Does your organisation have a Chief Operating Officer (COO)? You may either be preparing to hire one or considering the rationale behind ROI for hiring a COO.

Most organisations with a COO argue that it is one of the most beneficial roles in any business.

  • What is a chief operating officer?

A chief operating officer, also known as a chief operations officer is essentially the second in command in an organisation, reporting directly to the chief executive. In most businesses that have a chief operating officer, they are responsible for the daily operation of the company, leaving the chief executive to concentrate on the strategic direction of the organisation.

To define it any further is actually quite difficult, because unlike other similar position such as chief financial officer or chief information officer whose responsibilities are clearly defined, the precise role of chief operating officer tends to be defined in relation to the specific CEO that they work with. This makes it a highly flexible role and one that can bring significant benefits to an organisation. Here are just some of the ways a chief operating officer can be utilised in your business:

  • Agent of change

One of the best reasons to hire a chief operating officer is for them to lead a specific change initiative, such as a turnaround, a major organizational change or a planned rapid expansion. Bringing in a specific person to be in charge of this in the form of a COO is a very clear statement of intent to all stakeholders and ensures the change project in question has clear leadership, as well as ensuring other C-Suite positions are free to continue to concentrate on their own areas of the business.

  • Mentor

Some businesses bring on board a chief operating officer to mentor a young or inexperienced chief executive (usually a founder). In the age of the internet, businesses can expand at a rapid pace. Having a COO on board who is a business veteran with a great deal of experience as well as a rich network of contacts can ensure that growth is significant but also sustainable. “Trusted advisor and confidant” to the CEO are often used when discussing a COO.

  • The heir

Talent planning is something that all businesses should be doing. A sudden change in leadership can be disastrous for an organisation, and if a prospective leader has not already been identified, it can take a long time to bring a suitable person in, leaving the company directionless for months. Establishing a COO position is a great way to groom, or even test, the person your business has identified as the next CEO. The broad remit of the role is the perfect preparation for the top job.

The partner

Some organisations and some executives work best with a collaborative approach. Just as in tennis where there are doubles specialists, some executives are more effective when paired. Bringing in a chief operating officer as a foil, to complement the CEO’s experience, style or knowledge base can be a very savvy and effective decision.

The COO is often the best person to skilfully ‘manage up’ with the CEO and translate that back into an everyday workable format for the rest of the organisation.

If you’d like to talk about your executive recruitment, why not call MD Helen Plumridge M: 07808 537696 E: LinkedIN