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Office Administrator vs Office Manager: Understanding the Roles

It’s a common misconception to think that the title Office Administrator and Office Manager are synonymous.

For instance,  Andrew, who has been learning the trade of Office Management by working for an advertising firm for the last one year. One day, he noticed a recruitment ad for an Office administrator’s role at a tech firm.

He wondered if there is any difference between Office Administrator vs Office Manager.  But he figured it sounds the same, so the job responsibilities cannot be too different. And now that he has some experience under his belt, he might as well apply and try out for the position.

So, he applies for the position and gets a call for a face to face interview. On the interview day, he does everything great, although some questions seemed strange to him. 

He wasn’t quite confident answering those, but he had his fingers crossed.

Later, the interview board let him know he may not be the perfect fit for the position.

He was disappointed and inquired politely,“May I ask, what can I do better?”

They simply replied, “Mr Andrew, you did great! But we are looking for someone with experience in Office Administration. If you want to get into an administrative role you might want to get some relevant experience. Or you are welcome to apply when an Office managers position is open”.

But, aren't there some common responsibilities between an Office Administrator and Office Manager?

Although there is some commonality between the two roles but there are some key differences between an office administrator vs office manager.

In fact, the daily job responsibilities can vary by the type of organisation. Even often requiring different skill sets and qualifications to excel in each respective role.

If you are interested in either of these fast-paced rewarding careers, you should understand the difference between them. And at the same time the similarities in the roles. In this article, I will discuss the key aspects of Office Administration vs Office Management and the traits required to be in those roles so you can choose or prepare for the best fit for you.

What’s an Office Manager?

An Office Manager is a people-focused job, it involves a variety of responsibilities that involve tending employees needs and comfort in managing their productivity. An office manager acts as the bridge between the upper management and the rest of the employees. He or she is the tool to develop and implement policies and initiatives for the ultimate benefit of the organisation. 

Successful office managers support, inspire and motivate the office team to bring the best out of their combined effort like a leader.

Then who is an Office Administrator?

An office administrator focuses on the technical aspect of running the office to ensure that everything is right where they are supposed to be for maximum productivity. This job title is engaged in different processes in the office. An office administrator is the problem solver in different logistical issues in day to day office activities. 

A successful office administrator has to master the art of juggling because of the nature of this position. They are the connection between different departments. From maintaining technical logistics to the overall workflow, they have to play an active and responsible role for every possible event.

 

Job responsibilities in an Office Manager’s day

  • Processing and scheduling payroll 
  • Assisting with recruitment and onboarding process
  • Organising and carrying out orientation and training of new employees
  • Supervising existing employees
  • Preparing office budget, bookkeeping and managing the resources
  • Planning, organising, coordinating meetings and events 
  • Writing and reviewing reports and contracts
  • Handling invoices, payslip and reimbursement claims
  • Assisting and guiding clients or guests in the office
  • Inventory management
  • Aiding the office's administrative staff to run the office processes smoothly
  • Essentially, ensuring a productive and happy office environment 
  • Reporting to senior management on office efficiency.
Office Administrator vs Office Manager

An Office Administrator’s daily responsibilities

  • Maintaining office calendars for events and meeting schedules
  • Handling day to day office expenses
  • Processing invoices and reimbursement requests
  • Handling logistics for travelling employees
  • Responding to emails and phone calls
  • Organising office space, sitting arrangements and furniture placements
  • Managing office supplies, services, and IT resources, such as computers, copiers and internet facilities
  • Organizing files, invoices, purchase orders and receipts
  • Booking travel arrangements for executives and business clients
  • Ensuring the office remains clean and organised 
  • Maintaining liaison with office vendors and maintenance agencies 
  • Researching and evaluating potential office purchases 
  • Writing reports, office notice and preparing presentations.
  • Notifying and explaining employees when new services or procedures are installed in the office

Qualifications of Office Administrator vs Office Manager

Although a high school degree with some relevant administrative experience is often sufficient for an office administrator’s role, a bachelor’s degree in business management will fare you well for both positions. Especially important if you want to move up to a higher tier leadership position. 

Many organisations require their office administrator’s to be at least 1-2 years experienced in handling administrative duties. As for the office manager, you would require to be more experienced with managerial responsibility preferably at a leadership role. Usually, the employers ask for 2-4 years of experience for an office manager role, however, the experience and qualifications requirement varies with their organisational setup and necessities.

Both the roles also require computing ability to varying extents, such as the Microsoft Office suite, inventory management software and scheduling tools. The office manager’s role would require more through expertise due to the job nature. Additional training in administrative and management skills will be given preference in any modern business settings and will help you edge out other competitors in the job market.

