How Do You Get Recognition In An Operations Role?
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How Do You Get Recognition In An Operations Role?

Welcome to yet another Ops Stories roundtable. Every now and then, we put our heads together to dive into an operational topic presented to us by one of our community members.

The format is simple and informal:

  • The host presents the topic and shares a couple of questions
  • We split to small groups (4-5 people) to discuss
  • For the last 30 mins, we share our takeaways, advice and actions with the rest of the group

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This time, the topic is brought and conversation facilitated by Simone Werzberger, Operations Manager at Trail. We’ll be talking about how to get more recognition in an Operations role.

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Operations Managers, Head of Operations, COO...roles where you are expected and known for getting stuff done.

How do we find recognition and fulfilment in a role that is typically internal and flies under the radar amongst the team?

🤔 Some questions we’ll be tackling:

  • How to make your mark and get yourself recognised in Operations
  • How do you find fulfilment in a heavily internal and autonomous role?
  • How do you create a career path and progression for yourself?
  • What are some KPIs and OKRs that get you recognised amongst your colleagues?

Event Notes

GROUP 1

How to make your mark and get yourself recognised in Operations

  • Define what you mean to be as an operations leader - what are/are not your distinct reponsibilities
  • Impossible to define success for otherwise
  • Lynchpin KPI - estimated time savings of other managers in the company - how do you make other departments of the company
    • manual estimations - how did other people in the company save money
    • headcount efficiency
  • Ask the CEO why you were hired? What problem were you trying to solve?
    • How do you measure that that thing is true
  • Go on holiday - see how the company fairs without you
    • Make your mark that it can work without you
    • But if you're there it works better

How to start

  • If ever possible, define what type of Ops mgr you are (there are many)
  • Ask the CEO why you're hired - the reason can and should be used to define what success looks like
    • Ex. Lumio defines the business need before hiring. Those skills & competencies define the job and create a scorecard for that employee's success in their role, used to facilitate regular conversations. This helps demonstrate influence on the company's original need, and feeds back into the company scorecard
    • Scorecard - how do you keep employees engaged on a scorecard when it doesn't show any progress and as the company objectives evolve
      • company need vs personal ambition - scorecard evolves regularly and in collaboration with the individual to reflect new company needs + their personal ambition

Metrics

  • Biz Ops: improving operational efficiency of other teams - labor efficiency (work completion compared to number of employees, and improving that); financial efficiency
  • Sales ops: Sales responsible for bringing in revenue, operations responsible for increasing margin - cost & time efficiency
  • Product ops:
    • Completion of other teams work - operations function should be enabling them to get it done
      • Ex. What % of other teams tasks were completed on the biweekly sprint?
  • People ops: employee retention and labor efficiency

Progression:

  • What must be true of an employee for them to move up to the next level - eg. what must I achieve to be a director
    • tracked against that in every performance review

How to track your influence

  • Document your contribution to projects almost like you were a consultant, evaluate the impact, and review it with management monthly
  • How do you spend less time doing things that you shouldn't be doing
  • Quantify and place value of your structure of the week

GROUP 2

  1. How to make your mark and get yourself recognised in Operations

Problem solving - you can fix other people's problems. Identify an area the business is struggling with and being the person who fixes it.

Taking initiative - Doing things outside of your normal job spec

Shouting about yourself/ Being your own hype man in your annual review

When you're in the midst of your work, people don't really know what you're doing. But don't be the person on Slack who's always shouting about themselves.

It feels like smaller teams (under 5) means it's easier to get recognition since everyone knows what each other is doing. If it's a bigger company (300ish) how do you give recognition to everyone fairly? You don't have to.

Aim for the people that you interactive with to know what you're working on and give you recognition.

Using a Slack channel for cross-company recognition

There's different ways to give recognition, it can also be inviting them to meetings with senior people. Make them be seen as the person who can fix things.

Key Take away: Shout out about your teams accomplishments, which by virtue is you

Key take away: Create a culture where it's normal to shout out people and make sure you do it as well. Try and tie it into the company values, make a 'shout out Friday' which ties in with your company values.

Key take away: If you want to highlight something you've done, try and use data as much as possible. Numbers can tell a better story.

  1. How do you find fulfilment in a heavily internal and autonomous role?

Seeing people use the processes/tools you've put in place

Day to day: Find out how you enjoy working (with others? Alone?) collaborate if it will help you

Key Take away: Am I enjoying where my career/business is going is different from are you enjoying the day to day. It's key to separate those and think about them different.

It's important to think about which type of fulfilment you're after

Focus on making the tasks you're doing as enjoyable as possible

Key Take Away: The team makes all the difference. If you like your team, you'll most likely feel more fulfilled.

Key take away: Know what your core values are as a human, and use that to guide you towards a job that will fulfil you. Ie, working for a green energy company vs shell oil

Key take away: Do NOT depend on your job for all of your fulfilment, your job is not your life although it might seem like that

Shout about your KPIs/OKR achievements as well

  1. How do you create a career path and progression for yourself?

Having a clear job progression built into the company

Key take away: Having a good manager is key, a supportive manager can help you discuss goals over a short or long term

Key take away: Don't focus on titles, but focus on how you want your life to look in the future. Ie big or small teams, do you manage them? Can you dictate your own time? Work remote or hybrid?

