Hands-Off CEO Podcast


How to Hire an Operations Manager – E14

One of the most valuable people on your team is your operations manager. They get you out of the day to day, so you can focus on growing your company. So where can you find one? Today on the show, we have Jeremy Pope, the founder of The Closing Engine, who is interviewing Mandi on how to hire an operations manager, even if you don’t have the budget for one yet.

What qualities do you look for in an operations manager?  

You want to look for someone with a complementary skill set to yours, because the way a founder thinks is different from the way an operations manager would think. Where Mandi prevents the follow through, her operations manager is able to lead the team and make things happen.

You want to be able to set your vision — the why — and then step back so they can execute the how.

Bridging that gap between A Players and your budget

Top players on your team are worth their weight in gold, but sometimes the reality is, you just don’t have the money to pay for that level of person yet.

Do you have a project manager that you can promote to operations managers? Or perhaps you have or can hire an assistant you can later promote to project manager, who you can then later promote to be your operations manager? What’s important is that they have the right way of thinking. You want someone who’s a pro at being proactive and can anticipate the needs of the company and the employer.   

You don’t always have to hire out. (Though if you are hiring, Mandi shares which qualities to look for.)

Finding a good fit

Don’t hire people and then find positions for them. Do it if it makes sense, but you want to be setting roles, and then hiring people for those roles.

What you don’t want to hear is something to the effect of them wanting to start their own company. You want a right hand, not a CEO; those are two very different people. What you want to hear instead is the magical phrase: “I just love taking someone else’s vision and putting it into reality.”

An operations manager or a partner?

A lot of companies look for a partner instead of an operations manager. The problem is, a partnership is 50/50. There’s no CEO. And when nobody is in charge of driving the ship, you end up at a stalemate.

Some people jump into looking for a partner because they think they can’t afford an operations manager, but there are ways to fill that role without taking out loans: add more value to your services so you can charge more. Mandi shares some tips on how you can do that.

Growing somebody into the operations manager role

To begin the process, take a look at where the gap is for you to be ready for that next level, and then use the project manager (for example), to fill in that gap and build out the systems they’ll be stepping into and managing. This is the training ground that elevates your project manager into an operations manager.

It’s also important to have an early detection warning system so you know when your projects are in the yellow. When that happens, have your team come to you with suggestions and solutions, and eventually, you’ll be completely out of those meetings.

Even if you do get pulled in, it will be in predictable places.  

The real problem is not necessarily that business owners are doing day-to-day work, it’s that they’re doing unexpected day-to-day work and fighting fires. It’s distracting and draining.


Jeremy Pope (LinkedIn)

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business (Amazon)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable


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