How to Hire an Operations Manager for Your Startup

All startups need to be lean, which means hiring needs to be as tightly controlled as possible. So, probably you think why you need an operations manager?

There’s a balance to be struck in hiring the team members that will make workflow easier to achieve while ensuring that budgeting is kept to a tight limit. That’s where an operations manager comes in. Launching and running any startup will require a wide range of tasks, often taking you or your team members away from more critical activities.

An operations manager will be able to take ownership of those daily activities so that other team members can focus on their specialities. By establishing policies and designing business processes, this manager will improve productivity and startup efficiency.

Hiring the right operations manager will mean having an established understanding of the role and the qualities to look out for in the hiring process.

Operations Managers – The Role

From a broad perspective, all managers are operations managers in that they have to manage their teams. However, a dedicated operations manager will manage the activities directly tied to goods production and the provision of services. This means that they will have a variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Designing a business strategy
  • Planning processes
  • Controlling costs
  • Identifying performance improvement strategies

They will also have some indirect responsibilities that are vital in the startup environment, including:

HR Management:

HR managers will be involved in identifying the roles that need to be filled and ensuring that the recruitment process is cost-effective and efficient.

Asset Management:

All startups will have their key assets, from real estate and equipment to stock or business equipment. These will affect the operations managers as they are vital for the function of the startup and its operations.

Financial Management:

Managing costs in a startup are critical, and an operations manager will need to understand accounting and spreadsheet use.

These managers need to be good at decision-making. They will be required to make the right choices at the right time. This is important, especially when it comes to designing and managing systems. He will also need to be able to make improvements to those systems. Kettering University Online has identified the five current challenges for operations management, and you will need to be aware of those challenges when it comes to recruiting the right operations manager. The key responsibilities of an operations manager will be making decisions regarding:

  • The production of goods/services
  • Quality control
  • Stock control and inventory management
  • People management

Due to the wide range of responsibilities, finding the right operations manager can be a critical task that can significantly impact a startup’s potential.

The Key Qualities of an Operations Manager

A successful operations manager has some core traits that you will want to look out for during the recruitment stage. These traits will be incredibly beneficial to your startup as a whole. But especially when it comes to the duties of the operations manager. These are:


Operations managers need to be leaders. But, they also need to have a good grounding in terms of knowing the facts. That means they should have experience in designing feedback processes and implementing change based on that feedback. A good operations manager will empower your team members, building proactive relationships with key personnel. They will need to ensure that such lines of communication are open at all times. Operations managers will have realistic goals. That grounded, fact-based approach will be the key to achieving those goals and developing new strategies for growth.


Operations management is all about making improvements to efficiency. That means your operations manager will need to have provable skills when it comes to managing resources. Efficiency is the primary weapon in any startup’s arsenal. A good operations manager will identify critical areas to make savings without harming the product quality or customer service. This is done via a variety of efficiency models that focus on production costs and quality. While different departments will have their own goals, that siloed approach can be harmful to efficiency, which is why having an operations manager that focuses on the overall objectives of your startup is so essential.

Quality Control:

This is one of the critical functions of your operations manager. So, you need to ensure that your potential hire understands the need to manage suppliers. Using the wrong suppliers can cause serious damage to a startup that is already working with a bootstrap mentality. If a supplier has consistent issues with product quality, that will have a domino effect on the quality of your product and your ability to provide complete customer service. Operations managers will pay a lot of attention to suppliers and ensure that high standards are kept while costs are more effectively managed. However, it’s not just about the costs of operation. A good operations manager will also be doing their part in improving productivity and profit generation.

Supply Chain Management:

While the quality of the supplied products will be essential to monitor, so will the supply chain itself. Supply chain management is one of the core responsibilities of the operations manager. They will need to design and execute the supply chain strategies that reduce risks and boost productivity. At the same time, they will need to ensure remaining agile enough to respond quickly to demand fluctuations. Your operations manager will need to build relationships with suppliers to align goals, and collaboration from B2B entities is as streamlined as possible.

Ideally, the person you hire as your operations manager will have provable experience of office processes and money management, as well as the technical skills highlighted here. Additionally, ensure that they have the basics of:

Make sure as well that your operations manager is right for your startup culture. It will be expensive and frustrating to hire someone with the right skill sets to find they are not a good fit for your startup space or way of working.

When you are planning to hire an operations manager for your startup, take your time. Look for someone that not only has the right skills but is also keen to learn and willing to commit. When the right operations manager can transform your potential to succeed, rushing into a hire could be fatal for your startup.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan