What qualities do you look for when hiring for an executive operations position?

I'm the CEO of a service shop (developers). We currently have 20 employees. What are qualities that I should be looking at when hiring for an operations position to help me with day to day tasks? I'm also torn between hiring someone from the outside with experience, or promoting someone that I trust with less experience.


Having been on both sides of the coin, I would say trust is the first factor. Mentor the one with less experience and as he develops, your time will thereafter be freed up to work on long term strategic goals & objectives.

Answered 10 years ago

I would try to hire into your weakness and might take an inventory of exactly what you expect the candidate to aggressively deal with that will help your company scale. It seems probable that you are hiring your ops employee before an HR employee, and finance employee so if that is the case you will want to make sure the Ops candidate you select has the ability not only to just handle those roles but to also transition those responsibilities as the company grows. When I think of ops I think of day to day management but also strategy.

Promoting someone from within might be an easier and more comfortable route but an external candidate will most likely challenge you in the right sort of ways and compliment you in others, this uncomfortable chafing will lead you to be a better leader and strategist within your business. Good luck!

Answered 10 years ago

I'm working directly with the SVP of Operations of my company & based on that I would HIGHLY value a few "off the radar" behaviors; the ability to quickly adapt to change, continuous learning, strong implementation skills, and the ability to identify/develop talent.
You're welcome to contact me for more detail - not knowing the experience of your internal candidate, hard to answer that part of the question.

Answered 9 years ago

I have hired a few hundreds over the last 20 years, as a startup cofounder, advisor for a few startups, and as a manager at Google. I have made mistakes. I have learned a bit. I will share my personal thoughts on it.

Depends on your line of business and your talent pool. In my line of businesses, I work with products that are designed to grow exponentionally. Both as a manager and advising startups, we are planning and executing to grow 1000000x. This takes specific combination of Skills, Role Related Knowlege (RRK), and Personality.

Exponential technologies take exponentional organizations, otherwise your cost will grow linearly (or worse) with your revenue. You do not want that for a plethora of reasons. This means that while RRK is useful, by itself it can prevent a person from be willing to work himself out of a job. I will explain.

I definitely look for outstanding execution of operations, but I also look for the ability to make yourself obsolete, leveraging what a COO learns from the operations to set aggressive goals to eliminate, automate, think bigger and bigger.

In my process hire I believe:

- Hiring is full contact martial art and I believe in getting actively involved into that... After all, people is not the main thing in my business, it is the ONLY thing, since I am in a non-capital-intensive industry.
- Set very high hiring standards and do NOT negotiate them
- Related to that, create specific rubrics before going out hunting. What specifically I should look for not only in terms of RRK and experience, but how will I assess culture fit, and general cognitive abilities necessary for the person to drive transformation.

Back to your question, before looking at your internal talent pool and making decisions like should I promote or search externally, do think what the professional looks like, have that rubric, and THEN see if you have the person. The bar to promote should be as high and as unegotiable as the one you use to hire externally. Those are my two cents.

Answered 7 years ago

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