5 Challenges Facing COOs (And How to Overcome Them)

In the dynamic role of the COO, these operational leaders encounter hurdles that require strategic problem-solving to optimize operations and drive growth. This article dives into these challenges, offering insights for COOs to boost organizational resilience and value creation among their companies.

The Unique Role of COOs

Today, the role of COOs is more demanding, unique, and evolving than ever before. To quote McKinsey, the COO role is evolving from its roots in the back office into a catalyst for technology-driven growth, strategic expansion, and employee empowerment.

The duties of a Chief Operating Officers vary by industry, organization, and need. But, all COOs face challenges that require strategic thinking and problem-solving to optimize business operations and drive growth.

Given the disruptions facing businesses today, COOs are key players in boosting organizational resilience and value creation. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top challenges that COOs encounter in their efforts to improve operations. By understanding these challenges, COOs can navigate their roles more effectively and implement successful strategies to overcome them.

The COO role is evolving from its roots in the back office into a catalyst for technology-driven growth, strategic expansion, and employee empowerment.

McKinsey & Company

Top COO Challenges

#1 Globalization

Globalization has led to a high level of complexity for COOs. With the emergence of new markets in different countries, COOs must ensure smooth and effective operational processes across the board. Adapting quickly is key for COOs to stay ahead of the game. Additionally, facilitating seamless coordination across global teams is paramount for managing varying levels of complexity.

See how Work-Relay connects global teams, systems, and processes at Perennials & Sutherland ➝

#2 Handling Change

One of the most common COO challenges involves managing change. COOs often introduce strategies, technologies, and processes to enhance internal operations, which can impact the entire company. However, managing change processes can be a challenging task when it involves multiple teams and stakehholders. To overcome this, COOs should prioritize visibility. Keep one system of record to coordinate between teams and manage change complexities.

TC Transcontinental Packaging’s transformative results of managing change with Work-Relay ➝

#3 Aligning with Business Goals

COOs play a crucial role in ensuring operational alignment with the organization’s vision and strategy. They must carefully choose the right tools, establish procedures and policies, and foster a positive mindset among their teams. To successfully align with business goals, COOs should seek performance insights that show how operations are syncing to the organization’s strategy.

Data, tracking, and insights into all phases of work from one spot ➝

#4 Timely Decision-Making

Having easily accessible, accurate data is crucial for COOs to make important decisions that benefit the business. Oftentimes, this involves combing through various spreadsheets and dashboards, which can slow business down. It is paramount for COOs to quickly gather data, align with other stakeholders, and make informed decisions. To streamline this process, COOs should turn to data analytics tools that enable faster, more accurate decision-making.

The fastest way to insights on Salesforce ➝

#5 Identifying Areas for Coordination & Streamlined Communication

Part of the COO’s responsibilities involves identifying bottlenecks and enhancing productivity within teams and departments. Commonly, bottlenecks often arise during handoffs between teams. It’s important for COOs to holistically view the business and explore ways to bring departments together through improved coordination and communication.

Coordination vs. collaboration, and how to improve coordination ➝

Overcoming COO Challenges for Success

The role of the COO is crucial in optimizing processes and driving success in today’s rapidly changing business environment. To thrive in this landscape, COOs must adapt and develop new skills to tackle complex challenges ahead.

By proactively addressing these challenges and executing effective strategies, COOs can position their organizations for success in a competitive and dynamic business environment.

Increase organization-wide coordination with a Salesforce-native tool.

Work Relay


March 19, 2024

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