An organization typically has several roles and positions. You may also find several c-suite positions depending on the organisation’s size. These positions are highly sought after because of the good salaries, and individuals in these positions have a level of control over the day-to-day operations of a company. In this article, we’d discuss an important C-suite position in business; the COO. Here, you will learn what a COO is in business.
You will also learn every other important thing you need to know about this position.
This article is quite detailed and will answer most of your questions about this topic.
Meaning of COO in Business – What is COO in Business
COO is an acronym for the chief operating officer.
The chief operating officer is a corporate executive in a company, and the COO is in charge of the company’s daily operational and administrative processes.
They work closely with the CEO and report directly to them.
This means that they are in a position to complement the efforts of the CEO so that the CEO can have enough time to handle more important matters.
They typically handle the company’s internal processes and ensure that everything runs smoothly.
The CEO, on the other hand, handles the business strategy.
Together, the CEO and COO are charged with ensuring that the company operates at its highest potential.
The person that fills this position is often regarded as the second-in-command in the organization.
Other terms for the chief operating officer position are operations director, chief operations officer, and executive vice president of operations.
Understanding the Position of the COO – What is COO in Business
The COO’s main focus is typically on ensuring the company’s business plan is properly executed.
They do this following the already existing business model.
This executive is the implementing arm of the office of the CEO.
When the CEO makes a plan, the COO implements the plan and ensures that everything goes accordingly.
For example, a company has noticed a decline in its customer base.
The CEO can call for better quality control to ensure that consumers get the best quality.
When the CEO does this, it would be the responsibility of the COO to implement the decision.
The COO would be on the lookout for everything that may prevent the CEO’s mandate from being executed.
Types of COO – What is COO in Business
No two companies are the same.
Even though they are in the same industry and cater to the same target market, there would still be a huge difference between the companies.
The reason is that every company has its mode of operation and is also at different growth stages.
A startup’s needs are not the same as that of a multi-national company.
This is why there are different types of chief operating officers.
The type of chief operating officer a company has depends on its needs, how it operates, and the stage it is at.
Below, we’ll discuss the 7 different types of chief operating officers and how they differ.
This way, you can decide which of them is a better fit for your company.
This kind of chief operating officer focuses on implementing the company’s strategies.
They are in charge of ensuring the proper execution of every strategy and plan the senior management makes.
Executor COOs are all about the internal workings of the company.
This chief operating officer is specifically hired to effect certain changes in how the company operates.
They are in charge of new initiatives and ensure everything about it goes the way it should.
For example, a company looking to go on a rapid expansion plan can hire a change agent chief operating officer to execute the plan.
Other half chief operating officers are specifically put in place to complement the CEO.
They often have a different background or skill set from the CEO.
So, they can stand in the gap in areas where they are more knowledgeable than the CEO.
The other half COO and the CEO, often work hand-in-hand, complementing each other as they go.
Partner – What is COO in Business
The responsibilities of the partner chief operating officer and the CEO are majorly the same.
In cases like this, the CEO and COO are sometimes mutual partners, and both control the business.
So, you can see a partner COO as the CEO’s second version.
Mentor – What is COO in Business
This type of chief operating officer is usually highly experienced.
They are specifically hired to mentor and counsel young or inexperienced CEOs.
In most cases, they also mentor other young, high-level executives in the company.
MVP (Most Valued Player)
Chief operating officers under this category are usually promoted to the position to prevent them from going to a rival company.
In most cases, these people should have served in the organization for a long time.
So, the organization cannot afford to lose them.
This type of COO is practically in the position to learn how to be a CEO.
Since they would be working closely with the CEO, they can learn everything they need to know about being a CEO.
So that they can eventually take over the CEO position once the CEO leaves the company.
This is a very effective way to ensure whoever takes on the CEO position will be properly equipped to handle the role.
You should note that a chief operating officer may be hired to fill any of the above roles, but that does not mean they are restricted to that role.
Sometimes, the COO will fill most, if not all, of the above roles while serving as a COO.
The Relationship Between the CEO and COO – What is COO in Business
One thing that you know already at this point is that the CEO and COO have a very close relationship.
But just how close is this relationship?
What kind of relationship do the CEO and COO share exactly?
Well, the first thing you should know about the relationship between these two positions is that the COO is the CEO’s, right-hand man.
The CEO is the topmost executive in an organization, and the COO is right underneath them.
This makes the COO the second in command.
In some cases, the COO can also be the heir apparent.
When a COO occupies this role, it means that they would be the one to take over from the CEO once the CEO leaves the company.
An example of a real-life COO that was an heir apparent is Tim Cook.
He was initially Apple’s COO before he became the CEO in 2011.
The same happened with Pamela Nicholson of Enterprise Holdings and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft.
This is why the relationship between these two positions has to be as solid as possible.
The COO’s success is often determined by their relationship with the CEO.
Absolute trust is a necessary ingredient for the relationship between the CEO and COO to work.
The COO should also believe in the CEO’s vision.
The following are other ingredients that need to be present in the relationship between the CEO and COO for them to work seamlessly together.
The CEO should be able to give the COO enough attention for them to discuss the internal workings of the company.
They also need to communicate frequently so the CEO can share their visions and strategies with the COO.
However, this may not be possible during work hours because both parties may be busy with other things.
Therefore, the CEO and COO would have to spend time together during off-hours to ensure proper communication.
Absence of Unauthorized Access
If the company did not have a chief operating officer before now, some top executives had direct and unhindered access to the CEO.
