay organized and better manage their time, and even the tips they use to deal with difficult coworkers.

Each of our case study participants brings a unique background, works in a different company size and environment, has different levels of experience, so the collection of responses will be helpful no matter your circumstance.

Here is a summary of what we learned:

  1. Come prepared with salary data. Use sites like Payscale, Indeed, LInkedIn and recruiters to find out your market rate before you go in to negotiate your pay with your boss.
  2. Keep a very detailed list of everything you do. EVERYTHING. Every person we spoke with brings their long list of their responsibilities into salary negotiations.
  3. Work with as many departments and people as possible. This will give you more skills and will help you advance your career and further strengthen your case in negotiating for more pay.
  4. Anticipate your boss’ needs before he/she does. Your boss will LOVE YOU for this and it will make you indispensable.
  5. Don’t take things personally. This is vital for longevity in the role.
  6. Keep everyone in the office happy. Making everyone happy is one of the hardest parts of the Office Manager/Admin Assistant position, but one of the most important.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 5 Rockstar Office Managers to help you learn how to land a promotion, earn more respect from your boss and coworkers, and start getting paid more.

 

 

chelseywagemaker

Chelsey Wagemaker

Current Role: Office Manager

# of Employees in Office: 35

Length of employment with current company: 2.5 Years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 16 years in administrative work, of which 10 years have been focused on office management

Reports to: President

 

Chelsey has a long history of experience and knowledge in the admin and office management field. In fact, out of all the Office Managers I spoke with, Chelsey has the most experience under her belt.

One of the first things we spoke about was how fortunate she felt to work closely with a very important person at the company – the President.

She says that reporting to the President has been a good experience for her:

chelseywagemakerquoteBecause I work closely with [the President] on a day-to-day basis he does see my work, and does know what I do, and at this point after two years he kind of relies on me.

The thought of even approaching your boss to bring up compensation is enough to make most people’s stomach’s churn.

Chelsey knew her boss was busy, so leading up to her annual review, she knew it was the perfect time to make sure he knew that she wanted to discuss her compensation:

chelseywagemakerquoteI asked him “when can we carve out an hour to sit down and have this conversation.” The fortunate thing about having that work anniversary is that you guarantee, if not before, on this day we’re going to carve out time and make this happen.

She admitted that her relationship with the President has made it a lot easier for her to discuss compensation:

chelseywagemakerquoteIt’s a lot more efficient and easy for me to go into him and say that I’m doing good work, so when I ask for a little bit higher compensation he’s not going to haggle with me too much about it because he understands that I’m a value to the company.

At the same time, Chelsey understands that other people in her position don’t always have that direct relationship or level of transparency with the person in charge:

chelseywagemakerquoteIn some cases I know with admins, and with managers even, it’s kind of tough if you don’t report to that head of the company who can see your value.

Nonetheless, there are some important things you can do to approach these meetings with your boss when you want a promotion or to discuss compensation.

Here’s how Chelsey did her homework and made sure she came into her compensation meeting prepared:

chelseywagemakerquoteI actually got a raise in pay my first year at Kennedy. I had a raise and I got a promotion, so I went from Office Administrator to Office Manager.

It was last year I got my pay increased a second time, again, just because I’m supporting more staff members. I’m supporting more people, and I’ve also taken on more responsibility.

I did two things when I went into my review with [our President]. I did a survey online from PayScale and from a few other places of other administrative and management professionals.

I basically gathered up that data and took the average amount of what administrators and management people were getting, and went to him and said, ‘You know, this is kind of the range of what people are getting paid.’ I obviously had incorporated my experience level and also some of the different work I was doing.

I added in what a mid-level HR representative would be getting and I added in what an advanced level office manager or executive assistant would be getting, and just showed him all of those various things.

[Our President] really responds to numbers and to logic, and so knowing that about him helped me as well.

The last part of what Chelsey says there is key. She understood the language her boss spoke, and so she came prepared to talk to him in that language.

But Chelsey didn’t stop there. Next, she took things a step further by listing out (in exhausting detail) the many hats she wears and responsibilities she takes on:

chelseywagemakerquoteThe second part was I brought in my list of tasks and job responsibilities and I said,

“These are all the things that you task me with doing. These are all of the things that I do and I do them all well. And so when I’m asking for it, a raise of more than that, 10% or 12%, which is standard, this is why I’m asking for it.”

