Reception Manager at large city Investment Bank reveals how she was promoted
Now in charge of a large team of 8 receptionists this FOH Manager gives you a good insight into her progression up the ladder
What qualifications did you leave education with?
I left School with 5 GCSEs
What was your first job experience of customer service?
I worked Saturdays in a flower shop. I then left school as I got offered a full time position in the florist.
How did that go?
I absolutely loved it. I love meeting people and still do. I loved how busy the flower shop especially at during Valentines and Mother’s day. I got great satisfaction at the end of the day providing good customer service.
Can you remember any difficult, unusual or funny anecdotes.
Not really funny, but we had quite a few male customers who at Valentines would send flowers (perhaps not to their wife). And while trying to be very discrete another customer recognised him saying “oh how lovely, Mary will be delighted with those flowers”. The customer then had to quickly order two lots of flowers. That was a long time ago now but I clearly remember how embarrassed we all were at the time.
Did you make friends easily?
Yes I find it easy to approach people and make friends, sometimes during my working life I met people who didn’t want to become friends and I found that hard to begin with. But I then learnt to know that not everyone is the same as you and not everyone will want to make friends.
What were your fears?
I was worried that we would get a complaint in the shop that I hadn’t provided the best service possible.
What were your ambitions?
I didn’t really have any major ambitions only to do well and provide the best service that I could in any job that I was doing.
Did you progress there?
Yes I started working on Saturdays only and got offered a full time position then eventually became team leader.
How did that happen?
I worked hard every Saturday and was very keen to learn everything I could. I wanted to answer every phone call and serve every customer. I made sure I was always on time and I was very reliable.
How did this job prepare you for your next one?
Customer service is very important in whatever business you are in whether it’s a small flower shop in Ireland or a corporate investment manager’s role here in London, the principal is the same. Give the best you can and they will be back. The customer will remember you, even the smallest thing they will remember.
What was your next job?
I worked as a receptionist/tea/coffee maker in a barristers Chambers when I first came to London.
How did that go?
Again I loved it, it was completely different to serving customer in the shop. But yet I was still serving customers, Clients coming in to have meetings. I also loved that job, meeting all the clients and had a great social life with the Clerks and barristers.
When was your first management role?
Here about 3 years ago now.
How did you get promoted.
My previous manager left and her manager thought I would make a good manager and promoted me, I was part of the team for so long that I knew the role inside and out.
What advice would you give to a receptionist starting out.
Enjoy what you do, if you don’t it will show especially on reception. We all have to start somewhere, I was sweeping floors when I first started out and no I manage a team of 8.
What is it like managing people?
Sometimes difficult. I am very much a people person and my way of managing is not perfect and wont suit all managers. I feel that having that close relationships with my team works for me. Some managers like to show they are in charge/the Boss by being rude or personable. Personable works for me and my team.
How do you keep your teams motivated?
Always have 1:1s, discuss any issues or anything they need to talk about. Keep them involved as much as you can, share ideas, ask their opinion (you may not always use it), team lunches/drinks always work well when we can get out.
Delegation is great way to keep people motivated. Giving the team members who are willing to learn and progress some extra work is always good. Show your team a certain amount of flexibility in the way they follow your instructions and don’t be slow to offer encouragement, support and praise for a job well done.
How do you cope with keeping a team on your side but also having to manage them to improve performance?
Be as honest as I can, not everyone will be happy with some of your decisions, but if you know that decision is the right one to provide the business with the best service you can, there is nothing much more you can do. Eventually if they are right for the job then they will come around to your way of thinking.
What advice for someone wanting to become a manager?
Attend all the courses and training that your company will provide. Learn as much as you can about the role and the team. The team I believe is very important, if you don’t have them on your side you may find it difficult at a later date to engage them.
How do you get noticed in a big team by your manager?
I done my job well and I went above and beyond to provide the best service I could. Try and think of ways to improve the service. Good time keeping and loyalty. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you may not always get the answer you want but at least you asked. I was always told you don’t ask you don’t get within reason of course.
What life skills do you think you need to be a manager?
A very important life skill is the ability and willingness to learn and develop. By learning new skills we increase our understanding of the world/job. Experience and practice is best, actually doing the job or having done the job will show your team/business you actually do know what you are talking about.
Influencing others is a vital skill.
AND FINALLY: What life skills has it given you?
I never thought I could manage a team and I now mange a team of 8. I can now deal with challenges on a daily basis if needed. Each team member is different and I would approach each of them differently.
I would have never been able to write any of this without life skills. I can now present to a room full of people as I have gained knowledge and learn more every day about my role and team. I am very confident in my role and I know what I am taking about, this helps me to move forward every day.
I am a thinker and probably think too much, but I find that part of learning and development.
Thank you – please send in your CV if you’re looking for a receptionist agency
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