But once someone occupies the chief operating officer position in the company, this direct access may not be there anymore.
Those who need to speak to the CEO have to first go through the COO.
If this hierarchy is to be maintained, the CEO and COO would have to work together to ensure it.
However, if the CEO keeps attending to those who get through to them via a back channel, they would be actively undermining the office of the COO.
This, as a result, could put a strain on their relationship.
Clear Distinction of Roles
The line between the COO and CEO positions is not quite solid.
Often, the roles of both offices may overlap.
In addition, in certain situations, like with a partner COO, both positions may share the same roles.
But unless in this situation, both parties should avoid an overlap of roles as much as possible.
This is because when this happens, it may cause misunderstandings that affect the relationship between both positions.
Therefore, there should be a clear distinction of roles from the very beginning.
Both parties should know who is responsible for what and who isn’t accountable for what.
When Should You Hire a COO – What is COO in Business
Not every company needs a chief operating officer.
If your company is still in its rising stage, you will likely not need to hire a COO.
This is because there may be a power struggle when there is a COO in a small organization.
At the rising stage, the organization is not large enough to accommodate two very powerful executives.
Employees may also have difficulty figuring out who to follow when the power shuffle begins.
So, it’s best to avoid this and not hire a COO until your company has reached the point where it needs a COO.
The following are some of the situations where a COO is necessary for an organization:
The CEO has a lot to handle and is becoming overwhelmed.
When a company grows to a particular point, the CEO may be unable to handle all its processes by themselves.
In this case, it would be a great idea to get someone who can carry out the daily running of the company.
The CEO is a visionary with many great strategies but needs help implementing them.
Some CEOs are great thinkers but may not have the skills to implement their ideas properly.
A chief operating officer would be a great addition to the organization in a case like this.
They would then be in charge of implementing the ideas and strategies of the CEO.
A COO serving in this capacity need to believe in the CEO’s vision and ideas firmly.
This is the only way that they can help them implement them.
If a company wants to embark on a new initiative or needs new inspiration, the CEO can hire a change agent COO.
They would be able to spearhead new initiatives and implement necessary changes.
Roles of a Chief Operating Officer – What is COO in Business
The responsibilities and roles of a chief operating officer typically differ from industry to industry.
In the same way, the roles differ from one company to the other.
And as you have already seen, there are different types of COOs, each serving specific roles.
Therefore, it is difficult to give a complete list of the roles and responsibilities of a chief operating officer.
However, despite these differences, there are certain responsibilities that all COOs, regardless of industry, company, and even type of COO, share.
For instance, all COOs share a close relationship with their CEOs.
It is this relationship that then informs and defines the role of the chief operating officer.
With that said, the following are some common responsibilities and roles of COOs.
- Oversees the daily operations of the company.
- Work closely with the CEO to ensure the company meets its goals and objectives.
- Serves as the link between the CEO and other high-level executives in the company.
- Design and execute new processes, initiatives, and strategies.
- Facilitates efficiency and productivity within the workforce by creating good policies to support them.
- Work with other C-suite executives to allocate the company’s resources and budget.
- Analyze the company’s performance and productivity, pinpoint areas where improvement is needed, and then facilitate the improvement.
- Communicate the company’s policies and strategies with the employees to ensure they align with them to improve their productivity.
Characteristics and Skills of a COO – What is COO in Business
Good chief operating officers often have certain characteristics and skills that make them good at their job.
If you are looking to hire a COO, you have to look for one with these characteristics.
This way, you would get a COO properly handling the position.
Below are 8 important skills that a good COO should possess.
The chief operating officer is the second most important executive in an organization.
This means that almost every executive, if not all, would report to the COO.
Therefore, the COO should be a good leader.
They should possess great leadership qualities to help them manage everybody under their authority.
A good COO should be able to motivate and inspire those following them.
The COO is in charge of the daily workings of the company, and they would often be at the helm of affairs.
Conflicts and misunderstandings become inevitable when people work together.
So, a COO should have great conflict resolution skills.
With this skill, they can resolve heated situations and ensure everybody in the workforce works harmoniously.
Another important skill that a chief operating officer should possess is excellent decision-making skills.
They would have to make important decisions almost daily.
This is why a COO need to know how to make timely and smart decisions.
So that the business operations can run smoothly.
A COO should be able to build and inspire an effective and productive team that would help them implement policies and strategies that they have to implement.
Communication skill is yet another skill that a chief operating officer must have.
This is because they would communicate the company’s policies, expectations, and objectives to the employees.
They also need great communication skills to keep the CEO updated on all the happenings within the organization.
A COO would spearhead several internal and external meetings.
They would have to give presentations to investors, clients, and any other party interested in working with the company.
So, it won’t do if the COO is shy and has public speaking anxiety.
You need to look out for a COO that can captivate and inspire people with words.
Critical Thinking – What is COO in Business
The COO would not just work at implementing the visions and objectives of the company.
From time to time, they would have to develop policies and strategies to help the company reach its goals.
This is why the COO has to be strategic and a critical thinker.
Interpersonal Relations – What is COO in Business
A good COO needs to have great interpersonal skills.
They need to have a good relationship with other executives and department leaders.
Conclusion on What is COO in Business
A COO is the second in command in any organization.
They are typically in charge of the daily processes within a company.
COOs work closely with CEOs to ensure the company meets its goals and objectives.
If you are looking to hire a COO in your company, you should look for the characteristics and skills listed in this article.
This way, you’d be sure of hiring someone that can handle the job satisfactorily.