I didn’t get any pushback at all. [Our President] said,

“That looks great, that sounds great. We’ll go ahead and make that change for you.”

It was like if I can show you why I’m a valuable asset then hopefully, at least in my case, it was a lot easier.”

Another interesting insight Chelsey brought up during our conversation was how she uses her annual reviews to set the tone for the new responsibilities she is going to take on in the next 6-12 months.

chelseywagemakerquoteSo in my case last year I wanted to take on more HR responsibility, so that when it came time for my annual review I have my HR roles listed on that list of things that I had taken on. At the end of the review this year it was,

“Okay, so now we’ve added these things. What more do you want to do? What more do you want to explore?”

This is year it was a technology aspect and furthering my development in terms of I want to do more with Photoshop, and I want to do more with Adobe Creative Suite.

This also helps with the next review. It becomes “I deserve more money because I’ve learned even more this year.” That helps fuel the ease with which we have to ask for an increase in salary.

 

To finish our conversation, I asked Chelsey a series of rapid fire questions. Here are her answers:

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

chelseywagemakerquoteAs an Office Manager, I think the best way of doing things is to find that zen level where you can be personable and not get too stressed. Everybody around you is going to be stressed, and so you have to be that voice of calm and be able to say,

“Yup, I can handle it. Yup, I can take care of it.”

Take people’s problems from them and what they need to do, and you can take over and make sure things get done. A lot of it has to do with being able to set aside whatever else is going on in your brain and say, ‘I can handle what you need, when you need it.

It’s a certain personality type. Managers tend to be the type of people who like having that control, but we also like not necessarily being the one to execute. It’s that behind the scenes role.

It’s also helpful to build up that network of information. I have websites that I consistently go to for travel. I have different places that I can go to get questions answered. I think that’s valuable as well to build up that little network for yourself, to have your own tools to make things easier on you.

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

chelseywagemakerquoteI think as a new manager is starting out you’ve got to figure out where those priorities are and you’ve got to stick to them as well, and let your team know that those are your priorities.

I actually have a sheet at my desk listing my top 5 priorities. Then it’s just figuring out where people fall.

If they come to me and they say,

“I’ve got this project’, then I can reference the sheet and show what I’m doing today… This is my first priority. You’re going to be somewhere here. I’ll get to you either right this afternoon, end of day, end of week.”

That way they know what’s going on, so nobody’s stressing about things that haven’t been done.

A lot of it for me is just that communication with the team too, so while I’m trying to prioritize they need to know my priorities as well.

How do you minimize interruptions?

chelseywagemakerquoteI’m the office manager, but I’m also front desk reception, so my biggest interruption is usually a phone call. That’s one of the things that you just can’t get away from. The phone is going to ring, you’re going to have to stop whatever it is you’re doing and answer that phone for whoever it needs to go to.

My desk is covered in brightly colored post-it notes, and so if I need to stop what I’m doing I literally just grab a post-it, stick it where it needs to go and answer the phone. It’s an old school technique, but it keeps me on task and knowing where I stopped so that I can jump right back into it.

Those interruptions, they’re just part of a job. The biggest thing is not getting frustrated by them. You take down the information that you need, you get it done. If it’s urgent you get it done as soon as possible and you go back to those tasks at hand.

There’s always going to be work to do. You just take each thing as it comes and prioritize as you need to. The biggest thing too, I think, is just letting everyone get their information out, then you can work through it once they’re not standing in front of you.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

chelseywagemakerquoteTime management is challenging. Everybody has a rough day, everybody has 14 things that are all top priority at once, and so it still can be a hard juggle.

Right now what I’m doing is I’m helping to manage a construction project downstairs while doing travel for my team, which is 10 people. Things pile up. That time management piece, as great as my system is, it’s still not foolproof.

The only other thing that I’ve had on occasion at previous jobs is that co-worker who just isn’t very friendly and isn’t very easy to work with. I had a couple of people who were just that kind of demanding personality type that assumed that I was their personal assistant rather than everybody’s manager. That got a little challenging too.

You certainly don’t want to cause problems, but at the same time if the person who’s causing the issue for you looks down on you, or they don’t treat you as if you’re on the same level, you need to find someone who they do respect who might be able to have their ear and say,

“Hey. You know, you really should consider being a little more respectful, a little more grateful.”


