Broadly speaking, a Chief Operating Officer (COO) is the second in command of a private of publicly held for-profit corporation, and functions as senior member of the Board of Directors. A COO will report directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and they are also known by alternative titles such as President, in which case they report directly to the Chairman, or Director of Operations. They are chiefly concerned with implementing policies and procedures in order to meet the goals set by the CEO, Chairman and Board itself, and will sometimes set goals themselves.
The Role of a Chief Operating Officer
Because Chief Operating Officers at different companies and organisations have different roles determined by the industry, sector and size of the organisation they work in, the term COO doesn’t in itself define specific responsibilities beyond being a senior member of the board. Generally speaking, the board itself will set targets, goals and policies, and the COO will be charged with implementing them through over-seeing the day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter running of a business.
As a senior leadership role, Chief Operating Officers are also responsible for maintaining, adjusting and improving the corporation’s structural organisation. This will include everything from ensuring the correct HR policies are being implemented by the administrative team, including recruitment and staff and team development, to promotion, demotion and termination of employees, alongside being the key representative and spokesperson for the company’s vision and strategy.
Five Key Responsibilities of a Chief Operating Officer
- Improving company inventory
- Improving working capital management
- Increasing return on investment
- Enhancing product lifecycle
- Enhancing manufacturing capacity
Chief Operating Officer’s are widely regarded as having one of the toughest, if not the toughest, roles in the running of a company, and these five key tasks will likely be broken down into a many different activities and duties. They work at ground level, getting their hands dirty through actually implementing the measures prescribed by the board as a whole, on behalf of the company’s shareholders, while also being a senior member of the board themselves. The board places the onus of success is placed largely on the COO’s shoulders.
Five Key Duties of a Chief Operating Officer
- Plan, organise and implement the company’s annual budget
- Raise funds and generate revenue
- Maintain and improve staff and technological infrastructure
- Create strategies for dissemination of brand identity and corporate image
- Act as an ambassador with partner and affiliate bodies