Jun 12, 2018

5 Signs it is Time to Hire a COO

If you are the CEO or founder of an emerging growth company, it may not be clear when exactly you need to hire a Chief Operating Officer (COO).

More likely than not many different staff members have been handling the duties of a COO: Overseeing operations, making sure sales and marketing are in sync, delivering regular financial reports to the CFO.

Five Signs it is Time to Hire a COO:

  1. People issues are present
  2. Growth has stopped or slowed
  3. Time is limited
  4. Lack of execution
  5. Profits are down

People issues are present

You find that you have too many direct reports and managing them takes you away from your long-range planning and visionary work.

Growth has stopped or slowed

If you find that you don’t have anyone who is a peer and with whom you can brainstorm ideas – someone who has the aerial view of the company that you have.

Time is limited

If you, the CEO, find that you have too much on your plate and are finding it hard to delegate, or to meet expectations of your investors, customers, and staff.

Lack of execution

Your team includes a lot of innovators and creators, but you need practical executives who will get the job done.

Profits are down

Investors are questioning your financial decisions and second-guessing your sales targets.

As CEO you want to keep up with the demands of your business and make sure that your stakeholders: investors, customers, analysts, are happy.  Find out how hiring a Chief Operating Officer can help you reach your business goals today.

Qualifying Your COO Candidates

If your company has recognized some of the signs above and you believe that now is the right time to hire a COO, here are some of the qualities you want to seek:

  • If selecting an outside candidate, make sure he or she understands the company, product, and culture
  • Interview the candidates for chemistry with you and your team
  • Talk to people from the candidates’ former employer
  • Interview really smart people
  • Look for evidence of learning ability

In addition, you can review an article we published in the past, The Seven Roles of the COO to help identify which COO work style will be best for your organization.

Build Your Dream Team

Part of the importance of building a great team is cultivating the future leaders who will carry on the business that you began.  You cannot reach your goals alone. The right COO will be your partner, your co-pilot, your teammate who will both support you and ease the burdens of your position.

  • The smaller your company, the more important it is that you hire a COO with whom you can collaborate well, whom you trust implicitly, and who is dedicated to your firm’s growth and success
  • Look for a COO who has experience in your industry, so he or she understands the market and its constraints, and does not have to undergo a long learning process for this critical aspect of the position
  • Hire a COO who likes working with people, who understands them and is patient
  • Hire a good communicator 

Spend more time ON rather than IN the business

Once you have developed your short list of candidates for COO, let the other executives with whom this person will work interview him, too.  Make sure that you do not make a decision in a vacuum, but that your co-workers feel an affinity with the finalist and can envision this person in your company.

The relationship between a CEO and COO are vital to the business. Peter Kozodoy, partner and chief strategy officer of GEM Advertising, wrote in Inc. magazine about his experience with “second-in-command” executives.  “At one of my first jobs in high school I rose to become the second-in-command, and did my best to take tasks off the owner’s plate….that owner is now my business partner in two of my companies,” Kozodoy said, acknowledging the closeness of that relationship.

In these two companies, Kozodoy and his partner both “now have a second-in-command.  He has allowed us the freedom to do what we each do best, consequently growing our largest company by more than 400% over the past three years.” 

If you believe it’s time for you to let someone else take on tasks and projects that have been weighing you down from moving forward, it might be time for you to hire a COO. For more information on how we can help you hire your dream operations leader, give us a call today.

Next Step:

Check out our Abridged Guide to Hiring a Chief Operating Officer, containing top considerations for CEOs and Business Owners when hiring a COO.

The Abridged Guide to Hiring a COO


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