The COO serves as the bridge between the CEO and the rest of the company, between thought and action, demonstrating both the business and people skills to get the right things done. Most COOs are happy to work behind the scenes on operations matters only, helping to drive the CEOs vision.
A recent article in Entrepreneur suggested asking employees if they could wrap up work and get on a plane in five hours as means of gauging effectiveness on the job.
The Hawaii Question encourages employees to see their productivity for themselves. As many organizations move away from the annual review to adopt more continuous feedback cycles, questions like this one could prompt the inner monologue that drives improvement.
Among Amazon’s leadership principles is a call for its team members to “Invent and Simplify”. Everyone in the company is expected to introduce process improvements that either enhance the customer experience or lower costs. But how?
Their work life has consisted of more recessions than the previous two generations. They’ve learned from Baby Boomers and are mentoring Millennials. And according to a recent study, the stress is exhausting them.
Workers are reporting higher than ever levels of exhaustion from work. The authors of the book The Happiness Track found that nearly half the workers interviewed for their book reported feeling burned out. And this exhaustion is creating isolation and loneliness in the workplace.
What does it really mean for employees to demonstrate ownership? Taking care of every detail? Stepping up to take blame and correct mistakes?
Amazon characterizes the best of employee ownership this way:
“Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”
The results of a recent Jobvite study of the workforce shows that one space where Americans are still somewhat unified is the workplace. The findings shed light on emerging trends and highlight some key areas where there are no surprises.
One key trend is that we are in the age of the “Hyper Hopper”—with job satisfaction rates on the decline (64% in 2017 vs. 74% in 2016), nearly half of job seekers are changing jobs at least every five years, particularly younger people, single people, and those who earn less than $25,000/year.
Amazon’s many financial and corporate accomplishments are almost too numerous to mention. A market cap twice its largest competitor – retail behemoth Walmart. 33% market share in all of eCommerce. Almost $150B in annual sales. Nearly $20B in operating cash flow.
These achievements are driven by a hard working culture guided by 14 leadership principles.
When was the last time you felt truly vulnerable at work? Are you a CEO who feels comfortable using the words “I don’t know” with your leadership team members? Have you shared some of your fears with them? Have you allowed yourself to be human?
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the annual summit of the Small Giants Community in Detroit. For two days, 150 leaders committed to growing a business with purpose grappled with topics such as culture hacking, open book management, and leading from the behind.
I recently read an interesting article in Talent Economy magazine about how Artificial Intelligence is being used to reduce / get rid of mundane administrative tasks that often fall on HR personnel. There are two areas where AI will make a big impact on HR in the future – Recruiting and Employee Benefits.
After reading a blog post by Dale Robinette (thanks Dale!), we realized that we gave our readers advice on how to hire a new Chief Operating Officer, but gave no advice on when it is time for your company to find a new one.
Here are a few thoughts on when to hire a COO:
1) If your current COO leaves, you need to find a replacement. Most businesses benefit from having a COO, and trying to run a business without an operations leader is a risk most business owners should not take.
John Lankford, author of “The Answer is Leadership” wrote, “Values and norms are the building blocks of a company’s culture. Some companies constantly reinforce their defining principles by displaying them in strategic areas of the building. Other businesses treat them less formally, but no less seriously. In either case, every business – and, often, every team – has its unique “rules of the game” that ultimately define the overall culture. Whether formally displayed or tacitly acknowledged, though, if management approaches those values and norms as an afterthought, doing little or nothing at all to articulate them – the result will be deleterious. It cannot be overstated that your company’s culture is a reflection of its management team – always.”
Reminiscent of its .com flopping predecessors, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy late last year after raising tens of millions in venture capital. It was a fantastic fall from grace for the company. Yet the brand of its founder Sophia Amoruso lives on - through her best selling book, a popular podcast, and a new Netflix TV series.
This divergence between company and founder success can teach entrepreneurial CEOs some important lessons:
Tom Billingsly never fashioned himself to be more of an entrepreneur than any other Tom, Dick or Harry.
Yes - he did have ideas all the time about new business to business and consumer solutions. For example, easily programmable electronic arms for mail carriers to hand deliver the mail to each resident — without ever leaving the comforts of their 1988 Ford Festivas. Since he loved to play ping-pong but rarely had a playmate - why not develop a high-tech paddle which, when combined with the Oculus VR, could deliver a night of table tennis fun?
A few months ago, I wrote about The Seven Roles of the COO, a topic that is often poorly understood or underestimated. I was amazed at the level of interest. I received thousands of views, hundreds of likes and a sizeable number of shares and comments. There were many COOs who raised their hands, confirming my belief that they tend not to be talked about or recognized and, when someone does focus on them, they get excited and willingly share what they do and why they do it.
I recently came across an article in Harvard Business Review that is as relevant today as it was when it was written over a decade ago. Titled Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer, the piece notes the “situational” nature of what the COO does. A person sitting in the COO chair may play many if not most of these roles during his / her tenure. The seven defining roles for the COO, based on his / her relationship with the Visionary CEO, are as follows:
There have been countless books written about very large corporations and the key to their success. There also are many books out there telling how to grow your business. The assumption in all these books is that you need to be growing to considered successful.
In Small Giants, Bo Burlingham refutes that idea by proposing that there are many companies that purposely choose to stay small, but are really successful organizations. They just use a different measure of success than traditional revenue growth.
Last week I had the good fortune to participate in a video conference call on the topic of how to build, sustain and nurture a thriving corporate culture. The real time “fishbowl” was led by Art Saxby and Tom McCrary, CEO and Managing Partner respectively of Chief Outsiders. Chief Outsiders offers seasoned Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to growth-oriented CEOs on a part time basis. Art and Tom are part of the Small Giants Community — organizations who are small in size yet giant in purpose — which hosted the gathering.
Traditional wisdom holds that companies grow on the shoulders of their salespeople. When starting out, usually the CEO plays that role. Then, over time, the company hires dedicated salespeople. Later, it often brings in a Sales Manager to oversee them.
But what if a company grew and grew and grew - without salespeople? When, if ever, would it need to hire them?
Less Than 3 of 5 View “Quality of Hire” as Most Important Recruiting Metric
No wonder recruiters rarely get the respect they desire. According to the 2016 survey by LinkedIn Talent Solutions. only 39% of recruiting managers say “Quality of Hire” is the single Most Valuable Metric (“MVM”) used to track recruiting team performance. That's fewer than two in five recruiters!