“What’s in a name?”
That’s the line uttered by Juliet in William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo and Juliet. She was opining that a name is just that, a convention with no meaning behind it. While it might sound deep and poignant at first glance, keep in mind, Juliet was just a 13-year-old girl.
Fast forward four hundred odd years and things have definitely changed. Corporate America is seemingly obsessed with names and fancy titles. There are more acronyms, corporate jargon and shiny position titles than ever before.
One such title is that of the COO, and it’s played a massive role in shaping Corporate America.
In today’s blog, we’re discussing why the title of COO has played a huge role in corporate America.
IT’S IN THE TITLE
In business, each department plays an integral step in a process that leads to the creation of the goods and services being sold. For this process to run smoothly, departments need to be able to work in unison on a constant basis. While most executives have reached a certain level of mastery in how their specific function operates, on most occasions their knowledge is strictly limited to that area and they do not understand how the departments work together to create a supply chain that delivers a finished product to clients.
Introducing the Chief Operating Officer or COO, a role that requires decades of industry experience, an intimate knowledge of company structure and an understanding of how every arm of the business needs to interact in order to be profitable.
Its definitely not a role that everyone can perform, yet when a company has a competent and motivated COO on board, some truly remarkable things can happen.
Another reason that the title of COO has made an impact on corporate America is the skill level required to be successful at it. Did you know that on average, COO’s have 13-15 years industry experience before entering the position, and great ones have as much as 20 years before starting the job?
This is precisely why you don’t see a lot of COO’s out there, that level experience is hard to come by in the corporate world. Being a COO requires a special mix of both strategic and administrative skills, interdepartmental knowledge and the ability to embrace change and implement new ideas. A COO is expected to look at the past and forecast future trends and needs for production based on their industry experience and analytical abilities.
There’s a good chance that the COO is the most experienced person at the company.
It’s no secret that COO’s work hard and have a lot of responsibility running the day-to-day affairs of a company, but they are also very well compensated for it. Did you know that on average, a COO is making anywhere from 200,000 – 700,000 dollars a year?
For an expense as large as a COO, there are many factors a company needs to take into consideration. How large is the company? Is there enough revenue and cash flow to afford another C-level executive? How much would a new COO improve the bottom line?
In smaller companies, the CEO will perform the duties of a COO in addition to their own to save money. But as the business grows and their time becomes stretched between strategic development and the day-to-day running of the company, an extra set of hands is needed.
In this way, adding a COO to your business represents a certain level of success.
In the world of business, it comes as no surprise that COOs are natural born leaders.
With operations consisting of so many moving parts, departments and employees, leadership becomes an absolute requirement for the position. What makes the role so important is that these leadership qualities have been picked up over years of working in the industry, training, and owning their own businesses. There are very few courses or training material available to become a COO because the requirements of the position are so varied and unique to each specific business.
This makes the role even more specialized and ensures that the top end of the corporate ladder stays both competitive and competent.
THEY’RE OFTEN THE NEXT C.E.O.
In politics, it is often the vice president who replaces the president when their term is up. In business, the COO is in most cases considered the vice president, and are the only other executive working in tandem with the C.E.O.
While the CEO spends their days dreaming up new and ambitious ways to grow the company, it’s up to the COO to make his boss’s dreams a reality. But he’s more than just a glorified PA to the CEO.
Being the CEO’s right-hand man means the COO gets on-the-job training for the role he will one day assume.
THEY’RE PEOPLE WHO GETS THINGS DONE
THE CEO is the ideas man. Plain and simple. He’s the one to talk to when the question is, “OK, what next?”
On the other hand, the COO is the CEO’s hands and feet, the man on the ground who gets things done. CEOs tend to think big picture, and their plans often are missing any kind of granular detail. So, it’s up to the COO to fill in the blanks, work out a plan and put these plans into motion.
This arrangement has shaped the modern corporate workflow, giving operational oversight to the most experienced executive while freeing up the CEO to come up with their next big idea.
THEY CAN BE A SAVING GRACE
Sometimes things just don’t align for a business; whether it’s marketing, production, logistics or a badly executed marketing campaign. These failures can often call for a complete restructure and overhaul of how you do business.
When overhauls happen, there’s a high chance that the company will bring in a new COO to oversee this radical change.
It’s this fresh set of eyes and the fact that this new COO isn’t emotionally invested yet that makes them the ideal person to facilitate the overhaul.
The fact is, rebuilds happen, and when they do it is important to have a COO that can identify the issue that is causing the problem. The COO can then develop a strategy that will optimize the work flow and then implement the new processes in order to move the company in the right direction.
One famous example is with COO Robert Fornaro who helped transform Airtran, who was at the time, “running on fumes.”
A TEAM PLAYER
With all the different departments involved in successfully operating a business, it’s no surprise that the COO would have to be a team player. One of the most important duties a COO has is making sure that the different departments in a company are operating in synch with each other.
If you’ve ever sat in on a board meeting, you’ll know that bold ideas and strong personalities cause friction and conflict. A COO without the ability to communicate, empathize and negotiate will ultimately fail.
The role of a COO is equal parts strategic and administrative, requiring laser focus and attention to detail in all areas of operations. Ever since the roles and responsibilities of a COO split from the CEO, we’ve continued to see increased productivity and efficiency in business that have a COO on board.
But if hiring a COO isn’t something that’s in your budget, hiring a consultant may still be in your best interest! As business consultants and COOs, we work with entrepreneurs every day to set them up for success by identifying where their business is suffering. We help them pinpoint which processes to re-evaluate and adjust to grow their business. And best yet… We offer hassle-free, no obligation 30-minute discovery calls to see how we could help you. Just email us today.
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