How Do Identify and Bring In A COO? Five Suggestions

Situation: A company’s Board is pressing the CEO to hire a COO to oversee operations. The Board’s concerns include succession planning for the CEO and a desire for the CEO to put more focus on the vision and strategy of the company. There are no current candidates within the company. How do you identify and bring in a COO?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Think beyond roles and responsibilities and consider how you would describe the ideal candidate. This includes attitudes and behaviors, talents, experience, and essential skills. Map these attributes and use them to guide your recruitment and selection process.
  • Increasingly, companies are using a values-based process to evaluate personnel both for promotion and outside selection. Tony Hsieh of Zappos talks about this in his book “Delivering Happiness.” This doesn’t substitute for skills and experience, but helps to identify candidates who will help to strengthen your company’s culture.
  • Assure that you have a full process in place that will help you to recruit and select a good candidate. If it has been a while since you last recruited a high level executive, consider securing outside resources to assist. One of the CEOs even hires a 2nd expert to vet the recommendations of the primary expert.
  • Where can you look for good candidates?
    • Talk to your key vendors about who is really good in the industry. Look for a high potential individual in another company who doesn’t have room to grow in their current situation.
    • Also look at related industries where there will be cross-over knowledge and skills.
    • Don’t overlook the military. Talented officers are regularly rotating out of the services – people who have exceptional experience leading and motivating people.
  • On-boarding a new senior executive is different from a lower level employee. If you choose the right individual and they fit your culture, this will ease the process. Be aware that some of your current senior employees will likely be upset that they were passed over and may be difficult. If you haven’t done this in some time, it is worthwhile to secure counsel on the best ways to bring a new COO on-board.

Key Words: COO, Operations, Succession, Candidate, Role, Responsibilities, Attitude, Behavior, Experience, Values, Process, On-Boarding

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