Taking the COO Reigns

This past year I was presented with the opportunity for a promotion to Chief Operating Officer here at Web Talent Marketing. My thoughts went immediately to the impact this role could have on both our team members as well as the company. As I began to step into the roll two questions guided my decisions and movement:

How do you begin to build the path forward as COO and start driving the company?

What tools are useful to forge the path ahead, and what tools lack the substance needed?

As this role may be new to you as well, I would like to share our learnings over the last six months as we created a medium range plan.

Start with SWOT

Our C-Suite began with a SWOT analysis of the company analyzing internal strengths and weaknesses along with external opportunities and threats.

This analysis, if done well, will allow you to understand the status of your organization, your industry, your opportunities for improvement, as well as your threats. The goal is to be thorough. Take your time on this as it is key to future decisions.

As part of the SWOT analysis we analyzed not only the company as a whole but people as well. Look at your team’s strengths honestly, matched with your company goals. Do you have the right people, in the right seats? Take time to have a realistic view of your organizational chart. Where does it stand today, where will it need to be 24 months from now? All of these are valuable parts of the analysis.

Putting it on Paper and Editing

With your SWOT completed as well as the staff analysis, complete the additional collateral pieces needed for your path forward strategically. Physically write down your goals, the organizational chart, your plan, etc. There is something powerful about having a strategy in writing.

Review the pieces that you have gathered through this process with your key executives. Be sure to allow for debate, discussion and then alignment of a plan. Through the conversation with your executive team, your plan will gain sponsorship and strength. Yet, be prepared that the results may not resemble what you had in your mind. And that it okay. Now, begin to build a presentation of your findings to share with all your company leaders.

In sharing the plan, keep this group to no more than eight at the table to allow for everyone’s input. My recommendation is an offsite meeting to help your team focus on the plan moving forward as well as its implications for them and their teams. It should spurn further conversation, ideation, and debate. Be prepared to tear down or build up the plan as it exists.

Implement and be Open

Once your plan is signed off by your leaders, begin an implementation calendar. Look at 12 – 18 months ahead. Begin to implement at a pace acceptable to your culture while not losing momentum. Throughout this process read, and read more. Expose yourself to different thinking, structure, ideas.

We could have aimed for a plan that took us out five years, yet a medium range plan allows us to have a clear path to 2020 with the flexibility to adapt to our clients as well as the industry. As you look ahead, do you have a defined path to impact your team to success?