Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Who is a Chief Operating Officer?
A Chief Operating Officer (COO) is deemed as the second person in the chain of command who looks into the day-to-day business functions. A COO reports to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the Company.
A COO is also known as chief operations officer or operations director or even executive vice president of operations.
To become a COO, an individual must have strong analytical, managerial, communication and leadership skills.
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What are the major roles of a Chief Operating Officer?
As per the Company's established business model, the COO executes the business plan. While the CEO of a company is concerned with long-term growth and broader company outlook, the COO takes care of implementing the strategies.
The role of COO differs from one industry to another and also from Company to Company. Hence it isn't easy to highlight the list of duties of a COO precisely.
Below is a list of some of the COO responsibilities, most common in all industries and businesses.
Some of the key responsibilities of a COO are mentioned below:
- Looking into day-to-day business and keep the CEO updated on any significant development.
- Take care of creating an operations strategy as well as policies.
- Communicate the strategies and policies to the employees.
- Responsible for nurturing employee alignment with business objectives.
- Responsible for managing human resource management.
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What are the different types of COOs?
There are seven types of COOs, according to HBR (Harvard Business Review):
- The executor: One of the COO's role is the execution of plans developed by the CEO or the Company’s top management. As an executor, the COO keeps an eye on the day to day operations within the Company. As CEO looks after the achieving Company's vision, mission, and large-scale decision, the COO can support the CEO in streamlining the process and help reduce the CEO's responsibilities by observing the business’s inner workings.
- The Change Agent: This type is seen in companies undergoing sluggishness concerning vision and market performance. In such a situation, companies introduce COO as a change agent responsible for re-energising public interest in the business. These COOs can sometimes belong to different industries with unique skillset and experience.
- The Mentor: A COO could also be a mentor to the CEO. To explain this, let us say that a Company's CEO is the founder of the Company’s products offered to the client. At some point in time, it may be possible that the CEO's expertise does not meet the new requirements in the product. Hence, in such a case, a COO could be a mentor and can guide the CEO. He/She would be a seasoned professional with the potential to aid the CEO in making a business decision.
- The Other Half: COO could also counter the experience of the CEO. It could be possible that the CEO could sometimes be impulsive and unpredictable. In that case, the COO could be grounded and thinks logically. Thus, allowing the CEO to think abstractly. COO supports the CEO and stabilises the catering to the employees’ need for constant instruction, communication, and information.
- The successor: Being the second-in-charge after the CEO, the COO can be considered for the next role if the CEO plans to retire from his position. Being in close contact with the CEO, the COO has a clear idea about the business.
- The MVP: Many companies provide their senior employees opportunities to move up the ladder and become COO by promoting them if they show a high level of value to the Company. This way, the Companies try to hedge their position by stopping to look for any specific successor or setting a leadership succession timeframe.
- The Partner: COO can also work as a partner with the Company's CEO. Although the CEO ranks above COO, still CEO and COO have nearly equal standing in the Company and function as a single entity.
What are the must-have traits of a COO?
As the COO is responsible for all the Company's operations, he/she must have a formidable skill set to support the business achieve organisational goals. Below are some of the essential traits a COO must possess.
COO takes care of the Company's performance. Still, the level of attention given to them is a part of what the CEO gets. They work mainly behind the scenes. Still, their significance does not lessen.
COOs possess excellent communication skill with the executives as well as the teams. COO must have the competence to build consensus between internal stakeholders, media conflicts and discuss.
COOs might also have to act as a spokesperson for the staff and C-suite of the Company.
As highlighted above, a COO is a person that can think strategically. He is the one that can convert the CEO's vision into a reality with quantifiable outcomes. He/she takes care of all the operations to reach the Company's Common strategy and goals.
COOs are also responsible for delegating the task to various departments within the Company. They also look into each department's strengths and weaknesses and accordingly delegate the task to each member to contribute to the Company's goals and vision.
One of the features of the COO is that he/she appreciates talent within the organisation. COO look for ways to improve the Company by strengthening the pipeline of talent via strong hire and providing opportunities to develop existing team members’ skills.
As COO is responsible for the Company's operation, they rely on data for making any decision. Instead of allowing business to be guided by gut feelings, internal politics and instincts, best COOs always prefer to look at the numbers to drive the business.