8 Qualities of an Operations Manager

Yusuf Tokdemir / [email protected]

I have an intensive working experience, knowledge and skills in food and pharmaceutical industrial operations and services as a leader.

I always believe that leadership capability is one of the most important factors in operational excellence. He is tasked with ensuring that operations are both efficient, effective, productive and competitive.

Therefore, companies have to work with the right business minded, well experienced and skilled leaders.

Today’s business structure is very complex, uncertain and hyper-competitive. Leaders have to focus on searching and applying the most effective, innovative and operational practices to leverage against the competition. They have to fully understand a business’s overall strategic goals and objectives and the ability to use and apply this information to run the business successfully.

I know that a truly effective operations leader can develop and implement efficient and effective processes by employing certain crucial traits.

Operations Leaders are Realistic and Practical.

They create candor effect in the organization and care the people. They create competitive engagement and lowest turnover by providing a regular and helpful feedback to employees in a way that encourages them to work effectively. This feedback can be an encouragement for a job well done or a correction to improve the way of working. On the other side, asking for feedback to the employees takes courage and supports to create an open and transparent culture in the organisation.

They recognize and respect employees. This is a powerful motivator for employees. They also train and develop people and reward the success. If people feel these in a genuine way, they will work to achieve the business objectives and this will create a competitive organizational alignment.

They create a calm air of excitement for everyone.

Operations Leaders Looks for Efficiency and Productivity.

A truly effective operations leader has the capability to manage the input and output of resources to optimize the processes to decrease the costs of products per unit by applying an effective lean management and remaining agile in a competitive manner. They focus on organizational objective, operational excellence, organizational agility, production costs, product quality and delivery in time. They direct people’s attention to achieving the vision of success to which they are all committed to the organization health and not on creating clubs, clans and internal politics.

Operations Leaders Focus on Quality

I know that a truly effective operations leader stands on the field operations, suppliers, warehousing, production line, quality department and study the process, inspect and improve.

A great operations leader makes benchmarking, competitive intelligence and customer surveys to improve their products and services.

He/she improve skills by training, investment in equipment and better management of staff to prevent product recalls. They respect to the regulatory compliance, people and environment.

I see that some companies have quality failures and we learn these from the social media. They are unhappy due to financial losses, unhappy customers and decreasing market share. They know that if such issues continue it can damage their company’s image and may contribute to the business failure.

A truly effective operations leader have a superior commitment to create sustainable improvement in quality performance, customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance. This will contribute competitive cost reduction and higher customer loyalty.

Operations Leaders are Effective in Supply Chain Management

I have to say that companies are facing inescapable pressure on their supply chains in today’s complex business conditions. This situation creates low productivity, poor quality, poor customer loyalty, poor growth, poor profitability and higher costs for many companies.

Most innovative companies and nations are increasingly focusing to the supply chain to create more transient competitive advantages against local and global competitors.

When I was working in the Agri-food industry, we have decided to establish a controlled agricultural production system to supply the fruits, vegetables and others for baby food industry. This was the farm to fork program with full traceability according to the European baby food legislation. We supplied 100% of the materials (except tropic fruits) from Turkey in one year. It was the first in Turkey. It was a great teamwork. We saved a lot of money by supplying materials from Turkey without any failure. This is the best example of the value chain innovation and effective risk management. Therefore, I have to say that the management of the Agri-food supply chain is very distinctive due to the food perish ability and requirements of food safety, organoleptic quality and other factors.

It is clear that an excellent supply chain should be designed and operated to ensure alignment between effective supply chain business practices and the competitive strategy of the company. Therefore, a truly effective operations leader should define the business strategy, operating model, operational performance objectives and talent management process in a competitive way.

I have to say that great operations leaders focus on

  1. Customer response: Company should develop and implement measures such as order cycle time, perfect order fill rates, product quality, and new product time to market.
  2. Efficiency: They have to assess supply chain capability for converting inputs into outputs. I believe that companies should focus on labor productivity, labor content, cost of supply chain, and waste to improve their costs and competitive power against peers.
  3. Asset utilization: Company should focus on how effectively facilities and inventories are being used.

Operations leaders know the crucial importance of the drivers of supply chain performance that are facilities (manufacturing and/or warehousing), inventory, transportation, information (data and analysis), sourcing and pricing, competitive intelligence and people’s experience, knowledge and skills.

They have great commitment to create business values such as return on equity; return on assets; accounts payable turnover; profit margin; asset turnover, accounts receivable turnover; inventory turns; property, plant and equipment turns; and cash-to-cash cycle by implementing a competitive supply chain agility and responsive management.

They maximize productivity and minimize risks and respond effectively to the demand. They know the crucial requirements of the manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, transportation and customers. They deliver the right products in the right place and at the right time by providing a cost-effective and competitive manner.

  1. Operations Leaders Lead and Delegate

They are great in leading the people to achieve the business goals. They have the  competitive capability to take responsibility and effectively delegate.

They work with the right people who have excellent experience, knowledge and skills (includes EQ). They hire right skills to the right job and create competent workforce.

They develop leadership skills to transform supply chain and operations to the new levels of excellence by training, developing, motivating and mobilizing internal and external teams.

They create excellence in communication and collaboration between company, suppliers and customers. They are transparent and create value and increase customer happiness.

They regularly measure people’s performance of the supply chain organization and remove the toxic people from the operating units. Otherwise, they will create a negative culture and it will damage the company in the long-term.

They create excellence in applying the regulations and communicating with the authorities.

  1. Operations Leaders Innovate

 They adapt their  business to emerging technologies in today’s digital age and use robotics to increase productivity and decrease the cost.

They develop and implement a competitive supply chain, production, quality and  innovation management strategy that should be linked to the company’s marketing and innovation management strategy through regarding the political situation that disrupts the supply chain and operational excellence.

They search, develop and launch new innovative and competitive products faster than competitors by regarding short and long-term marketing and innovation strategies.

They work with the great people who have excellence in strategic focus on cost, time and quality in terms of management of people, process and product by performing alignment with the business strategy and making right decisions in a competitive manner.

They develop and implement risk management and knowledge management. They feel the need to maintain a close eye on suppliers, operations, competitors, local and global market, customer needs, developments in technology and services and analyse the future of the sector.

  1. Operations Leaders Understand the Organization’s Financial Performance

Great operations leaders contribute to their organizations’ financial performance. They have the capability to prepare supply and sales projections, demand planning, expense budgets and analyze profit and loss statements and balance sheets. They take suitable actions to keep the operations at the minimum cost level and highest in profitability. 

  1. Operations Leaders are Global

We are living in a period of hyper-competitive business world and globalization is increasing. Local and global companies are competing. This means that operations leaders have to have global culture, mentality, recognizing, respect and care to different people and great adaptability and flexibility to live and strong skills (including a higher EQ) for leading the people in any point of the world.


A truly effective operations leader partners with CEO’s, MD’s and business owners, to strategically bring best practices to their business via leadership development and coaching, process improvements, inventory control, cost reductions, organizational alignment, supplier management, anything that will bring improvements in customer satisfaction as well as the Bottom Line EBITDA performance.

I have to say that excellence in operations management is like a symphony orchestra! It needs a great conductor to manage for playing the Mozart’s symphony no; 41 “Jupiter”. The success of a business has become increasingly dependent on the ability and skills of its leader and people. We are in a period of “The War for Talent”! Take your actions today!


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