As an Operations professional in an SME recruitment business, a common challenge we often face is working in a standalone role. For many of us, we get to a level of progression in our careers and it becomes difficult to understand what development we need in order to make that step up into a COO position. Without a predecessor or mentor, we can often be struggling in the dark to take on those extra responsibilities and skills required to secure that promotion.
With this in mind, we brought together three impressive COOs from the recruitment and executive search sectors to share their experiences and insights to making that step up. Together with our partners Sourcebreaker and Hinterview, we hosted the first ‘Future COOs’ event at the end of February.
If you missed our event or enjoyed the free bar a little too much and need reminders of what happened, here are our takeaways from the event.
There is no set route to becoming a COO. Sorry.
Interestingly, every COO at our event had a completely different route to the top. What they had in common though is a remit and ability to ‘make it happen and get stuff done’ and adapt how they operate to their business. They are effectively a bespoke COO for each business.
Because there is no set route to the top and you need to be bespoke for your business, you need to use every possible opportunity to learn said firm. Learn about the people in it and the wider market in which they operate. You also need to be proactive in your thirst for expanding your knowledge-base and skill-set. This will allow you to grow into a COO role within your business.
A COO needs to be able to drive business revenue and there are no secrets in how you do that; increase the headcount.
A general rule of thumb is a Recruitment Consultant will bill £100,000 a year for your business, so if you want to grow your business by £1m, you need to add 10 heads. It’s a simple formula, but one which has stood the test of time.
What undermines headcount growth? High staff turnover. It is absolutely essential you identify the star performers, ensure they are locked into the business (i.e. motivate and retain them) and get rid of bad apples quickly.
A COO needs to ensure everything is in place for your recruitment consultants to be successful, without getting too caught up in the minutiae, this includes areas such as onboarding, training and development, marketing, compliance, etc.
Data is one of your most effective tools in allowing you to be great in your position and truly add value to a business.
For example, if your Consultants aren’t using a CRM effectively, how do you know the source of your placements and therefore manage your job board spend? How can you understand the performance of clients and where your time is being spent?
Having accurate business data will provide you with the compelling information to make changes within the business, add value and display why you are deserving of the COO job title.
A COO must focus on value creation. If you’re spending your time buying kettles for the office, you’re not creating any value and it certainly isn’t the best use of your time (and buying kettles will not help with the imposter syndrome you may be facing!). *
A COO needs to be proactive and forward thinking in how they will make their business more revenue. What can you implement to improve efficiencies?
This isn’t a role for people who crave the limelight or all of the glory. It’s a role where you need to be prepared to have your ideas challenged, a role where you need to be adaptable and one where you need to pick your battles.
If your ego means ‘it’s my way or the highway’, potentially brilliant internal ideas may be being suppressed, which clearly will not help the business grow and internal talent flourish. Therefore, it is important that creativity and innovation are encouraged throughout the business and ideas are constructively challenged.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of ‘getting stuff done’.
Imposter syndrome? Excuse me? This article should be about becoming a COO.
After all the hard work, dedication and skill to reach the top, COOs still battle imposter syndrome. And that’s fine, natural in fact! Don’t worry about it and let it affect you.
Camino Partners host recruitment sector-specific events for all back-office departments, if you are interested in attending any future events, email firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you are actually buying kettles because there is nobody else, we have an array of amazing candidates who you can hire.