Chief Operating Officers - their importance in driving efficiencies in a high-growth SME

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) has a position of key importance in any organisation. In an ambitious SME, their role can be particularly pivotal. Any small or medium-sized business that is looking to grow, diversify, develop, and expand will lean heavily on the skills, vision, and expertise of its key personnel.

If a high-growth SME is looking to become more efficient to provide a better ongoing foundation on which to support that growth, then the role of the COO will be critical.

Why does a high-growth SME need an effective COO?

In a high-growth SME, the COO will play a vital role in managing the resources of the company and developing its commercial infrastructure as it grows. They will have an extensive and complex range of responsibilities. This might involve developing and implementing new systems and processes with the aim of streamlining operations or identifying particular inefficiencies and practices that are no longer suitable for an expanding company. They will coordinate across the business with different departments and teams to ensure that targets are being met.

The COO will act alongside and in partnership with the CEO while also providing an effective bridge between front-line teams and the executive team.

An expanding SME may not employ a Chief Financial Officer. In this case, the COO will oversee the financial side of the business as well as the operational aspects. They will engage in financial reviews and develop strategies to reach the company’s revenue targets.

If the CEO lacks financial expertise, the financial aspects of the COO’s role become all the more critical. The COO will also look into the sale and purchase of assets and investments.

A complex skill set

To effectively manage this wide range of roles and responsibilities requires a complex skill set. The individual needs to be an exceptional communicator who can transmit ideas and actions to people at different levels of the company.

Highly developed problem-solving skills are essential, as is the ability to make clear and decisive decisions. Organisational skills are another ingredient that a successful SME COO requires.

Above all else, they need the right mindset and a determination to deliver on the company goals. This is particularly important as an SME is growing and developing, and the business operations need to be modified and developed in order to be effectively scalable.

So how can a growing SME under time and resource constraints successfully recruit the kind of candidate they need to fill such a critical role in the organisation’s future growth?

How Rowan Group can help

Our executive search service can help you appoint a dynamic COO with the right skill set for your business. The business leaders we appoint drive change and outcomes that are in line with corporate expectations and are aligned with the SME’s value creation plan.

Contact us to find out more about our services and how we work.