As a business owner or CEO, you may find yourself struggling to fill different roles and wondering how you’re supposed to manage your time between working on the business, and working in the business.
If this is the case, you might need a Director of Operations to take some of the workload off your plate.
In this blog, we’re discussing the different roles of a Director of Operations.
At some point during a business’ growth, the workload placed on senior executives can start to become overwhelming. Even with a CEO delegating operational oversight to their COO, they too can start to feel the pressure of managing an ever-expanding enterprise.
Its at this moment that bringing on a Director of Operations can be a game-changer.
WHAT IS A DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS?
A Director of Operations takes over many of the functions of a COO once brought on board. While the COO retains a high-level overview of the company’s operations, their role tends to shift back towards being the executive link to the CEO.
The COO’s job is to develop strategies to bring about the CEO’s vision. It’s the Director of Operation’s job to now put those strategies into place.
So, with this new dynamic installed in your senior leadership team, what are the roles that this Director of Operations has to fulfil?
WHAT ARE THE ROLES OF A DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS?
1. THE SYNERGIST
The difference between a Director of Operations and other senior executives often comes down to one thing. Focus. While other executives maintain tunnel-vision on the strategic, operational and tactical requirements of their specific function, a Director of Operations focuses on the overall synergy of the company.
The director has a sound understanding of how every function works strategically, operationally and logistically. It is the Director of Operations responsibility to understand the company’s strategic business plans and be able to pair them with the business operating systems, operating models and organizational structures being used. By understanding that a business is a system of systems that need to operate in unison in order to create a product that is greater than the sum of its parts, the Director of Operations is able to execute the vision and direction laid out by the CEO.
2. THE EXECUTOR
It’s a role that sounds a lot scarier than it actually is, but thankfully, actual terminations are done via HR these days.
The executor refers to the man, or woman, who can make the tough calls and get things done. They’re often looked to in a crisis or when uncomfortable truths have to be pointed out. That person is often the Director of Operations and it’s their job to get involved, make difficult decisions, steady the ship and ensure things are running well on a day-to-day basis.
Whenever a large corporation makes the difficult decision to trim its workforce and restructure its processes, it’s the Director of Operations that has to break the bad news to the newly redundant staff. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
The Director of Operations is uncompromising and often has the reputation to match.
3. THE IMPLEMENTER
It’s no secret that in business, the goal posts are constantly moving. New targets are constantly being set, and innovative ideas are always being developed. But with these new ambitious strategies, who's going to implement them? You guessed it, the Director of Operations.
It’s their role to change processes, restructure departments and implement the strategies that will take the company into its next phase. And sometimes, a company needs to completely change the direction they are heading. A Director of Operations is instrumental in driving this pivot from the ground up.
4. THE MENTOR
An experienced Director of Operations can often fill the role of a mentor, especially amongst other senior executives and department heads below them. While the Director of Operations is often more junior than the COO, they still have a vast amount of operational experience and wisdom to impart on their colleagues.
Their bird’s-eye-view of the company affords a unique perspective and they’ve got a lot to offer in coaching leadership, management skills and strategy development
Part of their effectiveness in mentorship comes down to how they connect with their colleagues. Directors of Operations are master communicators, so if you want your team to understand something, the best teacher is your DOO.
5. THE MANAGER’S MANAGER
With all the tasks that comes with overseeing every aspect of your company’s operations, one of the most crucial is executive management.
An experienced Director of Operations understands this, and has a direct hand in the executive recruitment process. For your business to run efficiently and profitably, the right leaders must be hired and placed appropriately throughout the company.
But it’s also the role of a Director of Operations to lead department heads and other managers. While it’s one thing to be a people person, managing other managers is definitely no walk in the park. If you’ve ever been to a manager’s or senior leadership meeting, you’ll know it can be a clash of egos when disagreements arise. A Director of Operations, while firm, has to have the soft skills to both motivate and manage their direct reports.
By starting with management, the Director of Operations is ensuring that all staff are appropriately supported, mentored and managed from day one.
6. THE JUNIOR COO
Many times, a business’ COO is next in line for the throne, the “heir apparent” to the CEO when they move on. As it stands, there is a line of succession that passes more than just one jump from the CEO.
You could say the Director of Operations is a “Junior COO” or “COO in waiting”. When that shift happens and the COO is promoted to CEO, guess who takes their place? After all, a Director of Operations was brought on board to lighten the workload of the COO, who better understands operations that the former director of them?
7. THE MVP
Every company has an employee that is too valuable to lose, especially to another company. In the corporate world, there’s a good chance it’s the Director of Operations.
Intricate operational knowledge, extensive product understanding and a great relationship with staff and leadership. They bring a wealth of experience, brand loyalty and commitment to your business that money just can’t buy.
The duties and roles filled by a Director of Operations seem never-ending, which speaks to the overall importance of the position itself in the business world. If you are truly looking to scale your business and take things to the next level, hiring an experienced Director of Operations would be a good place to start. Having someone who understands the strategic way functions work in unison to deliver a product will not only make the work flow more fluent, but also give you the freedom to work on your business, instead of in it.
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