Summary of Chelsey’s Top Tips:

  1. Use PayScale and other sites that display average salary ranges to see what others in your position are earning. Knowing your numbers will make your conversation with the boss a lot easier.
  2. Leave your review with a clear plan of the new areas you want to contribute and take on responsibility over the next 6-12 months. This will help you in next year’s negotiation because you can point to those things that were discussed and show how you accomplished them.
  3. Be transparent with your list of priorities. That will keep everyone informed of what you’re working on so nobody has to micromanage you.

Free download: Get a PDF version of The 2017 State of The Office Manager Report. We surveyed 402 Office Managers to uncover 10 takeaways you can use to hit your goals and overcome challenges in 2017.

 

 

kelly todd office manager modacto

Kelly Todd

Current Role: Senior Operations Sales Coordinator & Office Manager

# of Employees in Office: 15

Length of employment with current company: 2 years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 5 years

Reports to: 3 Principals/Owners of Modacto

 

Kelly started her career as an Executive Assistant for two bosses of a HGTV based television production company. She has felt fortunate to have only ever worked for small startup type companies that are privately owned.

Kelly has advanced quickly throughout her career, going the extra mile to show her employer that she is motivated and driven.

kelly-todd-quoteI did work above and beyond the Executive Assistant role, which is where I started, so I just moved up fast. Giving both of my jobs 100%, and showing my bosses that I’m not only going to work for them, but I’m going to stand out. That has helped me get there faster.

She has loved the wide range of experiences and skills acquired from being in this role.

kelly-todd-quoteI wear so many different hats, and it’s given me a really broad skillset that I can take with me into any other area that I go from here on out in my career.

So I think that being an Executive Assistant will give anyone a really good advantage to getting a broad set of skills, learning a whole bunch of different things about office operations and how a company culture works.

I also think there’s a lot of mastery that one can take when they’re in the position. You’re that go to person. You’re the face of the company. That’s a big responsibility that I definitely don’t take lightly and I’m sure other Office Managers don’t as well.

You’re kind of that first point of communication for outside potential new customers, for people that come visit your business, and you want to put your best foot forward because you’re the impression that the company makes.

So there’s a lot of responsibility that lies on the office manager that might be overlooked by other people because a lot of people think that office managers maybe don’t have that kind of responsibility, but we really do. And we’re really the key into the business and kind of the heart of it all.

Kelly has been very proactive in going outside of her “Office Manager duties” to pursue other avenues of business that spark her interest. This, in turn, has made her even more valuable to her company.

kelly-todd-quoteI have been getting involved in the marketing and the sales side of things. So when we had a Marketing Manager, I just piggybacked off a lot of the work she was doing, and helped her out with anything she needed help with, and that got me exposed to the marketing world.

By the time she left, they didn’t have to hire a new person to do the social media, or be in charge of the blog post creation. I just handled that because I had worked alongside of her and knew how to do it.

Getting involved in inside sales, customer management side of things with my boss of sales, taking over some of those marketing responsibilities, getting more involved in social media, blog post creation, marketing events… Those have all equipped me with even more skill sets to take me on to that next level, and just made the job more interesting because as soon as I master the office management, kind of office operations side for the role, I was ready for more.

I was ready to take on more duties and responsibilities. I didn’t want to sit there and just go to work and be the Office Manager.

For me, I want to put as many arrows in my quiver as I could in that position, take as much as I could, get as much experience, so that would just make me be that much more attractive as an employee.

Going outside of her role to gain more skills has been the key to Kelly’s growth professionally. She believes it’s the main reason why she has been promoted and paid more.

kelly-todd-quoteAs soon as I had the basics of my position mastered, I was hungry for more. And my bosses saw that and they saw that I was capable. You have to not only master the job, but you have to show them that you’re above and beyond the job because they’re not going to give you more responsibility if they don’t trust you with the small responsibilities.

If an Office Manager is showing that he or she wants to get to that next level, they want more responsibility and they want to carve out a path to get there, then more than likely [the company] is going to help you get to that point.

So if you want it, don’t just sit there and wish for it. Do something about it.

