15 Essential Operational Management Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Operations managers rely on many skills to perform successfully in their roles. If you're transitioning to an operational management role, the skills you apply on the job can boost your success and effectiveness. From managing budgets and organizing project details to collaborating with teams, operations managers develop strong soft and hard skills to take on the responsibilities of the job. In this article, you'll learn what operational management skills are, why they're important, how to showcase these skills and 15 operational management skills that can boost your career success.

What are operational management skills?

Operational management skills are traits that operations managers develop in order to effectively support business practices that maximize efficiency and achieve success. Operations managers rely on a strong combination of both hard skills and soft skills to organize and direct their organizations' processes, including skills like technical aptitude, coordination and planning.

Related: What Is Operations Management?

Why are operational management skills important?

Professionals who work in operations management roles take on responsibilities that are crucial to the success of their companies. Skills like project management, delegation, flexibility and business finance knowledge help operations managers make decisions about product development, risk management and cost reduction strategies. With in-depth knowledge of business processes and management, operations managers are better able to initiate projects, collaborate with teams and meet important deadlines.

As an operations manager, you can be responsible for a range of important tasks and projects that depend on your capabilities and expertise in specific areas of business, management and production. For instance, working as an operations manager in a large manufacturing company may require you to direct multiple production teams and plan and implement strategies that help the company achieve positive outcomes. Your coordination, collaboration, planning and budgeting skills are all traits that are important for this career.

Related: 16 Important Management Tips

15 types of operational management skills

The following examples of operational management skills are necessary to perform effectively in operations and production management:

Technical proficiency

Operations management requires proficiency with technical applications such as production automation, data entry and using software to access project data, track budget information and design processes. Many businesses and organizations integrate technical applications for tracking and automating business processes, maintaining customer relationships and monitoring costs and revenue generation. Because of the wide range of technological functions companies rely on, technical proficiency is an essential aspect of your operational management skills.

Data processing skills

As an operations manager, you may be responsible for collecting, entering and disseminating operational data within your company's computer system. Data processing and organization is important for tracking many business functions, including sales transactions, incoming and outgoing cash flow, shipments from vendors, customer accounts, product design and processes within your supply chain management.

Product development

Many operations managers take part in the product development phases of the projects they work on. From assisting in the development and design of new products to overseeing quality control of finished units and monitoring budgets, operations managers must understand the product development processes that allow businesses to generate revenue. In this role, you must have the skill necessary to support product development teams and lead projects to success.

Risk analysis

Risk analysis and mitigation are necessary components to initiating new projects and product development plans. Operations managers analyze aspects of their companies' processes to identify potential challenges and create solutions should negative situations arise. Your capabilities in analyzing factors that affect your organization's operations and creating strategies that reduce risks to important processes are crucial to performing in your role effectively.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning and critical thinking are two important aspects of your operational management skills you need on the job. Operations managers must be able to anticipate issues that can affect successful outcomes and approach challenges with creative solutions that help teams meet objectives. Strategic planning also means having the ability to interpret input and information that are necessary for making decisions about business processes.

Budget management

Operations managers are often in charge of managing company production budgets and business finance and math skills are necessary to make sound choices regarding cash flow. Budget management requires operations managers to track costs and incoming revenue, make forecasts about future production costs and profits and assist finance professionals in preparing and filing important financial reports.

Staff management

Operations managers work in management roles and are typically responsible for the direction and oversight of multiple teams of employees. As a manager, you need to have strong skills that make you efficient in delegating tasks, organizing and maintaining employee schedules and conducting evaluations and employee assessments.

Decision-making skills

Decision-making skills are critical in operations management. You need to be able to discern pertinent information and analyze how different factors can affect the success of your business's operations. Your ability to consider different perspectives, alternative outcomes or varying strategies can help you make sound decisions on the job.

Related: 15 Ways To Improve Your Decision-Making Skills

Problem-solving skills

Conflicts can arise in operations management, such as conflict between staff, challenges to completing projects on time and other issues that affect overall success. Problem-solving skills allow you to weigh options and implement solutions that help overcome problems in the workplace. Conflict resolution skills are another part of your problem-solving capabilities that are necessary to adapt to changing situations.

