As a chief operating officer (COO), you likely excel at rooting out company inefficiencies. COOs are jacks of all trades and you are no exception! It’s challenging to handle a company’s internal affairs, so even the most hardworking and talented operations professionals can benefit from a few pointers now and then.
What if we told you there are 12 steps you can take as a COO to improve your company’s operational efficiency? Read on if you’re interested in optimizing your workdays to enhance productivity and increase profit margins.
What does a COO do?
A COO leads operational efficiency at a company. They are often the second in command next to the CEO and are responsible for designing and implementing policies that promote company culture and keep the organization on track to meet its goals. A COO’s responsibilities may include: overseeing the work of executives, leading specific strategic initiatives, and executing strategies developed by the company’s management team.
A good COO possesses many positive traits and skills such as integrity, detail orientation, adaptability, organization, and focus to help them execute their company’s business plan. While there isn’t one job description to match every COO’s daily responsibilities, know that these individuals play a key role in effectively growing a company and ensuring its financial strength.
Run productive meetings
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12 productivity tips for COOs
- Perfect your communication skills
- Set clear goals
- Delegate effectively
- Create effective decision-making processes
- Use the time-blocking method
- Maintain a clutter-free office space
- Reward yourself
- Write down your priorities
- Automate processes
- Run productive meetings
- Create a productive routine
- Learn how to collaborate effectively
1Perfect your communication skills
While it’s impossible to be a perfect communicator, as a COO, you should practice effective and clear communication with your colleagues every day. Your company’s CEO will constantly have fresh thoughts, and ultimately, it will be up to you to communicate these ideas with the rest of the team. Hone your communication skills by setting clear goals and expectations with your team members regularly. Ask clarifying questions to confirm that you understand your to-dos and schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your CEO and all your direct reports. Don’t forget to use non-verbal communication and body language appropriately, too.
2Set clear goals
Your goal-setting skills need to be strong for you to make a plan that fulfills your CEO’s organizational goals. Create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals for yourself and your company that will guide your decision-making. For example, if your CEO wants to develop strong relationships with stakeholders, you can set a goal to develop a plan that creates maximum value for this group by the end of Q1.
Track objectives as part of your meeting workflow with Fellow. Record, define, and track the progress of your objectives and key results (OKRs) using our Objectives tool so everyone stays on the same page.
You’re too busy to handle everything on your own. As a COO, delegation will be one of your greatest productivity tools. When delegating action items, play to your employees’ strengths and goals. Assign tasks based on each individual’s skills, availability, and willingness to learn. Develop a process so you don’t feel the need to micromanage while your employees carry out tasks. If necessary, set some time aside to train your colleagues on how to complete specific tasks efficiently so they can overcome roadblocks without your oversight.
4Create effective decision-making processes
As COO, it is your job to streamline decision-making processes at your company. An effective decision-making process will move your team through a series of steps that solve a business problem. Create processes for a variety of scenarios including new hires, quarterly goals, budgeting, and a criterion that determines whether or not to move forward with a project. The goal of a process should be to enable you and your teammates to work through projects by focusing on the outcome.
5Use the time-blocking method
They say if you don’t control your calendar, your calendar will control you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule, look no further than time-blocking. The time-blocking method is a scheduling format that helps boost your productivity by dividing your day into specific blocks of time. The key is to prioritize your task list in advance and block from there. Take note of what’s coming up for the week ahead and make a rough block for your time blocks each day. At the end of each work day, review unfinished tasks and new ones to adjust your schedule accordingly.
6Maintain a clutter-free office space
A cluttered space contributes to a cluttered mind. The cleaner your office is, the happier you and your employees will be. A clutter-free space may even boost productivity and work morale. You should be able to find everything you need to do your job easily, so don’t let paperwork (or dirty dishes) pile up in your workspace. This rule extends to your digital space. Digital clutter is any disorganized data, files, or devices that can slow you and your computer down. Schedule time into your calendar every month to clean your physical and digital spaces.
You have a tough role that requires a lot of planning and organization, so don’t forget to give yourself praise when you overcome a roadblock or achieve a milestone goal. Do something nice to celebrate small wins at work. It can be as simple as rewarding yourself with a fancy coffee when you create this year’s strategic plan or finish off a tough work week. Rewarding yourself regularly will help you feel good about what you’ve done so far while also motivating you to continue working towards your goals.
8Write down your priorities
When you prioritize, you give yourself time to focus on urgent tasks. Start by identifying what is important to you and in what order. Then, weigh urgency versus importance. You’ll quickly realize that some tasks will need to be completed as soon as possible, while others can wait. If you have several urgent and important tasks, start placing them in order of most effort required to least effort required so you know which task you’ll want to get out of the way first. Be realistic by only writing down what you will actually be able to achieve in one work day.
Automating business operations is the key to saving time and money as a COO and enhancing the experience for your employees and customers. Build an operational framework that is digital first, and find technologies that will boost growth, generate data, and speed up processes. One example of successful automation is using artificial intelligence to learn from customer behavior on your website. While you may need to lean on your company’s tech experts a bit for this one, the learning curve will be well worth it in the end.
10Run productive meetings
If you want to lead a productive work life, start by hosting productive meetings! Fellow is your one-stop-shop for running efficient team meetings and one-on-ones, building collaborative meeting agendas, recording decisions, and holding team members accountable.
“We think about meetings now as a tool to reach our desired outcome, rather than something that just exists during the day. [Fellow’s] been helpful and created a mindset shift for people that are having meetings.”— Josh Andrews, COO at Spare
11Create a productive routine
Creating a routine before, during, and after work will help you reduce stress, leading to better work, sleep, and greater success in all facets of life. While no two COO routines will be the same, you can optimize your work days by identifying your peak productivity hours and blocking off that time for deep work. Minimize distractions during tasks that require focus and bundle similar tasks together. Leverage technology to set reminders for routines as you get started. At the end of the day, practice self-care and do an activity like yoga that will help you wind down.
12Learn how to collaborate effectively
Collaborate with colleagues to drive organizational performance. Collaborating will help you better your problem-solving skills, improve team communication, and can benefit the health of your company culture. To improve your skills in this area, recognize that there will be differences in the way others work. With that in mind, try adapting to the needs of your team members. When many employees collaborate on a project you’re leading, set ground rules and goals that will keep all participants on track. Lead by example by being open to feedback, opinions, and new ideas.
As COO of your company, you may feel like you’re being pulled in a hundred directions on any given day. Your role is important, but so is your well-being. To lead your company’s daily operations, you need to be strategic in your decision-making, especially when it comes to how you spend your own time. Implement our 12 tips into your work life if you ever feel like you’re struggling to balance your schedule with your workload. Good luck!