If it’s marketing, if it’s sales, and maybe if it isn’t even something that you necessarily have interest in, try it out. You never know, and I think it’s just going to give you more leverage and opportunity.

 

Here are some other nuggets of wisdom Kelley offered during our conversation:

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

kelly-todd-quoteI’m very much a planner. I kind of just budget my time.

Everything seems insurmountable when you have a list of 20 things to do, but just take that list and divide it in your week.

At the beginning of the week, I always look at the big overview of what I have to do, and yes, sometimes that can be scary. You have a million things to do and there are only five days in the week, but if you budget your time, you realistically sit down and take fifteen minutes to plan out your week, it’s going to help you so much more.

Not only are you going to be able to prioritize what needs to get done earlier in the week versus what can wait until later, you’re going to de-stress yourself. Doing this also makes me look impressive to the bosses.

Give yourself calendar reminders about those things, sticky notes, whatever. Whatever you need to do to break it up and make the week less hectic is the biggest time management tip I can give.

Do you have a rule of thumb for prioritizing your to-do list?

kelly-todd-quoteAnything that needs to go to the bosses or is time sensitive would obviously get pushed to the top. But those little things that you can get done in five minutes, just get that stuff done. Take care of it.

Don’t push it off. Don’t be like ‘okay that will only take five minutes’ because then you’re going to get toward the end of the week and have ten more things, and those little five minute things are going to seem even more annoying, and be even more time consuming and just bog you down in the long run.

So my advice is to definitely take care of the low hanging fruit. Take care of things that are time sensitive to the bosses, and then just kind of prioritize it the best way you see fit, or the way you see working in your calendar and schedule.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

kelly-todd-quoteMaking everybody happy.

As an Office Manager, bringing that positive attitude every day helps, but you’re never going to make everybody satisfied. People are always going to be complaining. People are always going to be wanting more.

As the Office Manager, unfortunately, we take the brunt of that a lot of the time. But there are ways to cope with that. That positive attitude will help you go far, and make that less miserable.

Usually Office Managers are responsible for all the stuff with all the other employees, like making sure people like the lunch selection, or the venue of the holiday party, etc.

You’re never going to make everybody satisfied, so the sooner you realize that and move past it, you’re going to be happier and more successful in your role.

As a sensitive person myself, that’s definitely the hardest part. You can’t make everybody happy, and people kind of look to you to make them happy, and people will take it out on you if they’re not happy with something…

“Oh I don’t like this snack in the break room. I don’t like this new rule.”

So, you’re going to be the sounding board for a lot of negative energy, but don’t take it personally.

How have you learned to deal with demanding executives?

kelly-todd-quotePaying attention to the details is really going to take you far because these execs demand perfection, and as nice as they can be, they want things to do be done right, and your job as an Office Manager is to make their lives easier.

So if you keep that in mind, you’re going to go far in this role because it’s all about the details and it’s all about managing their calendars precisely and getting things done ahead of them.

If you can stay one step ahead of the boss, like,

“I took care of taking this reservation for you because I see on the calendar that you’re blocked.”

That anticipation and that kind of preparedness over and above them is going to really make you stand out to them and make you the asset than an Office Manager needs to be.

The Office Manager can be the Exec’s best friend, and if they’re thinking one step ahead of them, you’re going to stand out.

Summary of Kelly’s Top Tips:

  1. Getting involved in many departments (sales, marketing, customer service, etc.) will help you create more leverage and opportunity for yourself.
  2. Take time at the beginning of the week to plan the rest of your week. You have a million things to do and there are only five days in the week, but if you budget your time, it’s going to make a big difference.
  3. If you can stay one step ahead of your boss and anticipate their needs, that’s really going to make you stand out in their eyes.

 

 

megan-macfadgen

Megan

Current Role: Senior Administrative Assistant

# of Employees in Office: 50 in office, thousands employed by the company

Length of employment with current company: 5 years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 15 years

Reports to: Financial Director

 

I was really excited to talk with Megan, given her many years of experience doing admin work.

She started her career doing office work for a non-profit organization that advocated for human rights for adults with disabilities. Megan was doing office work there, but was then unfortunately involved in a car accident, leaving her unable to continue working on a full-time basis for months. Luckily, she was able to recover and went back in the office full-time.

After that, she started working for a Fortune 50 company as an Administrative Assistant.

