Smaller companies tend to rely on their Founder/CEO to run the ship and man the helm. As a company grows and expands, the demands become increasingly greater on the CEO. At some point, it becomes time to hire someone to help keep the operations running smoothly. That someone is usually a COO (Chief Operating Officer) or a VP of Operations. While they may sound alike, their roles differ, and knowing what sets them apart may allow you to make a better choice on which position is right for your organization.
Here is what you can expect a COO to handle as part of their duties:
- Work closely with the CEO
- Consider the long-term, big-picture vision for the operations
- Anticipate strategy and market plan impact for company effectiveness and efficiency over time
- Setting and maintaining high expectations
- Creating plans to hit company targets
- Provide important insights about accomplishments that are and aren’t possible
- Establishing policies for the company
VP of Operations Standards
Below are the duties you can expect a VP of Operations to handle:
- Hands-on with the operations team work day-to-day
- Less focus on the future (leaves that to the CEO) and more on the present
- Close attention to performance goals
- Actively manages supervisors and stakeholders
- Add new technology, policies, equipment, and changes for a positive impact on current operations
- Liaison between team and executives
- Strong ability to communicate the strategic vision to the team and unite the organization around changes
- Relay information and perspectives of the frontline team to those in leadership positions
As your business grows, evaluating which seats to hire for is vital. Some companies choose to have both a VP of Operations and a COO. Follow this criterion to narrow down your needs and decide which role is right for your business:
Intentions – Does your strategy for the future include tapping into what you already do well or changing how you operate as you grow and transform? A VP would amplify existing strategy while a COO would be more useful for rewriting operations.
Growth – A company scaling quickly means a COO would be helpful with executing new strategic visions and streamlining operations whereas a company stable near term would be better served by a VP for focusing on improvement rather than change.
Industry – Market shifts and key rivals will sway needed operations. For times of disruption and transformation, a COO built for adaptation will be prime picking. When your market is saturated and competitive, a VP who carves out any advantages your company has should be your choice.
Patterns – Look at your operations department track record. If history shows excellence as a leading quality, then a COO can offer vision and new ideas to propel your business. If your operations have been a pain point or place of inefficiency, then perhaps a VP would bring consistency and efficiency to the table.
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