Coo Roles And Structures

chief operating officer meaning

The reason falls here is because the CEO has to see the bigger picture from a different angle where other people might not be thinking. The COO title comprises a more complex and demanding role than ever before. Emerging industry trends and shifting responsibilities also make it an incredibly ambiguous one. In some organizations, the COO may still be tasked with the traditional role of exclusively handling all back-office functions, while others see it as a proving ledger account ground for potential CEOs. Because of this increasingly common corporate dynamic, companies are having to rely more on other executives to build the necessary foundations, structures, and processes required for an organization to be successful. The COO is usually the CEO’s second-in-command and reports directly to them. Often, the COO handles the company’s internal operations while the CEO is the public face of the company and reports to the board of directors.

chief operating officer meaning

It’s simply a concession to the complexity and scope of the CEO’s job today, with its numerous external commitments. Managing large, often global, enterprises sometimes requires two sets of hands; in such cases, the COO typically takes responsibility for delivering results on a day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter basis. 1- Since before hiring any person for the COO’s position, there is a set of responsibilities that the COO has to do after joining the company. Still, the Chief Operating Officer’s duties do not remain limited to the set of responsibilities as claimed.

Chief Operating Officer Salary

If we want to explain the difference between CEO and COO in one sentence, we’d say that CEOs are in charge of where the company is going, while COOs are in charge of how the company will get there. In other words, the CEO has a vision for the company and the COO executes it.

chief operating officer meaning

If you believe you have the work experience and educational background for the position, read COO job descriptions and highlight relevant work experience that can qualify you. Gearing your resume in this way can also reveal other areas in which you may need to broaden your experience before applying for COO jobs. Chief executives often travel to conferences, meetings, and different business units of their company. Companies often hire COOs to oversee all areas of their operations, from research and production to marketing, sales, and more. So, while the CEO looks outward at where the company can be, the market, and the competition, the COO looks inward at where the company is, its biggest assets, and how to maximize its strengths. Meanwhile, other companies may hire COOs simply to stand in as partners to the CEOs — a very advanced helping hand, if you will. Whether they work at large enterprises or small ones, aspiring professionals often find that an MBA can help set them on the path to executive leadership at the highest levels.

Examples Of ‘chief Operating Officer’ In A Sentence

While the COO is often considered second in command, the standing really depends on the nature and inner-workings of the company. All C-suite executives are the most senior-level managers in their area of expertise, and often, these executives are peers. Many companies also combine the COO role recording transactions with another C-level function. For example, the COO might also be responsible for marketing efforts. Ultimately, the responsibility for creating plans and strategy for growth, communicating with stakeholders, investors, and the public, and making major decisions rests on her shoulders.

  • It is prevented from doing so, perhaps, because it is so misunderstood.
  • The evolution of today’s market brings a profound change in large organizations in the areas of innovation, digitization, strategy, and ethics, creating opportunities for expansion of the C-suite to address the challenges.
  • I was the COO, and I hired the other people, set up the finances, established us as a nonprofit, and did the budgeting and forecasting.
  • They provide leadership and management to help the company reach its goals.
  • As chief operating officer he has responsibility for the day-to-day running of the organization, as well as overseeing special projects.
  • An interim COO oversees vendors, partners, and business process outsourcing , while ensuring contracted third-party service providers and vendor partnerships are beneficial to operations.

Simply put, COOs today must be able to handle all of the traditional operational responsibilities while meaningfully leading a company’s most important strategic initiatives. COOs today have to handle all the traditional operational responsibilities while meaningfully leading a company’s strategic initiatives. The VP of People will oversee the end-to-end employee experience at their company. They may also be known by other job titles, such as VP of Human Resources, Head of People, or Director of Human Resources. COOs must have great communication skills, both in communicating with other executives and when communicating with the teams and departments they oversee. They need to be able to build consensus among internal stakeholders, mediate conflict, and negotiate.

Chief Operating Officer Coo

It was good for me to do some external work, and Wendy didn’t want to be removed from the internal side; a good ED can’t just be the external face. Creating the COO position freed her up to do more external work but also to be more strategic about how she involved herself internally. I ran the teams and made sure everything was happening the way it should, so she had flexibility about what she managed internally, and when. For example, if we were struggling with recruitment, she would delve into that deeply and go talk to people and figure out the recruitment strategy, and she could do that without being pulled in too many directions. Eventually we started to articulate the roles as the ED is the vision and strategic direction, values, and goals , and the COO’s job is to make sure we meet the goals. In addition to me, he has a chief program officer, a chief people-development officer, and a chief knowledge officer.