Communication skills

Operations managers must have exceptional communication skills to interact with colleagues, staff and other individuals every day. You may frequently need to use your written communication skills to transcribe technical data, create reports and communicate throughout your organization. It's also important to develop your listening skills, presentation skills and negotiation skills, as these traits are extremely important for encouraging team feedback, leading meetings and discussing business contracts.

Organizational skills

Organization and attention to detail can positively influence your success as an operations manager. In your role, you may need to keep track of project files, employee paperwork, budgets, project schedules and other important details surrounding company processes. Your ability to notice changes and significant details can allow you to better identify factors affecting production so you can implement strategies that keep teams and operations on track.

Time management

Scheduling deadlines, monitoring important production milestones and ensuring teams finish projects within specific deadlines are several responsibilities that depend on your time management skills. You may also be in charge of organizing your teams' schedules, which requires you to be aware of working hours and the time it takes to complete different tasks.

Interpersonal skills

Working and collaborating with others is a large part of the role of an operations manager. Your interpersonal skills give you empathy, compassion and the ability to connect with others in the workplace. With strong interpersonal skills, you can better develop trust with customers and staff and build supportive relationships at work. Leading and managing your teams with compassion and encouraging creativity and diverse ideas are more ways your interpersonal skills can boost your success in your management role.

Leadership skills

Strong leadership skills give you the expertise you need to motivate others, inspire ideas and foster supportive and diverse teams. Effective leaders combine management strategies and their ability to influence and motivate others to collaborate, share and direct various processes necessary for achieving objectives.

Adaptability

Flexibility and adaptability are important traits of your operational management skills. In fast-paced environments, operations managers must think and act quickly to keep up with changing demands. This ability to remain adaptable and open-minded to different situations that occur in the workplace.

Related: 6 Important Workplace Adaptability Skills

Operational management skills in the workplace

Improving your operational management skills can help you boost your efficiency on the job and increase your ability to achieve successful outcomes. Use the following tips for insight into how to improve your operational management skills in the workplace:

  • Ensure you monitor important HR processes. As an operations manager, it's important to be engaged in hiring processes, training development and attracting qualified talent. Instead of periodically gaining insight into these processes, ensure you're monitoring HR activities regularly.

  • Develop in-depth knowledge of product design. Improve your abilities to brainstorm, collaborate and design new concepts and expand on existing ideas. Your product design skills can help you in the production processes so your company's offerings are better able to meet market demands.

  • Learn how to create accurate forecasts and budgets. Develop your ability to analyze financial information to create accurate forecasts that detail costs, expected revenues and strategies for keeping projects within budget.

  • Improve your understanding of supply chain management. Supply chain management is an integral aspect of overseeing the operations of your company. From product design and production to market sales, it's important to learn how these processes work and how they affect outcomes.

  • Develop your customer service skills. Operations managers interact with a range of individuals on the job, from staff members to clients to potential hires. Customer service skills can help you achieve success in sales, negotiations with vendors and your oversight of business teams.

Related: 10 Skills That Can Help You Become an Effective Manager

Highlighting operational management skills

If you're transitioning into an operational management role, here are several ways you can make your skills and expertise in the field stand out to employers:

On your resume

Since operations management is an upper-level career role, your experience may be quite extensive with unique skills and talents. Highlight your skills within a professional summary or directly beneath your resume summary in a section that lists your capabilities. Include your operational skills that the job description mentions so you can demonstrate your fit for the job. This helps employers see your qualifications right away and gain insight into how your skills match with what they're looking for.

In a cover letter

When you write your cover letter, describe how you plan to contribute to the company by giving examples of the skills and methods you use in your role. This helps the employer get an idea of how you can benefit their organization and what qualifications you have that allow you to contribute successfully.

During an interview

When meeting with interviewers, you can highlight your operational management skills by giving examples of your past responsibilities and how you applied your expertise to achieving results. Showcasing your skills in this manner illustrates quantifiable achievements and shows interviewers how you apply your skills on the job.

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