The responsibilities of marketing, financial, or human resources directors are clear – the task front shows the title of the position. The role of COO and CEO is more difficult: their content depends on the specifics of the business. In this article, we will investigate who reports directly to the CEO, and what are his responsibilities.
The role of CEO and COO in corporate management structure
In Western companies, the functions of strategic development and operational activities are divided between two top managers who complement each other and do not compete with each other. The CEO solves strategic issues, promotes new products, fixes systemic problems that keep the company from growing normally, and thinks out strategies to capture other markets.
The COO supervises the main divisions, deals with personnel and financial issues, resolves conflicts between departments and problems with clients. He systematizes his work in reports that he sends daily or weekly to the general.
What is the CEO, CFO, COO hierarchy?
Practice shows that one person cannot simultaneously perform strategic and current tasks – sooner or later he will begin to sink into a routine, losing control over personnel and business processes. That is why in successful companies the functions of strategic and operational management are clearly divided between the CEO and the COO.
The COO often focuses on three areas:
- Implementation of the operational strategy. The COO is responsible for the internal processes of the organization. These typically include back-office activities (manufacturing, supply chain, hiring, HR, IT).
- Quality control. Implementation of standards, organization of management and qualification of personnel, certification for compliance with international standards ISO, CMM, etc.
- Creation of a system of performance indicators. The most popular are KPIs and OKRs.
Almost any owner of a more or less successful medium or large enterprise will say that the CFO is one of the key employees of the company. The CFO is one of the most influential top managers of the organization, reporting either to the CEO or the business owner directly. The main task of the CFO is to increase the market value of the company by improving the efficiency of its activities. It is widely believed that the financial director, first of all, should work on the growth of the company’s profit, but this is rather the responsibility of the sales director. The CFO should focus on improving the company’s business processes.
How responsibility is shared between the COO, CEO, and owner?
In world practice, there are 7 main variations of the role of the COO:
- His task is to implement the strategy from the board of directors.
- change agent. Usually, an expert in a certain area is hired for this purpose and given the authority to implement changes – for example, moving the company to a new business model.
- when a startup owner hires an experienced industry veteran to advise and fine-tune operations.
- “Second half”. Demanded in businesses where you need to balance the personality of the owner/CEO.
- Partner (Two in a box). Relevant for large corporations, where the range of tasks is so wide that the owner / CEO cannot physically cover everything.
- If the CEO is preparing to leave the company, the COO role is introduced into the structure to immerse the future head of the organization in the business.
- “Valuable person”. A COO position can be created specifically for a leader who has grown up in a company and does not want to lose him.