How COO's Overcome Obstacles That Stand in the Way of Their Success

6 April

As the old saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Running a company is not easy. And unfortunately, failure is a part of learning. But what can you do to overcome challenges or obstacles and get on the right path toward success?

Chief operating officers (COO) have to make decisions every day. Challenges can come from outside of the company, such as industry trends, competition, and marketplace conditions. There are also internal challenges that arise from employees, cash flow, and partners.

Facing these challenges or obstacles head on and overcoming them is the key to your success and your company's profitability. Let's start by looking at external and internal obstacles that COO's face.

External Obstacles

Competition can be unpredictable and create an external obstacle. If other companies start doing something similar to what you thought was unique, you may not realize you have a problem until you start losing clients. One way to counteract this is to look at your plans over the next few months and try to figure out what obstacles you might face.

It's extremely difficult to predict what will happen next. But you can plan for a number of scenarios and think through what you would do to get through those challenges.

Industry trends or changes can stand in the way of your success. If you're in a regulated industry, watch for new laws and political changes that may be coming up, so you're not caught off guard.

Internal Obstacles

You may find yourself in a position where you are working with a non-technical CEO. The CEO may not believe in or understand the role of technology in the company today. Maybe your CEO is towards the end of their career, and they did their job for many decades without the help of technology. You'll need to help them understand how and why technology is vital to stay competitive.

COO's also have to deal with internal obstacles that can impede the progress of a project.

Dealing with different personalities on internal teams can be challenging.

If you have two people that feel they're always right, the COO ends up acting as a referee. When some team members are slower than others, the COO needs to stay on top of the slower staff member to make sure they're not holding others back. If one team member is not done with their part of the project, the project can't be completed.

A COO needs to be present and help resolve issues for their employees. There's no trick to it; chief operating officers must be patient and listen to what their staff has to say.

Overcoming Challenges

So what can a COO do to overcome obstacles and work through challenges? Here are four things a COO can do to work towards a successful outcome.

1. Focus on the Outcome

Bring clarity to the team so that everyone is on the same page and can see what the CEO wants as an outcome. If the team can see themselves as a big part of the solution, it will be more likely to stay on track and understand that it is critical to a successful outcome. For this to happen, communication is essential. Project plans and roadmaps will help to stay on top of scheduling and due dates.

2. Have an Appropriate Budget

In order to complete a project successfully, you must outline a budget to get from start to finish. If you manage your cash flow poorly, you'll fail without a doubt, and you'll have nothing left to invest in your team or the resources they need for the project. Stay on top of the budget, reviewing it weekly, so there are no surprises. And try to keep a cash reserve to fill in any gaps if an unexpected need arises.

3. Create a Top Team

Chief operating officers are more successful when they have a good team behind them. As you put a team together, look to see how they work together.

Look for conflicts and resolve any issues early.

Train your team to the standards that you expect and make sure it has all of the resources that it needs to get its job done right and on time. At regular intervals, go back and evaluate how the team is doing, and if necessary, replace those team members with poor performance to continue to strengthen the group.

4. Persevere and Be Resilient

Some challenges can be persistent. You'll have to deal with them on a regular, sometimes daily, basis before they can be overcome.

Make changes as necessary to continue to push through, but don't give up. Look back and regularly evaluate what you and your team are doing to see where improvements can be made. Even when you're frustrated, try to display a level of maturity to help your team work through the hard times.

What challenges or obstacles is your company facing, and how are you working through them? Tell us more in the section for comments below.

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