Quarterly and development meetings where you plan what you want to focus on and suggest your own targets. Discuss these with your manager and agree them so you feel like the company backs your progression as well.

If you're a manager, it can feel like you don't have the time to focus on your team

  1. What are some KPIs and OKRs that get you recognised amongst your colleagues?

Creating them in a language that people understand

Financial terms are always a good one, people respond to £

Reporting on the same KPIs / Consistency is good

If it's a smaller team, KPIs are better and can be a bit more fluffy.

Key take aways:

  • Tracking staff churn
  • Debt collection processes
  • Uptake in tools launched (people using it, messages exchanged, etc.)
  • Customer satisfaction surveys?

GROUP 3

  • Do we actually want recognition?
  • Ops people have massive egos but they're very well hidden from external parties ;)
  • Things that we do are not very sexy or exciting...not sexy enough for people in exco (they prefer shiny new things)
  • Recognition sometimes happens with line managers
  • Misunderstanding of Ops roles - sometimes not seen as strategic - sometimes involved, sometimes not with projects
    • Add boundaries for your role and feedback what this boundaries are
    • How to pick battles on what you should be involved in?
      • Being involved early stage as you will be doing some workload, being involved as you're interested for your career path
      • Starts with hiring for an Ops role, hiring managers don't know what they are looking for
  • Would like to be involved but don't want anything else on my plate
  • Setting ourselves up for success in the future and being more vocal and intentional communicating with our managers
    • Through goal setting (at the company and also personally)
  • Strategy: get them to recognise/understand what you do by quitting or going on holiday 🙂
  • Hard to quantify work (showing with data)
  • Showing your projects over a time period - pulling others into what your working on, so they can see what you're doing, ask questions
  • Recognising your own skills - we don't do this until we write it down or we have proactively stopped an issues (which is harder to show but we feel proud)
  • Start equating Ops with other teams eg. Product teams
  • Helpful to have a time period to set goals and see what has been achieved - confidence in what we are doing and what work has been put into goals/projects
  • Perfection is the enemy of progress

Takeaways

  • Documentation is key - writing down what you've done - review over a time period (e.g. 3 months)
  • Standing up for ourselves - setting our boundaries and sharing this with others
  • Being more vocal and intentional when communicating with our managers
  • Getting outside recognition with mentors

GROUP 4

  • Feeling as thought we're dealing with more of the breadth than the depth
  • Is there an area that you're enjoying that you're looking to go more in depth?
    • InfoSec
    • People Ops - Professional Development, employee journey
    • Designing OKRs/KPIs and Goal Setting — leading to General Manager
    • Strategy - Data "guru", and Finance
  • How we can help the rest of the company set better goals?
  • A lot of people know inherently that a lot of stuff lives in only our heads, but this recognition doesn't translate into career progression
  • A skill and an ability to make people be able to help themselves
    • Good Documentation is Key!
    • Can be scary because you're measuring how redundant you can make yourself
    • Book recommendation: The Checklist Manifesto
  • Mentors
    • Book recommendation: One Minute Mentor (100 pg)
    • Helps to shape the relationship
  • How to tell the stories in a way that's interesting to people
    • I'm one of the few people in the org that has certain interactions
  • Feeling like you want to play down how "broken" processes were before
  • What is the process? Why are we doing it?
    • Provide context at the beginning: For new people, tell them why we're doing what we're doing
  • Book recommendation: The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error by Sidney Dekker
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Need to be a lot clearer about the things that we are doing vs the things we're not doing
    • Create stories with context — weekly show and tell, who's been living our values
    • Career path: talk to mentors to learn about different paths

HOUSEKEEPING

🛖 Housekeeping:

  • Let's check if this Notion doc is working for everyone 🙂
  • After intro, we'll be splitting into groups of 4-5 people
  • Quick guide for our amazing facilitators ❤️
    • (First of all - massive thanks for volunteering! 🙏)
    • Kick-start with quick intros: who everyone is, why is this topic relevant?
    • Ask if anyone would like to help with taking notes and/or summarising your group discussion and takeaways at the end of the event
    • You can use this Notion doc for notes — this way they'll be accessible to everyone afterwards and act as inspiration for future generations 😉 Scroll down (or click here) and you'll see your group
    • Use the questions above to initiate discussion
    • You'll have 3-4 minutes at the end of the event to share your learnings 🙂
  • Quick guide for everyone else 🕺💃
    • Just participate in the discussion and have fun!
    • Please help out your group facilitators where possible. Team work makes the dream work! ✨
    • Do use this Notion doc to jot down anything that's helpful (quotes, ideas, tips, tricks, etc.)
  • Please feel free to bring your breakfast 🥐☕️ and consume it during the discussion
  • We'll do our best to finish on time but if you have a hard stop and we're still talllllkingggg, obviously feel free to leave 👍
  • When it's time to go into breakout rooms, please find your name and room on this list and join!