Choosing the Right COO for the Job

June 4, 2018

Choosing the right COO is like choosing your life partner. You need good chemistry, someone you respect and trust  with your baby, someone you could spend 8+ hours a day for 7+ years and still like them at the end of most days, and so much more. I believe that good hiring is a combination of competency-based interviewing (Lominger), demonstrated experience, and broad personality screening matched with a passion for your business and what the business needs to thrive.

 

 

 

To help you choose the best COO for your business, I've culled together a set of resources at the end of this article if you like the details. However, as any good COO should do for you, here's the bottomline summary of the research:

 

Important for good job match with CEO/Founder:

  1. Must have clear chemistry with CEO

  2. Must be fully aligned to the vision of the CEO

  3. Willing to be in service to the CEO

  4. Trust and communication

  5. Clearly defined roles and decision rights (delegated authority)

  6. Lock on the back door (Meaning you will back up your COO to the team and vice versa)

 

4 Traits of the Best COOs

  1. Strategic with a focus on the details

  2. Focus on Talent Management

  3. No ego

  4. Data-driven

 

Areas of value - 300 C-suite execs interviewed

  1. Optimizing operations performance

  2. Delivering significant cost efficiencies

  3. Executing transformation or change management projects

  4. Discovering and supporting growth opportunities for the business

  5. Ensuring effective risk management

  6. Managing functional departments


COO Value Chain

At what level do you need your COO to bring to your organization?

 

Level 1 - Execution

  1. Ensuring suitable operations management (Keeping the belts turning)

  2. Optimizing operational processes (Improving your turf)

Level 2 - Enablement

  1. Designing a framework to implement strategy into operations (Making the vision real)

  2. Managing the strategic assets of the company (Lining up the troops)

Level 3 - Development

  1. Driving key change and transformation initiatives (Business transformation / change agent)

  2. Shaping the future of the business (Bringing business model innovation)

 

7 Types of COOs

  1. The Executor (Executes your vision)

  2. The Change Agent (Master of change management)

  3. The Mentor (to a younger ceo)

  4. The Other Half (the compliment)

  5. The Partner (co-leader, Two in a box)

  6. The Heir Apparent (Successor to the CEO)

  7. The MVP (promoted to keep someone valuable)


Other Key Traits of a Great COO

  1. Deals well with complexity

  2. Mastery of change management

  3. Translate strategic vision into action; Bias toward action

  4. Building scale and capacity in rapid-growth markets with limited resources

  5. Implementing business transformation

  6. Dual focus on top-line growth and bottom-line performance

  7. Process management

  8. Extremely data-driven

  9. Works well and closely with CEOs and CFOs

  10. No ego, in service to the CEO

 

If you want more details, all of this information is sourced from the following wonderful research articles below:​

  1. Caveney, Andrew "The DNA of the COO" Ernst & Young, 2014, http://www.ey.com/publication/vwluassetspi/the_dna_of_the_coo_-_time_to_claim_the_spotlight/$file/dna%20of%20the%20coo.pdf

  2. Bennett, Nathan and Miles, Stephen A.  “Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer.” Harvard Business Review, 1 Aug. 2014, hbr.org/2006/05/second-in-command-the-misunderstood-role-of-the-chief-operating-officer.

  3. Gunjan Bhardwaj, Andreas Eisingerich, and Florian Täube "The Rise of the COO" Harvard Business Review, 9 Nov. 2011, https://hbr.org/2011/11/understanding-the-coo-in-europ?referral=03758&cm_vc=rr_item_page.top_right

  4. Caldbeck, Ryan "4 Common Traits of the Best Chief Operating Officers" Entrepreneur, 4 April 2014, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232762

  5. "Keith Rabois on the Role of a COO, How to Hire and Why Transparency Matters" First Round Review, http://firstround.com/review/Keith-Rabois-on-the-role-of-a-COO-how-to-hire-and-why-transparency-matters/

  6. "Chief operating officer" Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_operating_officer

  7. Bercovici, Jeff "Inside the Mind of Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg" Inc., Dec. 2015, https://www.inc.com/magazine/201510/jeff-bercovici/inside-the-mind-of-sheryl-sandberg.html

  8. "Finding the Right COO Position" The Bridgespan Group, https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/library/careers/finding-right-coo-position

 

 

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