How to create a guide for the incoming office manager

How to create a guide for the incoming office manager

The job of an Office Manager isn’t one-dimensional. There are days when you’re answering phones, and others when you’re managing interns, or completing accounts payable duties. When creating a guide for the next person in your role, you’ll need to account for all of your tasks. This tutorial will cover the steps needed to leave a lasting mark on your company by creating a detailed guide to becoming a successful Office Manager for your successor.

  1. Start early

    Do you plan to leave your job within the next three months? If you haven’t begun already, now’s the time to start working on your guide to becoming a successful Office Manager. Even if you’re not planning to leave soon, it’s good to begin thinking through what you’d want to include in your guide. Most Office Managers can do this from their first day of work. Think about it. What didn’t you know on your first day that would have helped you complete a certain task?

  2. Write your frivolous tasks

    Do you walk around the office to turn on the lights before everyone arrives? Do you make two pots of coffee, one regular and one decaf? Do you shut the blinds in the conference room before heading out in the evening? Office Manager’s frivolous tasks are the things the staff appreciates the most, yet they become so innate over time that it’s easy to forget you’re doing them. Writing a list of your simple daily tasks helps you remember the things you do that everyone else loves.

  3. Write your important tasks

    Do you process incoming checks? Do you manage your phone extensions and voicemail setup? Do you manage the online store, or create purchase orders for store items? Do you coordinate the intern program, or assist your COO in some other office tasks that others aren’t aware of? These tasks, which often require thought, planning, and skill, are the meat of your job. The incoming Office Manager will be expected to complete these tasks as an inexperienced worker at the same level of skill that you had when you left the position.

  4. Document your one-off tasks

    Every now and again, you’ve completed tasks that weren’t part of your original job duties. Document these tasks and evaluate, by level of importance, whether they should be included in the guide. You might even want to make a special section for these, just so your replacement has a heads-up in case they occur again.

  5. Begin creating the guide

    Now that you’ve gathered all of your information, you’ll need to create the guide. The guide should live in one place, preferably on your job’s network drive where it’s accessible to your supervisor. The guide should be one document, preferably a PowerPoint saved in PDF form that includes links to any necessary online references, as well as images and screenshots of the software the incoming Office Manager will be using.

The following items should be included:

    • Your ‘normal’ day. This is a quick view of the tasks you normally complete in the morning, afternoon, and evening hours.
    • The learning list. This is a list of the tasks, broken down by section, that the new Office Manager will need to know.
    • Individual instruction pages. On each instruction page, you should include pertinent information to completing the task, including login information, contact emails, and links. These pages should be colorful and include step-by-step guides explaining how to complete the task. Remember, just because a task has become natural to you doesn’t mean the incoming Office Manager will be as intuitive.
    • A miscellaneous page. The Miscellaneous page provides information that’s important, but that doesn’t warrant its own instructional page. For example, do you sometimes order pizza for the office when it’s rainy out? The miscellaneous page would be a good place to mention the office’s favorite pizza place, and that two staff members are gluten-free and will require side salads.
    • A note from you. The incoming Office Manager may be nervous. They also may want to know more about the office culture, but might be afraid to ask. In your note to your successor, candidly welcome them to the office, preparing them for the ups and downs they may face.

Have your supervisor review the guide

  • Although you’re the best person to document your daily tasks, it’s easy to have forgotten something important. A quick review by your supervisor will point out any missed instructions, or will highlight things that should take precedence during the incoming Office Manager’s tenure.

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