Back to blogs

5 Challenges for Operations Managers

Img 2625

5 Challenges for Operations Managers

Most fee earners don't understand what we do, and many fail to recognise the sheer magnitude of the role, and actually, if you are doing your job correctly, that's almost how it should be. We are the ducks sitting on the pond, furiously paddling beneath the water, whilst maintaining a demeanour of complete composure and control on the surface.

We make sure the sales staff have everything and I mean everything, they could possibly need to do what they do best; sell. We anticipate needs before they even know they have them and that is perhaps why some people don’t understand what value we add to the business, but you sure as hell notice when your Ops Manager isn’t there!

I am in a fortunate position, I built my career in a fee-earning position before moving over into Operations, meaning I could come into the role with a whole of list of things that I knew would make a recruiter’s life easier. But it doesn't mean you get over the fact that people think you ‘simply’ manage the office. Whilst you may not be writing fees up on the board, if you are not spinning all of the Operations plates, you can quickly find the recruitment wheel screeching to a halt.

Key challenges you’ll face as an Operations Manager:

Breadth of Responsibility.

Operations managers usually oversee all of the major administrative departments, such as HR, Finance, Marketing and Communication, IT and Logistics as well as being the first port of call for troubleshooting and project management. The pure breadth of the role can often seem overwhelming.

For smaller recruitment companies this will often be the first investment into a non-fee earning employee, so it’s not a role for the faint-hearted. It’s important to have skills and knowledge across a wide variety of topics to allow the business to grow, and with it, develop a strong back-office team to support the Operations department.

Implementing Best Practice.

Recruiters generally hate admin; the majority hate anything that isn’t visibly contributing to their success. But as an Ops Manager, you have to ensure compliance requirements are met and need a lot of information and data to be able to run business operations as effectively as possible.

The challenge is to ensure the relevant data is being recorded whilst reducing downtime to a minimum. The key is to ensure you are effectively educating your consultants on why these processes are important and demonstrating how adopting best practice will ultimately contribute to any recruiters success.

Finding that fine balance between being organised but highly adaptable.

There are a lot of balls to be juggled in Operations and people who want to organise their lives down to every minute and stick to a schedule will quickly find themselves tearing out their hair in the recruitment industry.

Things change, priorities change, you have to be prepared to respond to the ever changing environment within recruitment. It’s easy to get bogged down with the escalating list of demands from colleagues, naturally, everyone wants their request to be the highest priority but the real key is managing expectations and prioritising your own workload effectively.

Having an unwavering commitment to implementation.

Too many businesses can sit around brain-storming, coming up with revolutionary ideas, but fail to follow through and make something tangible out of those ideas. What they are often missing is the Operations Manager who will drive through change.

Recruiters can be highly creative, but they are also creatures of habit. One of the toughest things for an Operations Manager is not only getting engagement for change but driving that change forward and making sure the business commits so it can reap the benefits. But again, we are unnervingly adaptable, we don’t take it personally if a process or incentive doesn’t work, sometimes it doesn't and that’s OK! It’s about learning from the mistakes and understanding exactly how your business works, that will allow you to come up with the next great strategy.

Constant innovation

Operations Managers are constantly thriving to streamline the efficiency of their businesses. We are the truffle hunters; continually looking for innovative ways to increase productivity whilst reducing costs. Whether this is implementing new policies and procedures, rolling out new IT products and systems or simply finding new and inventive ways to motivate your consultants, the ability to take on every challenge with creativity and a fresh pair of eyes is essential.

All in all, whilst being an Operations Manager can be tough, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs to have. In an industry like recruitment, where the back-office is often neglected, there is nothing more satisfying than making a genuine contribution to the growth of a business that you love and see the team around you reap the benefits of that success. As my MD, Sachin Ruparelia, often says, ‘You are the glue that holds Camino together’ and what could be more gratifying than that!


If I’ve inspired you to consider a career in Operations, get in touch to see what opportunities we have!

If you like this, you might also like:

How to become a COO 

How to prepare for an Operations interview