Years later, life took her to a life insurance company. She started working in the Applications Department where she would enter applications for life insurance for people on behalf of the company’s agents.

Now she’s been with her current company for 5 years and counting.

She told me that she was promoted last year and I was eager to learn more.

When I asked her how she was able to negotiate a raise, she delved into the details:

megan-macfadgen-quoteI think that was just because I know what I’m worth and I know what other people are paying out there. It was a matter of you pay up or I leave.

First I went to the placement agency that helped me get this particular job. Then I would research on Indeed.com on their salaries for the local New York area. I also went to Payscale.com.

I started because I got connected on LinkedIn. I started receiving a lot of job offers for jobs that paid a lot more. I just brought it up to them. I showed them what people are offering me.

I said, “This is a real thing. Let’s talk about it because unless you want it to be somewhere I’m not being appreciated.”

How did management respond?

megan-macfadgen-quoteI would say that my direct supervisor was very supportive being a women herself. I find it very difficult dealing with the guys.

In the industry that we’re in right now that I’m working in is dominated by men. They just don’t care. They don’t want to hear it. In their opinion they figure they’ll just find somebody else and pay them less.

I asked Megan about additional best practices that she uses to prepare for her yearly reviews:

megan-macfadgen-quote“Write down all your accomplishments that you’ve done and present them in a simple manner and clear to whoever it is that you need to make your argument to.”

 

With her wide breadth of experience, Megan had some great tips and takeaways (including a free downloadable template) for our lightning round:

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

megan-macfadgen-quoteHaving an understanding and an empathy for human feelings and understanding that the people that I’m supporting have a tough job. They’re under a lot of stress and I don’t take things personally.

I don’t get snappy and stuff like that. I don’t even notice it.

I’m just able to understand that it’s nothing personal, it’s just “I’m busy right now. I can’t talk right now. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got six thousand other things.”

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

megan-macfadgen-quoteI have something that I keep on a network that I update.

Whenever somebody sends me an email asking me for something to be done, I’ll put it on that list. I have it set up as the tasks I have.

At the top I have tasks that are on hold. I have recurring tasks, what the status of them are, what the task is, what the status of them are, when the due dates are, who’s responsible, who it needs to be submitted to, and then I have tasks that are in process. Everything is all dated. That’s about it. I just keep updating it and then I have completed. I do that every week.

Every week I make a new sheet so I can go back through old ones.

It’s just a matter of being diligent and updating it. What I also do is I’ll print out the email request with an email and I’ll keep that pile of paper of things to do. Then I’ll compare it to my list to make sure it’s on there and it’s done.

Megan was generous enough to share a template of the Excel Spreadsheet she uses so that we could share it with you. You can download that template here.

 

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

megan-macfadgen-quoteI think the most difficult thing is getting people to get along with each other. Everyone comes to me for everything. I’m like mom.

“I have an issue with this person, what do you think? Why do you think this is?”

I’m like the church pastor.

But I figure if everyone else is happy and content, then everybody else can work together better as a team. We don’t have that conflict.

Right now I support the main breadwinner in our office. I’ve been told I’m the only one that can keep him calm and happy. If he’s happy, everybody else is happy. That makes everybody else’s job easier.

Summary of Megan’s Top Tips:

  1. Keep a detailed list of all you do and are responsible for. Presenting those clearly will help you validate your worth.
  2. Use Indeed, Payscale, and LinkedIn to help guide you in salary negotiations. Knowing what others in your role are making can give you leverage to ask for what’s fair.
  3. Use a copy of Megan’s template to better manage your tasks.

Free download: Get a PDF version of The 2017 State of The Office Manager Report. We surveyed 402 Office Managers to uncover 10 takeaways you can use to hit your goals and overcome challenges in 2017.

Mika

Current Role: Office Manager & Events Coordinator

# of Employees in Office: 75

Length of employment with current company: 3.5 years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 3.5 years

Reports to: CEO/Co-Founder

 

Mika had been putting in the work.

She was doing very well in her role and taking on new responsibilities. With her end of year review approaching, she felt like she deserved an increase in pay.

As many people can relate to (especially in larger company sizes), Mika’s company only conducts financial reviews once per year.

