The Role of the COO: Have Your Hiring Practices Kept Up?

The Chief Operating Officer has long remained a common fixture on the org chart for companies along with CEOs and board of directors. The CEO was often considered the liaison to the board and developed the vision for the company, while the COO worked to execute that vision.

Traditionally, the Chief Operating Officer was the second-in-command to the CEO. In a “corporate ladder” culture, the COO was the next in line when the CEO left or resigned. Over the last few years, as more companies had moved away from the hierarchical structure, the COO position had become almost obsolete. Even large Fortune 500 companies, like McDonald’s, we’re eliminating the COO position and merging the responsibilities into the CEO’s role when their COOs retired.

But with the shift in operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the COO position suddenly became more important than ever. While CEOs were busy developing the strategy to move the business forward, the COO worked with every department head to streamline operational structure from sales to technology with the vision of hybrid work as the new normal. It’s clear now that a great COO is a crucial member of any leadership team, so if an operations guru is the missing link in your organization, we’ve got the perfect blog for you today.

Who Needs a COO?

Today, the most common responsibility for a COO is to help the CEO propel the business forward to the next level. While the Founder/ CEO has the drive of a vision and strong startup culture, many don’t have the expertise required to scale. The COO has the knowledge to take that vision, preserve the culture, and scale an efficient company.

How to Hire

Hiring the COO requires input from the CEO and sometimes a board of directors. Because the CEO and COO work so closely together, this person is often hired from within the company. As companies seek to flatten the org chart, you may need to look outside in order to find the right person with the right expertise.

Questions to Ask

During the interview process, you will want to learn more about the candidate’s specific knowledge of your industry. You want to be confident they have done this task before and they’re ready to take on the growth of your company.

Ask your candidate to tell you about a time they strategically identified the root cause of a problem or have them walk you through a framework they built for efficiency at a previous organization. In today’s work culture, you’ll need a COO with creative solutions for hybrid work and the expertise to develop policies to support it.

But the COO role is more than just execution, and they should have some excellent leadership skills as well. In order for them to effectively align with a CEO, they should be able to define the real “why” behind a company’s vision and their role in maintaining that success.

Qualities to Look For

Expertise isn’t everything. When looking for a new CEO, you want someone with a passion for learning, who loves to test new technologies and find the best system for the job.

They need to be extremely organized as they oversee almost every department in a company. They look across many launches and projects running simultaneously to keep everyone on track and on the mission.

You might want a COO who joins the team as the coach, guiding teammates to see their role in a project and giving them what they need to accomplish each goal along the way.

The New Role of COO

As the CEO takes on many operational responsibilities within a company, the role of the COO has shifted. You’re looking for a candidate who complements the Founder/ CEO’s abilities, filling in with experience that the founder might be lacking.

Wrapping Up

The world is constantly changing, and you need an expert to help you compose your team, not just for the challenges of today, but for the hurdles of tomorrow. Our staffing experts understand the industry and have unprecedented access to the best talent in your field. Connect with us today to get started.

Think Forward with Your Next Hire

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