Jon also oversees the director of development, the person who develops new city relationships and other external partnerships, and the chief of staff. We are still making a lot of changes; we haven’t yet found a structure we feel fully comfortable with. We have looked at having three chief officers reporting to Jon, but each would have a huge portfolio. The chief executive officer position is the highest-level chief operating officer meaning C-suite role in a company and the highest paid. CEOs are responsible for maximizing business value by setting the vision, long-term goals, framework, and direction of the organization. For Example, Company A is considering entering a new field of business. As such, the role of the CEO is to analyze the long term result of the decision and gauge if the venture would be worth entertaining or not.

This evolution of the CFO role may encourage individuals seeking entry into the C-suite to pursue an MBA degree. COOs take the CEO’s vision for the company and turn it into an executable business plan. They oversee all operations and ensure that teams work toward achieving the business goals. CEOs formulate business objectives and make strategic decisions (e.g. expansion in a new market or development of a new product). In light of these trends, it’s surprising that COOs are not more common. Our suspicion is that they would be if there were less variability and confusion surrounding the role. As we continue to demystify the role of the COO, more companies will benefit from more effective leadership.

An interim or outsourced COO can optimize or set up the Program Management Office . A COO will first assess an organization, making sure standards are in place to run projects, and ensuring programs are in alignment with business goals, requirements, and compliance. With a broad, yet intimate view of departmental functions a COO can increase program effectiveness and efficiency. An Interim COO will improve all areas of the business from operations to finance, marketing, product development and technology. The industry experience the COO offers helps keep broad visionary ideas in check based on what realistically can or can’t be done within the company. The COO provides the required insight as to how things get done, while the CEO is free to brainstorm about how they might get done more effectively.

This is where the COO position comes, and a person for that position gets hired. Eventually, if the company gets too big, she will need to choose whether she is critical to operations or more critical to the big picture strategy. Let’s say that we have the example of some IT-based companies like the smaller ones. The workload might not be enough to get the other positions to be made, and for that, only one or two people can handle a lot of the work.

The priority list of an interim chief operating officer depends on the individual company stage and circumstances. No matter the stage, an Interim COO is ready to hit the ground running. In general, the COO looks at the vision of the company defined in the business plan and elaborated on.

chief operating officer meaning

Senior management participates in the development of strategy, while investors approve business plans. However, it is the Chief Executive Officer who ultimately sets the direction. The Chief Executive Officer of a company or organization is its highest-ranking executive manager. Technology or IT-driven companies retained earnings are somehow the exceptions in his regard since Mark Zuckerberg sets a big example as he developed Facebook. He is the sole owner of the company to take the process into his hands, whereas the other things except for the technology development are in Sheryl Sandberg, who is the COO of the company.

Seven Kinds Of Coo

Look for jobs in companies that allow you to move around and gain experience in different departments, or companies that have a management-training track that helps you gain more exposure to all of the company’s various operations. The COO role is a key member of the senior management team, reporting only to the Chief Executive Officer .

Chief Executive Officer

On their part, COOs will make strategic decisions and establish company procedures once they get input from CEOs regarding bigger picture plans and shareholders’ perspectives. Today, we have bigger companies, with expanding global operations, aggressively pursuing acquisitions. Second, companies are becoming more deliberate about succession planning. Boards are anxious to identify and groom heirs and often see the COO title as a useful step in the process. Finally, the easy mobility of top talent means companies must find ways to hold on to their most valuable non-CEO executives. Certainly, being identified as a likely heir does not represent anything approaching a guarantee. On the one hand, an otherwise valuable senior executive may leave if the top job ultimately goes to someone else—or isn’t offered soon enough.

On the other hand, the COO’s performance can indicate that the heir title was inappropriately or prematurely bestowed. In the past few years, we’ve seen several prominent COOs who seemed to be on the glide path to the CEO’s office instead leave their companies; they include John Brock , Mike Zafirovski , John Walter (AT&T), and Robert Willumstad . Regardless of whether each left because he was passed over for the CEO position, because the timing was not as advertised, or because he found greener pastures, the succession plan unraveled. A COO is the CEO’s right-hand person and the second-highest in command at a firm. The COO is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a firm and for assisting the CEO in a variety of tasks.

How To Become A Chief Operating Officer Coo

But it’s probably true that, just as there are doubles specialists in tennis, only some executives are more effective when paired. In any case, Michael Dell and Kevin Rollins, whom Dell introduced as COO in 1996, seem to operate in this mode.

Skills required to be a COO include strong analytical, managerial, communication, and leadership skills. One of the biggest ones is a lack of trust, which can lead to discord, strife, and friction.


The roles and responsibilities of a COO vary wildly depending on the startup they work for and how the organization chooses to define the position. There are a couple of reasons for CEOs thinking they don’t need COOs. Sometimes, the chief executive feels he needs to be as close as possible to the business’s beating heart, and a COO would interfere with that.

Geef een antwoord

Het e-mailadres wordt niet gepubliceerd. Vereiste velden zijn gemarkeerd met *