So heading into her annual review, Mika wanted to highlight all the new initiatives she had been proactive about:

04f9d83-quoteWhat I want to highlight is changes. For my most recent review, I’ve been more involved and more dedicated to the events part of my role, so I was really trying to highlight all the things that I do as an events person.

Even though I do report directly to the CEO, I do a lot of things on my own. I’m very independent in terms of my roles, so there are a lot of things that I have to tell him what I’m doing.

It was really showing all the Office Manager stuff that I do, but also showing that I’m looking to focus more on the events part of my job. This is all of the events stuff that I do and hopefully they can see it’s a lot more and it does warrant being focused on.”

I asked Mika if she had some additional best practices that she uses to prepare for her yearly reviews.

Here’s what she said:

04f9d83-quoteKeep track of everything you’re doing, even if it’s really small, because, especially in an Office Manager position, those small details that people don’t feel like is a lot of work, really add up.

When you list out all the things that you do every day or every week, then you really get a long list. Sometimes I think seeing those bullet point items is really what helps.

Also, talking about initiatives that you want to take on or programs that you either are trying to do or would want to be able to do if you had more support in that area. So making your boss aware that you have these ideas or you have been working on these ideas and you’re trying to grow towards them.

I feel like that shows a drive, even though you’ve already got this bullet point list of 20,000 other things. You’re showing them 10 other things that could be so amazing that you’re trying to do.

And lastly, being organized and being on top of everything. Never have a reason for them to say,

“This one time, this one thing happened.”

Cover up any stressed-out moments. Learn to make them look perfect.

 

On to the rapid fire round:

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

04f9d83-quoteBeing organized and goal-oriented. I think there’s nothing I hate more than a pointless meeting or a meeting that is much longer than it needs to be. I like to think that I run my meetings very effectively.

Running events in general, it’s just very clear that these are deadlines, these are the things that I need, these are who I need to do them, and these are when they need to be done by. There’s no negotiation.

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

04f9d83-quoteFor big tasks, I’ll do my own version of a bullet journal. I have a page for the week and I put each item on that list. So multiple times throughout the day, I’ll look at that list and go,

“Okay, what can I do right now?”

Then little things pop up in the moment, as most Office Manager-type items tend to do.

Depending on what they are, I’ll either do them right then or the Executive Assistants help me out in that area, so things like ordering snacks or drinks or supplies, that’s usually something I can toss their way if I need to.

How do you minimize interruptions?

04f9d83-quoteWe’re a very open office layout, and I’m the prime, when you walk into the office you see me.

Minimizing interruptions has been a little difficult, but the only way I can make them better is if someone comes up to me and asks me for something, I just have to tell them,

“You have to message this to me or email to me, because I’m not going to remember this.”

It gets them away from me right away, and then it’s something that I know, if they send it through like they’re supposed to, then I’ll have it to get to later.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

04f9d83-quoteBalancing everything, especially because again, the Office Management things don’t really have a schedule. It’s something that could just come up right now and be needed to be taken care of right away, even though I’m in the middle of something that I’ve been working on for who knows how long.

So it’s just the surprises, and not having someone specific that I can rely on to hand them off to. I don’t always have someone where it’s like,

“Oh, so-and-so can definitely take care of this.”

Sometimes something comes up and either I can give it to the Executive Assistants or I can’t. Hopefully I can.

My solution has been to keep really good lists and writing everything down. Me personally, I find that I’m very analog, so I need to keep physical lists or physical notes. It’s just a lot better for me personally.

Summary of Mika’s Top Tips:

  1. Keep track of everything you’re doing, even the “small stuff”. Those small details that people don’t feel like is a lot of work add up.
  2. Highlight your growth and the things you’ve taken on since your last review. Added responsibility and proactiveness = better pay.
  3. Interruptions are inevitable. If someone comes up to you and asks me for something, try telling them to message or email it to you so you can add it to your to-do list later.

 

selena blanco office manager

Selena Blanco

Current Role: Director of Happiness

# of Employees in Office: 50

Length of employment with current company: 7 months

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 2.5 years

Reports to: Brand Manager, CEO and COO

 

Selena has an inspiring story in that she was promoted within 3 months of starting at Emazing Group.

I asked how she was able to do that, and this is what she said:

selena-blanco-quoteAt first, I was just handling everyday tasks like making coffee, running errands, picking up a little bit of slack, stuff like that. Now I’m helping out HR, so I help with hiring and paperwork, and I also do some marketing for the iHeartRaves team for social media.

