Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chief Operating Officer (COO) Core Competencies

There are many books and articles written about CEOs, their responsibilities and what they need to do to be successful. We have published a number of these articles here based on personal experience as a CEO. However, despite the critical role that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) plays in company operation, there are very few articles written about them. As Director of the East Bay Northern California Chapter of the COO Business Forum, I have become intimately acquainted with COOs who are very effective in what they do. This purpose of this article is share some of the insights that have been gleaned from interactions with COOs and some of the articles that have been found.

The COO position entails running the day-to-day business operations of the company, freeing up the CEO to fulfill responsibilities as specified by the Board of Directors. In functional respects, the COO will be a vital member of the CEOs core staff, working with the CEO to develop and implement Company’s long-term strategy. The COO will also interact extensively with department heads to provide leadership and direction for all business activities and will be responsible for all major operational decisions. In many companies, the COO is responsible for making the numbers via the business units.

1. Vision: With the CEO, the COO leads strategic, long-term planning, vision and goal-setting using the ability to “look around corners” to anticipate future opportunities or problems. They take strategic and pre-emptive action.

2. Develop and Leverage Relationships: Possesses exceptional relationship-building and interpersonal skills, since diverse functions report to them and the smooth interworking is critical. High emotional and social intelligence makes the COO function more effectively.

3. Communication: Communicates passionately, effectively, and persuasively across a diverse set of stakeholders. The COO must also be able to create processes and structures to facilitate effective communication both internally and externally.

4. Building and Managing Teams: Inspires, motivates, coaches, and develops others. Listens well and continuously learns and seeks advice and feedback from others.

5. Results Oriented: Relentlessly pursues improvement and results. Flexible, with a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit to accommodate high level of responsibility and multiple priorities. Creates a culture of mutual accountability.

6. Analytical Skill: Analyzes and problem solves at highly developed level. Outstanding organizational skills and high attention to detail are critical to success.

7 Management style: Demonstrates an ability to manage conflict, build consensus, and facilitate problem-solving and collaboration among various parties.

• Advise the CEO on strategic business development and key corporate planning issues and make recommendations on major business decisions.
• General oversight of all operational and business functions, including manufacturing, research and development and regulatory affairs administration and operations.
• Keep the CEO informed about business activities, potential threats, opportunities, and recommended actions.
• Follow-up on decisions made in management meetings and ensure proper execution.
• Take charge in high-priority crises of an operational nature.
• Shape and develop department strategy and organization. Ensure proper staffing and report structure within departments. Help determine resource allocation among departments. Facilitate resolution of issues between departments.
• Encourage managers to evaluate and take actions that are consistent with company’s overall strategy which will lead to high performance. Challenge basic assumptions underlying each department’s operation. Act as a sounding board for department managers.
• Set performance goals which are tailored to each department. Develop operational goals for each department which are aggressive and tied to long-term goals.
• Monitor department performance against performance goals to ensure that progress is being made and collective action, if necessary, is taken. Ensure adherence to annual budgets.
• Lead program to build organizational capabilities. Develop a group of well-rounded, capable managers in each department.
• Institute processes that facilitate effective and efficient work flow.
• Travel, as required, to customer locations, supplier facilities and other executive matters.

The COO's job is quite extensive and good ones make the CEO's life much more pleasant and the company much more profitable.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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