Skills required of an Office Manager

An office manager should possess a mix of intellectual and practical skills. If you want to be an Office Manager, you should have them or hone the following skill sets:

1. Leadership skills

Leadership skills are not about your ability to intimidate your co-workers, it is more about respecting their role and inspiring them to bring the best out of their effort. You also have to make decisions from time to time on a variety of subjects and actions, for the benefit of the organisations.

As an office manager, you must have the traits of a good leader. An office manager’s position is created to maintain productivity and efficiency in the office and to do that, you have to lead by example to add weight to your given title and earn respect.

2. Analytical skills

An efficient office manager should possess sharp analytical skills to assess office performance metrics. You will have to do a regular analysis of the efficiency of existing practices and research for continuous improvement.

3. Budget and resource management skills

Budgeting and managing resources are part of an office manager’s job description and you would have to be able to follow through this task efficiently. Managing office resources can be a tricky business to keep track of, but often employers insist that office managers’ budgeting skills save the organisation a few bucks and headaches.

4. Empathy or emotional intelligence

Managers with high emotional intelligence are good leaders, as they can pick up the co-workers’ emotion quickly and act accordingly. Empathy is basically putting yourself in another person’s shoes and experiencing his perspective on a subject. This way you will know exactly what to do to guide a person, or how to solve an issue.

5. Conflict resolution and problem-solving skill

When a group of people work under a roof, there is bound to be some conflicts and problems. It is more true for any business establishments, where competitiveness plays a role in our drive and relationships. As an office manager, you have to deal with such situations delicately yet in a confronting manner. 

 

There would be a variety of problems within the office confinement that you will have to solve on a daily basis professionally. You have to be proactive and time conscious in your efforts. 

Skills required of an Office Administrator

An Office Administrator’s essential skill sets are very practical and detail-oriented. And to excel in this role, you have to master some essential soft skills as well.

1. Inventory and resource management

From what’s where to where a particular resource should be, everything is under your jurisdiction. How efficiently you manage and keep track of the office inventories and resources is going to mark a large part of your job success. 

You are responsible for ensuring every employee has their needs met in terms of the sitting arrangement, stationary or any other work-related tools.

2. Computer and technology skills

As an office administrator at a modern business setting, you must have adequate ICT knowledge and computing skills. A large part of your work will be digitally processed and organised.

3. Multitasking

An office administration job is like the day job of a Ninja! You have to multitask without losing focus on any of the tasks and complete them under a certain deadline. This skill is heavily dependent on your capability of paying attention to the details and critical thinking. As an office ninja, you are expected to solve multiple problems or run multiple processes without a hiccup.

In addition to all these skills, an office administrator should also have strong attention to details and have adequate financial management skill.

Common skills of Office Manager and Office Administrators

There are some common set of skills which both the office administrators and office managers should possess. In fact, these skills are what makes a professional set apart from others in any trade.

Organisational skills

Organisational skills are a combination of soft skills and hard skills. They are conscious little hacks in what you do and how you do it. Organisational skills are essential in every walk of professions and Office manager and administrators are no different. To prosper in your role and to move forward in your career, you must have to acquire these skills.

Communication skills

How well you communicate with other office employees will signify how efficient you are with your job. Both the role acts as a link between departments and management, which is why it’s only more crucial to hone these skills. Being able to listen, provide feedback, understanding office etiquettes and following them is expected from a professional in any business setting.

Teamwork skills

Office manager or office administrator,  whichever role you choose to be, you will have to work in coherence with other office employees. Working with every department with a different set of roles assigned can be a tricky job. Being able to work as a team is going to reflect on productivity and efficiency. You have to be open-minded and respectful of each person and lead them to move forward by example.

Time management

As a multitasker, you have to be a pro in time management. It’s not just about clocking in and clocking out or meeting the deadline. It’s more about how expeditiously you are utilising your time. Since other employees are engaged in your activity, it is only more important to manage this resource better.

Apart from these skills, an office administration or office management role also requires you to be empathetic, flexible, able to take initiatives independently and basically be a people person. All these skills cannot be gained overnight, they have to develop with conscious efforts and practices. 

To Conclude

Office Administrator vs Office Manager

A fast-paced environment with responsibility of making sure the office runs smoothly with maintaining the highest productivity, it can be a challenge, but with the right skills and dedication, you might find a career as an office administrator or an office manager to be very rewarding. 

Success in those roles will push you up for higher management and leadership roles over time. And understanding the difference between an office manager vs office administrator should help you take the right initiative for the right career progression.

October 20, 2020

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