The primary responsibility of the Chief Operations Officer (COO) is the day-to-day oversight of agency processes. S(he) typically reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and works closely with all departments heads — Account Service, Creative, Media, IT, Accounting, and Traffic.
The COO may also be known as the Director of Operations and, in some smaller agencies, carry the simultaneous title of President. The role of COO is highly situational, varying from company to company and industry to industry
The COO aids in the development, design, operation, and improvement of the systems that create and deliver the agency’s products (e.g. Accounting and workflow management systems, IT tools, etc.). S(he) helps ensure that business operations are efficient and effective. This is accomplished by overseeing the proper management of resources, distribution of goods and services to customers, and ongoing analysis of systems.
Other COO responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Developing and conveying the agency’s mission statement to lower-ranking staff
- Implementing appropriate reward and recognition programs
- Maintaining and monitoring staffing requirements for meeting agency goals and expectations
- Recommending corrective measures for aligning personnel with company goals
- Carefully prioritizing customer, employee and agency needs
- Helping to define and monitor performance measures for the overall agency
- Maintaining a strong, trust-based relationship with the CEO and other top-level executives
- Driving the agency to achieve (and surpass) sales, profitability and cash flow goals and objectives
- Conducting regular meetings with department heads to ensure that priorities are clear
- Facilitating the resolution of issues between departments
Through these actions, the COO fosters a success-oriented, accountable environment within the agency. S(he) conveys this atmosphere to outside clients, investors, and business partners as well.
Reaction |rēˈakSHən| A mode of thinking or behaving that is deliberately different from previous modes of thought and behavior
While a Traffic Manager, I was exposed to a wide range of personality types on a daily basis — introverts and extroverts, the rational and the irrational. While I couldn’t control the behavior of those around me, or predict what their attitudes would be like on any given day, I could control my reaction to them.
I learned, very quickly, that if I fed into the negative energy of an employee, the situation only worsened. If I combated that negativity with patience and a positive attitude, things changed — for the better — very quickly. I learned to listen to what (s)he was saying, essentially serving as a “sounding board.” I’d then offer my outside view of the situation and, more often than not, help diffuse it.
I can’t stress this point enough — Don’t underestimate your power, as a Traffic Manager, to influence those around you positively. Just walking through the halls with a scowl on your face or a frenzied, negative energy about you can impact the entire agency. Smile… and listen.
At some point in an agency’s future, exponential growth will (hopefully) become a factor.
With an increased workload comes the need for a second Traffic Manager. S(he) is either equal in rank to the existing Traffic Manager (i.e. a Co-Manager) or serves in a support capacity (i.e. an Assistant Traffic Manager). When bringing a Co-Manager on board, there are several phases to consider.
Phase 1: “Lay of the land”
During this phase, the new hire is given an overview of the agency structure and workflow process, including the project management software that’s been implemented. Observation of employee communication styles, working relationships and team dynamics is very important. The Co-Manager should “shadow” the Traffic Manager for at least 3-4 days.
Phase 2: “This, that and the other”
Routing of materials, meeting attendance and proofreading are important aspects of Phase 2. This gives the Co-Manager a better understanding of which employees manage specific accounts, how Clients communicate with the agency and any style requirements (e.g. logos, legal approval, font preferences, etc.). This phase should last anywhere from 1-2 weeks, depending on how quickly s(he) learns agency processes.
Phase 3: “Updating the system”
During Phase 3, the Co-Manager is granted additional permissions within the workflow system (e.g. CurrentTrack®). S(he) is allowed to update existing job Workback Schedules and to open new jobs, at the direction of the Traffic Manager. As projects continue to move forward, s(he) makes the proper notations in the system. Again, this phase should last between 1-2 weeks.
Phase 4: “Division of clients”
At this point, the Co-Manager has become familiar with employee roles and communication styles. S(he) knows how to physically move work throughout the agency and is comfortable using the workflow system. During Phase 4, the client list is divided between the Traffic Manager and Co-Manager. This division may be based on individual client workload, alphabetical name or other criteria. Use your best judgement when dividing the client list. You don’t want to overwhelm the new Manager or burden the existing Traffic Manager. Afterall, the new hire was brought on board to help him/her better manage the increasing workload.
For some agencies, the above phases may be condensed (or lengthened) depending on the individual(s) responsible for managing the traffic process. Regardless, the Co-Manager must have a strong foundation upon which to build his/her traffic role.