Archive for the ‘C-Level’ Category

Six Tips to Demystify Hiring a COO for a High-Growth Company

13 April 2018

Executive Recruiters sometimes say the most difficult C-Suite search is finding the right COO. Even agreeing on the job description can be a battle! It doesn’t need to be so hard!  Here are 6 tips to demystify the process.

  1. Understand Why It’s Difficult: A problem is easier to solve if you understand the root cause.  The COO role differs from all other C-Suite roles for one reason: while other C-Level jobs are defined in relation to the work to be done, the COO’s role is mostly defined in relation to the CEO as an individual.  From company to company, the role of COO is hugely varied, depending on (a) the needs of the company and, even more importantly, on (b) the strengths — and the desires — of the particular CEO.
  2. Pick One of the 7 Types of COO’s: The first requirement is to pick the “type” of COO needed.  There are as many as seven different “types” of COO’s as listed later. Each of these different types arises from the different motives behind creating the position in the first place.  Once you agree on these motives, picking the type is easy.
  3. NOW Tackle the Job Description: Only after you’ve agreed on your motive for hiring a COO — and you’ve picked the type – can you now create the COO’s job description; which things will s/he do (and which things will the CEO still do.)  Define the COO’s role to be complimentary to the particular CEO.  Define the roles so the CEO can focus on the things at which s/he excels and, hopefully, enjoys.
  4. Agree on Decision Making Authority: One of the toughest things to determine is which decisions the CEO is now going to relinquish to the COO. You’ll not be able to attract a top-notch COO if this is not discussed in advance.  Define clear decision-making “rights” for the COO, with explicit and reasonable lines of demarcation between CEO and COO decision making responsibilities.
  5. The Last Remaining Hurdle: Throughout the recruiting process you need to determine two more things:
    1. Establishment of Trust— The most important aspect of a successful CEO-COO relationship is the establishment of trust.  Trust begins with the CEO coming to terms with why a COO is even being added to the C-Suite.  The CEO must then convey the “why” to any prospective COO.
    2. Respect— The CEO and COO must have mutual respect. They need to recognize and appreciate the skills each brings. And they must be completely open with each other. This is the “chemistry” that people often speak of and it must be determined before the COO is hired.
  6. A Short-Term Alternative – an Interim COO: The process or specing and then hiring a COO can be daunting, particularly if it takes a long time for the CEO and the Board to work through all the above.  If that’s the case – and if you have immediate needs — you might consider bringing in a seasoned Interim COO while you work through the process.  This should NOT be a “try-and-buy” situation, but rather someone who can be an extra set of hands to “get stuff done” while the CEO and the Board work through the process.  In addition to getting stuff done, a good Interim COO can help you get through the above process more quickly.

Seven Different COO Roles

As noted earlier, the different types of COO’s arise from the different motives behind creating the position in the first place.  Note: In some companies, the COO could play two roles at the same time.

Seven Types of COO’s:

  • Executor.  Execute strategy; deliver day-to-day results.
  • Change Agent.  Lead a specific strategic imperative, such as a turnaround, a major organizational change, or a planned rapid expansion.
  • Mentor.  Mentor a young or inexperienced CEO (often a founder). As the CEO develops, this COO role will either disappear or be heavily restructured.
  • CEO’s “Other Half.”  If CEO is the kind of person who works best with a partner.
  • Heir-apparent.  To groom—or test—a company’s CEO-elect.
  • Important Team Player.  Promote to the COO role an executive considered too valuable to lose.

What I Do:  I am a professional Interim CEO or COO.  Since 2000 I have been asked 24 times by investors and/or board members to jump into a company on an interim basis to help the company get started, restarted, or grow to the next level. I am an agent of change.  LinkedIn  www.linkedin.com/in/DesmondPieri

 

9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero

11 February 2018

imagesEvery business — even a startup — needs a mysterious, unsung hero, a COO.

Importance: A COO — particularly one with lots of broad exposure — knows which levers to pull to make each functional area work in a coordinated way, needed for a startup to succeed.

Don’t Wait Too Long: Most startups wait too long to hire a COO.  Hire immediately if you produce a physical product – or if the founder/CEO is immersed in building the technology. Hire when you hit product/market fit if you build digital products.

Why “Mysterious” : Per this Harvard Business Review article, the role of Chief Operating Officer is the most mysterious and misunderstood position because of the complexity and diversity of responsibilities.

Why “Unsung”? The COO always expects to be blamed, yet knows they will miss out on the praise.

Custom: Per Etsy COO, the COO role needs to be (more…)

Four Cases When Hiring an Interim CEO Makes Sense — Even for a Young Startup!

