To Be Successful in Operations…

When one thinks of operations, the first thing that may come to mind is organization. Since operations touches all areas of a business, keeping everything organized is of great importance. However, it’s not enough to be an organized person. To be successful in operations…

Be flexible

Since so much of operations is circumstantial, being flexible is a must. This doesn’t mean you won’t have regular tasks or projects to complete, but it does mean you’re on deck when the unexpected happens. Taking these things in stride and with a smile not only means that you can focus on creating solutions, but it creates a calm work environment where coworkers don’t have to worry because they know everything is under control.

Anticipate

It’s been quoted so much it borders on cliche, but Wayne Gretzky was on to something when he said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” An effective operations manager is not only flexible when the unexpected arises, but anticipates what might happen next to minimize the unexpected. This requires having a finger on the pulse of the entire company and not getting bogged down in the details of any one thing to the exclusion of all else.

Hone good people skills

Given that operations is not a “front-facing” role like marketing or sales, this may seem counter-intuitive. And while someone in operations might not work with customers as much as other teams, maintaining good relationships with coworkers is essential. The operations manager may be called upon to speak into projects as an impartial third party. They may handle HR, including inter-company problems. Being someone who is respected within the company and can bring people together will go a long way toward making any operations manager a success.

Project management

There are a myriad of projects that may arise that have nothing specifically to do with R&D, marketing, or sales. This could include anything from implementing a new piece of software to moving the company to a new office. It’s one thing to work with another team, such as marketing, to develop a system for their projects; it’s another to manage your own. Establishing goals, timelines, budgets, and assembling the right team of people for any task is critical for any operations manager or team.


The specific skills needed for success in operations will vary as much as the role itself. Still, being flexible, learning to anticipate, working well with people, and managing projects will make anyone in operations an asset to their team.