So I have built on a lot more roles, which is getting me a lot more experience in order to grow in this company as well.

I had no HR experience whatsoever, so I really feel that I can take on more tasks, and I’m a fast learner. I really want to be here at this company, and I want to grow here. I’m very positive every day, I leave everything at the door, which I think [the company] saw in me.

It’s really nice that they trust me to handle different situations.

This has been a consistent theme with everyone I spoke with. If you can find ways to expand your role and touch more departments, people take notice and good things start to happen.

selena-blanco-quoteThere’s only one HR person, so instead of hiring on a new one, they just asked if I wanted to go and take on that role, as well.

When asked about advice she would give an Office Manager colleague who is looking for a promotion or ask for a raise, Selena offered some great takeaways:

selena-blanco-quoteCommunication. You need to be honest with them and open. I always say, ‘Closed mouths don’t get fed,’ so if you want a raise, if you think you deserve something, then you need to bring it up.

Your boss probably isn’t up at night thinking about which employees need to be paid more, so it’s usually up to you to be proactive.

 

Here are Selena’s responses to the lightning round questions at the end of our chat:

How do you minimize interruptions?

selena-blanco-quoteWe use a tool here called Basecamp. If people need something desperately, they add to my tasks so people don’t have to swing by my desk and interrupt me.

They put it in my to-do’s, they give me a date for the to-do and they give me what needs to be done. If I have any questions, I will go to them.

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

I write lists – lists are my best friend. I prioritize on what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how long I think it’ll take. That way, I know I can plan out and make sure it’s not late or I’m not overdue on anything.

I do use my calendar a lot as well. I have alarms to make sure I’m completing things on time and I don’t forget to do them. That’s just how I work.

Do you have a rule of thumb for prioritizing your to-do list?

selena-blanco-quoteWhen I get something from a coworker that says this needs to be done today, I ask them, “Are you sure it must be done today?” If it does, I will get it done. I have little things that obviously can be pushed down, so I do prioritize things that are bigger or more important. I put those at the top of my list, and then I just work down from there.

But sometimes, they think about it and say,

“Well, I would like it to be done today, but, you know, tomorrow’s fine.”

That helps me sort through what’s most important and urgent.

Author’s Note: This simple question that Selena uses is gold. Notice how she puts it back on the person to really think about how urgent the task is. And it usually leads to giving Selena more time to complete the project/task. Brilliant.

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

selena-blanco-quoteJust staying positive. Especially having to deal with multiple people, because everyone wants different things.

Everybody expects something different from you. You’ve just got to be positive and make sure you’re asking questions. I think that’s what gets me through the whole day.

How do you deal with so many people in the office at once?

selena-blanco-quoteIf I’m feeling overwhelmed or anything, I usually take a walk outside for a little bit. People don’t mean to be negative or anything, that’s just how they are.

I just don’t let anything get to me. It’s just … go outside, take a walk, and I come back inside and then just get done what needs to get done.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

selena-blanco-quoteEverybody has different personalities.

When you’re talking with someone or you’re working with someone, you need to adapt to their personality and how they act. I’m trying to get the hang of that. Just because I’ve never worked with so many people before.

At the end of the day, this is a workplace and things need to be done. I’ve learned to take criticism and not let it get to me. It’s a business and they want to make sure things are getting done correctly, and that mistakes aren’t being made, and if they are, that they’re being corrected.

Summary of Selena’s Top Tips:

  1. Closed mouths don’t get fed. Be open and honest about what your goals are and what you want. If you want a raise, if you think you deserve something, then you need to bring it up.
  2. The next time you’re approached with an “urgent” task, try asking that person the question “Are you sure it must be done today?” You might be able to add some time to your deadline.
  3. Stay positive and don’t take things personally. Go for a walk if you need to cool down. Multiple people depend on you so keeping a good attitude will help you in the long run.

Free download: Get a PDF version of The 2017 State of The Office Manager Report. We surveyed 402 Office Managers to uncover 10 takeaways you can use to hit your goals and overcome challenges in 2017.

Emil Shour is the Content Manager at SnackNation. His goal? To help companies create better places to work by improving health, inspiring teams to improve together, and making the office a fun and productive environment.