When you’re the CEO and President of a company it can be difficult to keep complete oversight of everything your business is doing. It’s hard to admit that, especially if you’ve been in charge from day one – the company is your baby, and saying you need help to look after it can be a blow to your esteem. However, it’s only successful CEOs that can accept hard truths like that and take the action they need to so their company can succeed.
The role of a COO (Chief Operating Officer) is difficult to define: they work closely with a CEO, and the role evolves as that relationship evolves, with the COO taking on roles that can best support the CEO. Some COOs deal with the day mundane day to day operating concerns of a business, leaving a CEO free to strategise, while others specialise in technical aspects of the business, and deliver insights to the CEO.
Today, let’s take a look at some of the qualities you need to look for when you’re hiring a COO so you get the best person you need to support your business.
Communication and Diplomacy
Whatever the relationship that develops between the CEO and COO, communication is vital. They are a vital link between the upper echelons of management and the rest of the company, and due to their broad remit may be the most visible member of C-Suite management for the rest of the business’ employees.
This means they need to be an expert communicator: they may have to report in to the CEO with bad news, and it’s vital to be able to present that bad news constructively and work together to turn the ship around, rather than allow it to fester.
Things change for a COO more than most. As well the changes that every young company goes through, their evolving relationship with the CEO and other Executive Officers will change their own role within the business, and regularly! It’s also not uncommon for a COO’s job to include building a robust support and reporting structure that actually makes them redundant. It’s important to know you have the resilience for this before you begin, otherwise your career will simply build towards a crushing blow.
After a period in decline – with only 36% of Fortune 500 companies using a COO in 2014 – the Chief Operating Officer looks set for a resurgence in 2018. Start ups are getting bigger and more complex, and with volatile markets endangering funding, investing in a more robust support structure for your business is well worth your while.