10 October 2012

Number 4

I’ve done 10 interim CEO / interim COO gigs during the last 10 years.  In my view, there are four cases when hiring an interim CEO make sense:

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  1. For The First 3 – 18 Months of a Startup: As detailed in this post (which in turn was prompted by a post from Flybridge Capital Partners venture capitalist Michael Greeley’s) there are times when hiring an interim CEO at the formation of a startup makes sense.  Adding the experience of a senior, successful entrepreneur to the passion and vision of the founding entrepreneurs can increase the likelihood of the venture’s success.  (This is the role I played at Ember Corporation.)
  2. Helping a Founding CEO: Often, later in a startup’s life, a founding CEO can use help.  Rather than terminating the founder and “throwing the baby out with the bath water,” a better solution might be to bring in an interim COO to counsel the founder, and – in many cases – to actually (more…)

Report: 8 Cases When VC’s / Boards Should Hire An Interim CEO

25 February 2010

The Economist recently reported that venture capitalists and boards of directors of European companies are far ahead of their US counterparts in understanding when it makes sense to hire an interim CEO.  Now, a new report out of the UK – which has perhaps the most sophisticated interim management services in the world – details eight cases when a board should consider putting in an interim CEO.

I’ve listed them below, but first three other key points from the report:

  1. Interim CEOs are not consultants; rather, they are hands-on workers.
  2. Interim CEOs are not potential employees; the good ones do interim work as a way of life (and not as a “filler” until a poor economy improves.)
  3. Interim CEOs can be taken into the confidence of a board (as an interim person has the advantage of impartiality.)

The report also talks about why younger and younger executives are turning to interim management as a way to achieve a more flexible and rewarding career.  While delivering significant benefits to the client, interim managers provide themselves with (more…)

The Economist: “Why Many USA Companies Now Hire Interim CEOs.”

30 December 2009

The Economist has a great article about the type of work I’ve been doing for ten years, Interim CEO. The piece addresses why many American companies are now adopting a practice that originated in Europe, and why so many top-notch execs are enjoying these temporary CEO jobs.

The Economist postulates that “interim executives may be the wave of the future in all rich countries, as these countries evolve from what Peter Drucker called a ‘society of organizations’ into a ‘society of networks.’”

Why Companies Do It

The article details three reasons why a company might choose to (more…)

Building on Michael Greeley’s Idea for Senior Successful Serial Entrepreneurs Joining Startups

31 October 2009

StartupI agree with venture capitalist Michael Greeley of Flybridge Capital Partners who recently stated that building companies demands great passion, vision and intelligence but “it also helps to have done it before.”  He goes on to say that what the marketplace really needs are “senior successful serial entrepreneurs” to serve on the next generation of entrepreneurs’ boards, to open up their rolodexes, and to share what worked and what didn’t work. He ends by noting that, “such mentorship is difficult to find.”

I would like to build on that suggestion; rather than having these serial entrepreneurs simply serve on boards, I suggest that in some cases they should actually serve as the startup’s interim CEO while the company is getting off the ground.

Every startup has a myriad of details and actions that need to be done. Rather than having a board member who simply advises, “You need to do this; and you need to do that,” in many cases the startup would be better served by (more…)

Report: “Need for Interim Change Management Increases Dramatically in One Year.”

4 May 2008

Executives Online, a firm specializing in placing interim C-level executives in Europe, reports today that the demand for CEO / COO to perform Change Management has increased 220% in on one year. They attribute this dramatic increase in demand to a combination of the impact on all types of businesses of the problems in the financial markets, as well as the US recession.

This is good news for people (like me!) who specialize in interim ‘Change Agent’ type assignments.

Six Things It Takes To Be A Good Interim Executive

4 May 2007

number sixMy post, “Three Cases When Interim Executive Management Make Sense” focuses on Interim Executive Management from the company’s point of view.  An article published in the UK focus on Interim Management from the person’s point of view.

I’m still a little surprised when I find myself recommending that, under certain circumstances, companies should make interim appointments at the executive / C-level.  “Short-term” is simply not my nature.  But some of the comments in the article help explain why, for the last decade, I’ve enjoyed success in a handful of assignments both in the States and in Europe:

  1. Fixing Things Fast:  Interim executives need to enjoy fixing / changing things in a defined period of time.
  2. High-Pressure Situations:  Interim executives need to be passionate about the task at hand, with a strong ability to succeed under high-pressure situations.
  3. Hands-On Role:  Interim executives need to become an integral part of the organization; most employees open up to them, providing key support for a rapid solution.
  4. Loyalty:  Interim executives develop a keen sense of loyalty to the organization, particularly to the need to improve it.
  5. Prior Knowledge:  Interim executives bring to each organization the learnings from many other enterprises, allowing for rapid improvement.
  6. Permanent Interim:  The best interim managers are those “who do it for a living” and are not simply “between jobs.”

The article’s not particularly well written, but it’s a quick read if you are so inclined.