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:
- Must have clear chemistry with CEO
- Must be fully aligned to the vision of the CEO
- Willing to be in service to the CEO
- Trust and communication
- Clearly defined roles and decision rights (delegated authority)
- Lock on the back door (Meaning you will back up your COO to the team and vice versa)
4 Traits of the Best COOs
- Strategic with a focus on the details
- Focus on Talent Management
- No ego
Areas of value (300 C-suite execs interviewed)
- Optimizing operations performance
- Delivering significant cost efficiencies
- Executing transformation or change management projects
- Discovering and supporting growth opportunities for the business
- Ensuring effective risk management
- Managing functional departments
COO Value Chain
At what level do you need your COO to bring to your organization?
Level 1 - Execution
- Ensuring suitable operations management (Keeping the belts turning)
- Optimizing operational processes (Improving your turf)
Level 2 - Enablement
- Designing a framework to implement strategy into operations (Making the vision real)
- Managing the strategic assets of the company (Lining up the troops)
Level 3 - Development
- Driving key change and transformation initiatives (Business transformation / change agent)
- Shaping the future of the business (Bringing business model innovation)
7 Types of COOs
- The Executor (Executes your vision)
- The Change Agent (Master of change management)
- The Mentor (to a younger ceo)
- The Other Half (the compliment)
- The Partner (co-leader, Two in a box)
- The Heir Apparent (Successor to the CEO)
- The MVP (promoted to keep someone valuable)
Other Key Traits of a Great COO
- Deals well with complexity
- Mastery of change management
- Translate strategic vision into action; Bias toward action
- Building scale and capacity in rapid-growth markets with limited resources
- Implementing business transformation
- Dual focus on top-line growth and bottom-line performance
- Process management
- Extremely data-driven
- Works well and closely with CEOs and CFOs
- 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:
- Caveney, Andrew "The DNA of the COO" Ernst & Young, 2014.
- Bennett, Nathan and Miles, Stephen A. “Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer.” Harvard Business Review, 1 Aug. 2014.
- Gunjan Bhardwaj, Andreas Eisingerich, and Florian Täube "The Rise of the COO" Harvard Business Review, 9 Nov. 2011.
- Caldbeck, Ryan "4 Common Traits of the Best Chief Operating Officers" Entrepreneur, 4 April 2014.
- "Keith Rabois on the Role of a COO, How to Hire and Why Transparency Matters" First Round Review.
- "Chief operating officer" Wikipedia.
- Bercovici, Jeff "Inside the Mind of Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg" Inc., Dec. 2015.
- "Finding the Right COO Position" The Bridgespan Group.