How to Hire a Virtual COO
Are you totally sold on the idea of hiring a virtual COO to assist with your launch into a new market? Great! The next step can be a bit tricky: locating and hiring that person. Here’s a guide to hiring that will ensure that you hire the best person for the job.
Think about the job requirements
Before you start hiring, you’ll need to think about why you’re hiring and what you hope to get out of your relationship with a virtual COO. This is your time to brainstorm. Think of everything you need someone to take on, big or small, and jot it down with no filter. You can refine it later, but now’s the time to get it all out there.
Some things you might consider delegating to a virtual COO: locating and managing other subcontractors, creating marketing strategy and ad campaigns, handling legal paperwork, plan events, network, secure public speaking opportunities, and so much more.
Create a clear job spec
This might be the most obvious, but it’s a step that many people skip! From the brainstorming you’ve already done coming up with your job requirements, you can start organizing your thoughts into a clear job spec.
Because “COO” can cover a wide variety of tasks and career paths, you’ll likely encounter potential COOs with a variety of skillsets and experiences once you begin searching. It’s easy to be enticed by someone with a snazzy elevator pitch, so knowing what you’re looking for ahead of time will ensure that you end up with someone who meets your needs.
This will also help manage expectation on both sides so that you can filter inappropriate talent and speed up the recruitment process for you and the people you’re considering engaging.
Define your budget
Be realistic about what you can afford and what you need. Rates can vary widely for this role, as it can encompass everything from day-to-day operations to a full strategic partnership. It’s usually best to budget for a retainer amount instead of fixed hours/days so that you’ll have your COO available when you need them.Research rates so that you don’t experience sticker shock when you start receiving proposals.
If you know people who work in a similar capacity in a similar market (or people who have hired in a similar capacity in a similar market), you can ask around to get an idea of the going rate. As we’ve all experienced, budget can be a quick deal breaker in new business relationships, so it’s important to understand what you need and what you can afford and be upfront about it as you start to meet with potential COOs.
Take a peek at Global Front Room’s packages to get an idea of what a virtual COO can do!
Requesting proposals and interviewing
Although you’ll likely be hiring someone as a consultant, you’ll still want to go through a thorough vetting process. If you put out an RFP, consider what information you’d like to require in your proposal. It’s always a good idea to ask for case studies and references to make sure that your new virtual COO is tried-and-true.
Even though most of your interaction with a virtual COO will be online, it is recommended to set up a video chat to ask questions face-to-face. Getting a good read on someone is difficult via email, and it’s completely acceptable to treat this as a normal job interview before bringing someone on. And don’t forget: some people connect better in person than written (and vice versa). You don’t want to miss out on a great candidate because their CV does not sell them as well as their in-person charisma. You don’t want to put someone in front of your clients that has no personality except behind a screen!
Decide how you will manage your COO
Once you bring someone on board, don’t leave them flailing! Think about what information or training they’ll need to get up to speed, and make a plan to make it accessible to them.
Think about what type of communication you’d like to have. How often? What mediums? Does the person you’re hiring offer a package that includes regular meetings or defines some of this already? Outlining this to start with will make sure that things don’t fall through the cracks down the line.
Who on your team will your virtual COO communicate with or report to? How will they work with the team? Knowing who to go to for what will help your new team member work most efficiently.
In general, it’s important to define the expectations for your relationship early on. You want to give your virtual COO room to make the best use of their skills and expertise while still making sure that they’re accountable for checking items of the list, showing results, or meeting specific goals.
It is in your and their best interest that goals are aligned. It’s a two-way street, especially if they are opening up their black book of contacts! Your COO should be your equal rather than us vs them or a junior member of your staff. Your COO is your partner in crime to back you up and help grow your business, and they should be treated as such.
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