Ask a consultant

  • Updated: January 27, 2008 - 4:45 PM

QOur business has grown in the past eight years from three employees to more than 30, in two countries, which required me to work many more hours. We recently hired a great chief operating officer so I could focus more on overall strategy and direction, but I still struggle with letting go of the day-to-day operations. What would be a good use of my time in this new business stage to make sure we succeed?

ALBERTO MONSERRATE

PRESIDENT AND CEO

LATINO COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK

AIt is not easy for an entrepreneur to reduce his/her control of a growing enterprise. Hiring a chief operating officer is a positive step ... the challenge is to have the COO succeed as the business succeeds.

Begin with a strategic plan that has two or three strategic initiatives. Under each of these initiatives, there should be two or three action items. Take a look at each action item and determine: 1) the measures of success for each; 2) who has final authority for each item; 3) who does the work or supervises the work to complete the item; 4) who needs to be consulted before a final decision is made; 5) who needs to be informed after action has taken, and 6) who does not need be involved. The CEO and COO should be able to use these points to assign tasks to each other and to determine when each has to either get out of the other's way or needs to help the other. This exercise will usually lead to each taking the lead in a different domain of the business. For example, the CEO may focus on customers and the COO on employees.

This process is a way to sort out responsibilities but will not sufficiently create delineated roles. Rather, continued discussions between the CEO and COO, using the completion of the strategic action items, will eventually shape that delineation. Ultimately, the proper accommodation of roles will depend on the CEO's willingness to share leadership and control. This will take time and will build as both executives gain comfort and trust with each other.

JACK MILITELLO

PROFESSOR; DIRECTOR,

HEALTH CARE UST MBA PROGRAM

UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS

OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

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