3 Concepts to Keep in Mind When Becoming a COO
Avoid common mistakes when taking on this high-level position.
Part of becoming a successful chief operations officer (COO) is moving past your mistakes. I have often found that you must get out of your comfort zone and submit yourself to the process. Whether it's overseeing your workers, learning more about what your employees’ jobs entail, or going that extra mile to score the ideal team member, it is all a learning process.
These are the top three areas where I understood, early on, that I could do better when I began my career as the COO of a $30 million company. A few simple tweaks in your approach will certainly make a difference in the workplace.
1. Don't focus too much on day-to-day operations.
Becoming the COO of a company that was on an upward growth trajectory was exciting. Having a large workload and passionate customer service and sales staff to handle was a dream. However, the temptation to get lost in the day-to-day is right in front of you. It is common for entrepreneurs to oversee their operations. But the correct role to play is being a leader, not a micro-manager.
To do better for your corporation, you have to focus on a higher level. Look at what drives not only your team, but yourself. Become articulate about your business plan and inspire your employees to develop skills that allow your company to flourish. Continue to learn what is going on within your company while providing your employees with a platform to succeed. This attitude will create a productive and positive workforce.
2. Stay grounded.
While it is pertinent to master the understanding of the business, it is equally important to continue learning. Get comfortable asking people questions in areas you are not as knowledgeable about. By doing so, you can further support your employees.
You may also want to schedule some time to learn the workflow, operating side-by-side with your team, so you can encounter first-hand what it takes to run the organization. Staff meetings can also be a great learning experience. Try to schedule a conference with your team regularly. You can even ask others, “What have you learned lately?” It will give them a chance to shine as they express their ideas, challenges and concerns.
3. Hiring slow means hiring smart.
One of the biggest mistakes a new COO can make is hiring the wrong person for the team. Keeping an incompetent or a negative employee around is detrimental to the workplace at large. When an employee is struggling through their day, or they do not want to be at their job, it demoralizes the rest of the staff. An employee who is not up to par may slow others down since they must pick up the slack. The overall culture of the office can be destroyed by one bad worker. Firing someone who is not doing their job is an uncomfortable situation. However, you can avoid that by taking your time in the hiring process.
Before the interview, understand what is needed to do the job efficiently. Ask yourself, what type of personality would fit in with the culture of the company? What are the job qualifications? How much experience and education is needed for this position? Are physical tasks, such as lifting and cleaning, involved? But most importantly: How well can a potential hire fit in with the company?
Share an outline of the job description with potential hires. Let them know what they will be taking on and ask if they have any questions or concerns.
When recruiting employees, do not stop at the classifieds or LinkedIn. Be sure to tap into your network of professionals as well. The more people you tell about the job opening, the higher your chances are of scoring the ideal employee. By taking your time in the hiring process, you will save time in the long run by not having to “re-hire.” Having the right people in the right seats will help your business grow. And you, as a successful COO, will have time to put more emphasis on other endeavors.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor