A Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a high-level executive who works closely with the CEO and other executives to oversee day-to-day operations and ensure that the company runs smoothly.
In this article, I will discuss why companies need a COO, what their roles and responsibilities are, how to recruit the perfect candidate for the job, and how a COO-less company might benefit from an Interim Manager.
What does the COO do?
A COO is responsible for managing the company’s operations, which includes overseeing departments such as finance, human resources, sales, marketing, and manufacturing. They are tasked with developing and implementing operational strategies to improve efficiency and productivity, identifying and mitigating potential risks, and ensuring that the company’s goals and objectives are met.
Or to be put more bluntly, a COO takes full responsibility for the weaker areas of the company departments that the CEO does not want to oversee.
Let’s look at some examples of how a COO might fit into an organization in three areas: operations, business, and support.
An effective business CEO with a strong product CTO brings a COO into the organization. In this case, the weakness of the company is most likely operations (the traditional work domain of the textbook COO).
The COO’s duties within the company will most likely include supervision over the finance and customer service departments, and responsibility for special projects, such as making changes without affecting the company’s current operations.
An efficient technology and product CEO needs support and a new perspective in the business areas of the company.
The COO takes over the responsibilities for sales, marketing, e-commerce, customer service, and ongoing operations. The skills necessary for this position will bring them closer to the role of CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) and the COO will end up participating in the creation of the company’s strategy.
The founder of a company has launched a new business project that will take up more and more time in the long run. This is similar to real-life examples like Jack Dorsey (once both the CEO of Twitter and the CEO of Square) and Stefan Batory (once the CEO of Booksy and iTaxi).
The COO will assist the CEO with managing both projects simultaneously. In most cases, the COO position is employed by two people or another configuration of managers who can support the founder.
What companies need a COO?
Any company with complex and diverse operations can benefit from a COO. This can include large corporations with multiple subsidiaries and divisions, startups that are expanding rapidly, and organizations that operate in highly regulated industries. Companies experiencing significant growth or facing major challenges can also benefit from having a COO to oversee operations and ensure that the company is on track to meet its goals.
When does a company need a COO?
A company may need a COO when the CEO’s workload becomes overwhelming, or when the company is experiencing rapid growth or facing significant challenges. In some cases, the CEO may recognize that they lack the operational expertise to effectively manage the day-to-day operations of the company and may choose to hire a COO to fill that gap.
In our experience, such a simple procedure can clear up a CEO’s calendar by 40%.
A company may also need a COO as it expands into new markets or enters into new partnerships or collaborations.
But it doesn’t have to be for strictly business reasons. A CEO can just be burned out and in need of a vacation after working for years without one. Or a CEO is struggling with a disease and it is not known when they will recover. Or perhaps they completely lost their passion for business.
How do you recruit a COO?
As you can imagine from the reasons mentioned above, finding a COO differs significantly from other top management recruitment processes. It requires careful planning and consideration.
The first step is to define the job description and determine what skills and qualifications the ideal candidate should possess. This may include a combination of operational expertise, leadership experience, and industry knowledge.
Once the job description is defined, you can begin to search for potential candidates. This may involve posting the position on job boards or reaching out to professional networks and executive search firms. Even Casbeg can help you.
It is important to carefully screen potential candidates, conduct thorough interviews, and check references to ensure that they have the necessary skills and experience to be successful in the role.
Hiring someone with experience in a similar position in the same industry increases the likelihood of finding the right fit, but it’s not always that easy. Experience in one organization may not translate into success in another company, even though the position is theoretically the same.
Hiring top managers is like choosing a high-quality suit. It requires proper fitting, precision, and time to get the perfect suit. A ready-made suit, even designed with the best material and care, often won’t cut it.
How long does it take to find the perfect COO?
Finding the perfect candidate for a COO position requires a combination of careful screening and a little luck. But most importantly, as mentioned in the metaphor above, it takes time.
You might end up hiring a COO in a month. However, it will most likely take 3 to 12 months.
Remember, hiring the wrong person can put your entire company at risk. So if an additional 90 days spent on recruiting reduces the risk by 5%, it is worth being patient.
What can companies do while finding a COO?
3 to 12 months? That’s a long time.
In the event that you don’t have that much time and need support now, a great solution is working with an Interim Manager – a temporary manager who will join your company, organize the processes and teams, suggest directions for development, verify business plans, and more.
Casbeg works with companies as an Interim Manager. We especially focus on making the changes we develop everlasting so that the organization is able to continue these good practices beyond our cooperation.
When done properly, the Interim Manager will help lay the groundwork for the future COO – so when they arrive, they’ll be joining an efficient company from day one. So instead of extinguishing fires, the new COO can focus on the actual development of the organization.
Are you interested in interim management?
Let’s talk: [email protected]