Operations Managers - Do they actually do anything?
Operations? What even is that, right? Do operations managers actually do that much?
Well, can a building survive without a foundation? No. Sure, it may stand up for a little bit, but you’ll never have anything more than a mud hut and why have a mud hut when you can have a palace?!
I have been speaking to the recruitment industry’s leading operations professionals to discuss the value they bring to their businesses.
Operations managers are the right-hand to the director/s, in fact, they are the hands-on directors of a successful recruitment business. They’re the Ned Stark to your Robert Baratheon. Whilst Directors focus on sexy things like hunting, wine and wars (aka sales, clients and opening up new business), they focus on running Kings Landing (aka steering the ship, numbers, KPIs and the day-to-day running). Like Ned and Robert, directors and operations managers both have different skill sets, but they complement each other, and you know that they’ll be by the director’s side in battle (aka recruitment).
“Operations managers make the director's ideas become a reality. Need to implement a new BD strategy? Operations manager. Need to save money on suppliers? Operations manager. Need to improve retention rates throughout the business? Operations manager. I know that by taking ideas from the boardroom and making them a reality, the business can continue to move in a progressive manner (whilst also allowing the directors to focus on high-level tasks) and I am the heart of that.” - Natasha South, Operations Manager @ Camino Partners.
“You are generally second in command… and let’s face it, directors are usually way too busy and sometimes not available in the office, so the general running of the company tends to go down on to the shoulders of your operations manager.” - Nirujan Krishna, Operations Manager @ Bluecross Locums.
“Any director would need a good operations manager to focus on what they can’t, on a day to day basis, whilst they concentrate on the sales team and level of turnover.” - Sarah Jane Balch, Operations Manager @ Blu Digital Recruitment.
Directors can get pulled in all different directions and often can be side-tracked from the day to day running of the business. An operations manager plays an integral part in supporting them in this. They do the hands-on stuff that brings directors’ dreams to reality and in many cases are even the dreamers, as operations managers are in a great position to spot the gaps others can easily miss.
Biggest billing non-fee earners’
One of the many things an operations manager does is help both the business and each individual fee earners realise their potential. They are the ones who implement the infrastructure to ensure a smooth process is in place. This can anything from implementing the GDPR policy (I know, I know, we are all fed up of those 4 letters) through to on-boarding new starters to make sure they’re set up for success.
“I need to know how the sales team work and what’s going to benefit them the most in order to give them solutions that make them work more efficiently… I’m always thinking of the next project, the next integration and how the puzzle fits together”. - Alana Duncan, Operations Manager @ ProClinical.
“Success is more than generating leads or winning and delivering work, it’s enabling the team to achieve more, better, faster with a smile and a sense of purpose.” - Jennifer Simons, Head of Operations @ Renovata Partners.
Besides, they are the ones who save the business money, whether that is by picking the best value for money providers or renegotiating with third-party suppliers to get a better deal. So, what does this mean for the business? A better return on investment – thank you operations managers!
“The greatest responsibility of an operations manager is to create a working environment with maximum revenue generating potential.” - Sally Evans, Head of Operations @ Give A Grad A Go.
“It may not be a fee earning role, but you manage budgets and suppliers and every pound saved is a whole pound in the bank.” - Wendy Nicholls, Operations Manager @ Paratus People.
“They [operations manager’s] ensure that each consultant is able to focus completely on driving revenue, which in turn helps the business to grow.” - Sally Evans.
All in all, I think it is safe to say that operations managers are the biggest billing non-fee earners!
“Jack of all trades, masters of none?” Try “masters of all trades” (Nirujan Krishna)
Most people don’t know what an operations manager actually does, and this is because they do everything, literally everything. They wear all the hats in the business and are the go-to person for all functions.
“Heard of the phrase “Jack of all trades, Master of none?” … well, let’s amp that phrase up so it means “Master of everything”… Kinda! Yes, you may not be a subject matter expert in every field, but you will have a very good grasp as to how every department functions.” - Nirujan Krishna.
“Depending on the size of the business, operations managers can oversee everything from invoicing, payroll, office maintenance, HR, implementing new technology and driving new processes.” - Sally Evans.
“Ops leaders have the benefit of 360-degree vision, we understand the business plan, comms & marketing plans, sales targets, people development ambitions and more.” - Jennifer Simmons.
“I oversee and manage all operational functions in the business with cross-over into sales strategy and implementation across the senior management team. It’s a massive role and means that I am spinning many, many plates at one time!” - Sarah Jane Balch.
Operations managers are also the problem solvers of the business. When there is an issue or query it is almost always the operations manager who comes up with an effective solution as they know the business the best!
“Although not recruiters themselves, Ops staff are familiar with the recruitment process and can, therefore, deal with the requests of both clients and candidates, as well as their own staff. My team are always first to be called upon when there’s a question the consultants can’t answer, or if an issue arises with one of our clients.” - Charisse Fallaria, Operations Manager @ Trilogy International.
The real heroes
Operations managers are the glue which holds the business together. They introduce, streamline and improve policies and procedures to ensure everyone has the tools they need to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“The goal is to assist the business in hitting maximum operational efficiency and also doing it in a way that causes minimum disruption to the sales floor.” - Alana Duncan.
“It is true that there is always a misconception about how critical the back office is, and whilst the sales team are celebrating, it is important the back office is not an oversight as they are integral to the foundations of the company.” - Sarah Jane Balch.
“I think operations managers are such a value-add in recruitment because we see all parts of the business and I don’t think we can strictly be referred to as a back-office function. We sit firmly in the middle.” - Alana Duncan.
“By streamlining processes and analysing data, they are able to set everyone in the company up to succeed.” - Sally Evans.
Essentially, the non-fee earners may not be the ones directly bringing new business in, but they most certainly are the ones who make sure their company are efficient enough to continue this growth and retain business.
“Who runs the world? Ops”
Operations managers are such an integral part of the business, I am almost convinced that it is they who run the world, whoops, I mean the business – but they probably run the world too!
“Ops Managers are definitely the ones that put the teams and directors before themselves and most of the time dealing with challenges that no one knows about. I would say they are the backbone of the company and through they need to put measures in place that most people may not necessarily appreciate… they are there to keep things moving and functioning.” - Sarah Jane Balch.
“Effective ops leadership isn’t always about leading the charge, it’s arguably more important to lead from the bottom and bring the team members from every functional group along on the journey, allowing them to feel part of the story and become emotionally invested in the firm’s success.” - Jennifer Simmons.
“All in all, we may be the silent ones who are locked up in an office somewhere and only come out when there is a problem to troubleshoot but really, come spend a day with us and see why Operations is such an integral part of any business.” - Nirujan Krishna.
Most of the time people do not really realise what an operations manager actually does for them, probably take for granted the amount of times they go to their operations manager for help with something.
Operations managers are always there to support each function, ensure the recruiters are able to bill as much as possible and bring all the directors ideas to life. The value they add is ensuring a recruitment business is getting from A to B in a shorter time scale while ensuring the day-to-day smooth running of the office.
If you are looking for an absolute superstar to push your business forward or you are that superstar operations manager who is undervalued (I promise there are great directors out there who would really appreciate you!), get in touch with me via email@example.com or 0203 805 5221.
To have a look at our latest roles in Operations Management, click here!