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Looking For A COO? 10 Tactical Steps To Ensure You Hire The Right One

Chief operating officers (COOs) are important assets to every organization. This critical C-level role oversees the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of the business they serve, as well as manages departmental leaders under their areas of purview.

When it comes to hiring the right person for the role of COO, you may need to think beyond your normal hiring processes. To help, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared 10 tactical steps all companies should take to ensure they hire the best COO for their team.

1. Write A Clear Job Description 

Write a clear job description with measurable outcomes. The first time I hired a COO, I failed to clearly measure what aspects I was looking for, which negatively impacted our culture. Once I got more clear with what aspects within operations I needed to be done and to what degree, I set our company up for success. I have five maximum outcomes (all measurable) expected for this and all company roles. – Libby Rothschild, Libby Rothschild

2. Ask Candidates How They Envision Creating Value

Companies should ask COO candidates how they envision their operational strategy will create value. Operations are often incorrectly viewed as strictly a cost center, which removes the potential for innovation and process improvements. A quality COO will craft and execute an operational plan that creates immediate benefits to your customers and that is also designed to be scaled and improved upon. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports

3. Test Their Problem-Solving Abilities

It’s important for a COO to be an inquisitive problem solver. During the interview process, make sure to test the candidate’s problem-solving ability. Ask questions that will show you how they handle unexpected challenges. This role will be handling the day-to-day running of your business, so it’s important that they are able to handle problems effectively and be a go-to resource for other team members. – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

4. Do Your Research

When hiring a COO for the team, it’s important to do your research about the qualities you want them to have, including their experience, expertise and skills. If you know what you’re looking for, it makes it much easier to spot the right candidate for your new COO. You can ask the appropriate questions and gauge their behavior to see if they’d be a good fit. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

5. Revisit Your Company Values And Mission Statement

Before you hire a COO, it’s important to determine the key KPIs that drive company performance and re-review your company values and mission statement. Once you do this, a new potential COO should be measured culturally by the values and mission statement. In addition, the COO should be provided very clear insight into the business and KPIs they will be driving. Transparency before hiring ensures success. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC

6. Look For The Right Qualities

COOs need to be able to keep at the forefront and not waver in the face of the unexpected. The best way to ensure you have the best hire is to make sure they have the qualities that match the position. A good COO is strategic, collaborative and ready to handle the burden that comes with the title. The goal is to work with what’s happening now while planning for several years down the line. – Matt Bertram, EWR Digital

7. Think About Your Company’s Needs

While you obviously want someone in charge of your day-to-day operations who can think independently and take initiative, the best step you can take to hire someone who is the right fit is to be clear with your goals for their role. If this is your first time hiring for a COO, you must consider what aspects of operations you need fulfilled and how you imagine them to be completed. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Consider Hiring Internally

The COO role is hard to fill. You need someone who can oversee company operations, support organizational culture and maintain strong relationships with other executives. That’s why I suggest hiring internally for the COO role whenever possible. In fact, I ended up taking on the COO role at my company. Founders are uniquely suited to be COOs—so maybe you belong in that seat. – Miles Jennings,

9. Ensure They Think ‘Big Picture’

A company must ensure that the COO sees and acts with the big picture and end goals of the company in mind. The COO must understand each department of the company and how they contribute to each other, as well as how to create cooperation and foster synergy within the company. The COO must also be aware of the KPIs a company has and ensure continuous improvement of KPIs. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC

10. Make Sure They’re a People Person

This role is highly analytical but also requires getting along with people and understanding the culture and dynamics of a company. Being a people person is more than just casually asking questions of other people. It is much more about understanding where a person is coming from, empathy and using that information in decision-making. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

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