Chief Operating Officer Skills And How To Improve Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Chief operating officers (COO) are executives who manage and supervise the company's daily operations. To perform this role, you may require strong leadership, time management and problem-solving skills. If you are considering a career as a chief operating officer, learning about the requisite skills may help you succeed in this position. In this article, we discuss COO skills, a list of these skills, tips to improve them, COO skills in the workplace and how to highlight these skills during the job application process.

What are chief operating officer skills?

Chief operating officer skills are the abilities and expertise that enable an individual to perform expertly as a COO. A COO monitors a business's everyday operations and may also supervise the company's production or sales departments. They also manage various teams or departments within the company. Considering their various roles and responsibilities, success in this position requires diverse skills.

Related: Learn How To Become A Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Examples of chief operating officer skills

Here are examples of skills that a COO requires to be efficient in their role:

Leadership

The term leadership refers to the ability to guide and motivate other team members. Leadership skills are critical for a COO as their responsibilities involve management and supervision of the company and its various departments. They manage teams, assign tasks to team members and monitor their performance. Strong leadership abilities are necessary for a COO, so their team respects and trusts their guidance and direction.

Communication

Communication is a necessary skill for a COO because their job requires meeting and interacting with employees and external stakeholders. Effective communication also helps them lead and guide multiple teams successfully. A COO informs employees about the goals and strategies they plan to implement and also assists them with operations related queries. They answer questions and communicate critical information to their employees clearly and concisely, which requires strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

Time management

COOs are accountable for many executive tasks and responsibilities, emphasising the importance of time management skills in this role. Prioritising and organising tasks allow them to complete their tasks on time and with efficiency. A COO may also oversee multiple projects concurrently, which requires good time management. It is important for them to prioritise their daily tasks to meet their deadlines effectively to achieve company goals.

Related: What Are Effective Management Skills For A Resume?

Decision-making

Decision-making may involve determining which projects to complete, delegating the tasks and planning how to complete them. To determine the most efficient and beneficial way of running a business, it is important for a COO to analyse the cause and effect of their actions. As a COO, they may take many decisions throughout their workday, so it is critical for them to make sensible and informed decisions conveniently.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is devising solutions to both predictable and unforeseen events or circumstances to maintain an efficient workflow. If a problem occurs in a department a COO oversees, the team may seek help and guidance from the COO in resolving it. The COO may then work to find potential solutions and choose the one that can cause the best outcome. For instance, if the company's marketing department is over budget, the COO may resolve budgetary issues by reducing expenses elsewhere to compensate for the overspending. Good problem-solving skills help them find the most suitable and efficient solution to any problem.

Organisation

Organisational skills enable COOs to perform their job effectively as their role involves a wide range of responsibilities. This may comprise a variety of aspects of a COO's job, including arranging critical reports or documents, scheduling company events, managing employees into teams or departments and organising their own weekly personal tasks. Organisational skills help them manage their task efficiently, which are critical for a COO because they lead and guide a company's various critical components.

Critical thinking

The ability to rationalise and use observational skills to make informed decisions is critical for strategy development. Critical thinking enables a COO to develop management solutions for their departments, organise their thoughts and consider the advantages and disadvantages of processes and strategies. Critical thinking also helps COOs solve issues that arise in the company or among team members, as they can logically analyse and understand the problem.

Analytical skills

COOs employ analytical skills to assess the business's operation and function. For instance, a COO may review production operations by analysing output and input reports to confirm whether the production department is meeting its objectives. The ability to analyse can also aid in developing a business strategy by highlighting areas for improvement. As a COO, it is important to have strong analytical skills for efficient business operation.

Computer knowledge

The ability to use computers and do fundamental tasks such as preparing presentations, research and emailing enables a COO to perform management and delegating tasks more efficiently. A COO uses computers to analyse business operations, develop strategies and communicate with employees. As a COO, having a basic understanding of collaboration tools, presentation software, email clients and management software is important.

How to improve COO skills

Here are some steps you can undertake to improve your COO skills:

1. Practice active listening

Active listening can help you improve your communication skills, as listening to your colleagues or employees is necessary for effective collaboration. To accomplish this, maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking with, avoid interrupting and ask appropriate follow-up questions to ensure you comprehend their message. This also enables you to understand others' perspectives better and develop stronger professional relationships.

2. Prioritise your work

Prioritise your tasks to help you improve your time management abilities. This involves determining and listing the tasks according to their priority, meaning the most urgent at first and the ones you can do later can follow accordingly. Prioritising your responsibilities enables you to complete your tasks in the most efficient manner possible, which may include completing the most time-consuming tasks first.

3. Ask for advice

You can improve your decision-making abilities by seeking advice from others when facing any problem. Even if you are working as a leader in your position, you can still practise asking for advice. By doing so, you demonstrate you value others' opinions, which can help create a more collaborative work environment. When you ask, someone may come up with a solution that you are not considering and can assist you in the decision-making process.

4. Make a schedule

Schedules can assist you in developing a more efficient work routine. By creating a schedule, you can organise your projects and events chronologically or according to their importance, which can help you be more productive. Consider creating a daily schedule that includes your tasks, events, meetings and appointments to improve your time-management and organisational skills.

Chief operating officer skills in the workplace

Here are some tips you can use to apply your skills in the workplace:

  • Assist the chief executive officer (CEO). As a COO, you work closely with the company's CEO to manage and expand the company. A CEO is usually the company's leader and is essential for the COO to assist the CEO by completing the designated tasks, reporting to them and communicating with them.

  • Listen to team members. To ensure that you understand your team members' requirements, try to give close attention to their questions and problems. Listening can allow you to exhibit your communication skills and improve your leadership abilities.

  • Develop interpersonal skills. As a COO, you are likely to interact with multiple people, so it is critical to develop your interpersonal skills. Consider empathising with employees and taking part in their growth, development and success to build meaningful relationships.

Related: 12 Ways To Build Leadership Strategies At The Workplace

How to highlight COO skills

Here are some ways you can highlight your skills during the job application process:

On your resume

Before applying for a COO position, review the job description and identify the skills the employer is looking for in a candidate. Mention all the relevant skills you possess from the job description on your resume. Consider including any certifications or work or educational experience that directly relate to the COO role and validate your skills.

In the cover letter

When writing your cover letter, highlight any specific experiences, certifications or degrees that qualify you for the job and demonstrate your skills. You can consider explaining how you can apply those skills in your current role. If you have extensive work experience relevant to being a COO, include your most relevant accomplishments or awards. Explain how your educational background qualifies you for the position, using specific examples to demonstrate your enthusiasm for becoming a COO. Demonstrating with examples ensures you possess those skills and can apply them in the new role.

In the interview

Prepare for an interview by reviewing relevant experiences or education that qualify you for a COO position. Practice answering sample interview questions and research questions that a hiring manager or CEO or the board of directors can ask during a COO job interview. Better rehearsal can help you show your communication skills and subject knowledge while answering. Use examples to demonstrate how your skills can assist you in achieving success in a COO position. Reach on time and keep your documents organised to highlight your time-management and organisational skills.

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