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What Does a Chief of Staff Do?

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March 18, 2022Interviewing Startups Executive Search

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A chief of staff (COS) plays a critical role in a company’s leadership and executive team. They are also commonly known as Chief Executive Assistants because they plan, coordinate, and implement key strategies on the behalf of executive leaders in the organization.  

A variety of firms in the U.S. employ Chiefs of Staff with successful results. Here are a few firms with Chiefs of Staff:

As of today, there are thousands of chief of staff jobs in the U.S. And for good reason—the COS role empowers organizations to succeed by:

  • Maximizing time
  • Elevating decision making
  • Bolstering efficiency

Ninety percent of executives believe the way they conduct business will radically change in the next five years. Therefore, chiefs of staff play a critical role in safeguarding the viability of your organization. 

Let’s dive more into what a chief of staff does, so you can leverage these insights to scale your business strategically. 

What Is the Role of a Chief of Staff? 

The role of a chief of staff varies across businesses and industries. The overall role of a COS is to: 

  • Unite their workforce to amplify productivity and impact
  • Initiate strategic plans to ensure all business functions are efficient and productive

 

  • Verify that short-term goals are aligned with the long-term goals of the business
  • Act as a trusted advisor to the CEO

4 Chief of Staff Characteristics

Strong chiefs of staff possess the following characteristics: 

  1. Superb communication: They consistently communicate with executive leaders to stay attuned with organizational initiatives. This involves fostering positive relationships to instill trust and communication across departments.

  2. Organization: Chiefs of staff may help executive leaders prioritize projects and decisions. Another major part is reviewing and adjusting metrics to accurately track progress. 
  3. Objective: They are data-driven and business-minded individuals. In addition, a strong COS makes clear-headed decisions under pressure. 
  4. Effective process manager: Chiefs of staff ensure their CEO’s involvement in a project takes place at the right place and at the right time. They also keep the CEO abreast of the company climate (e.g. project statuses, new initiatives, employee wellbeing, etc.).

What Is a Chief of Staff Responsible For?

Here are six primary responsibilities of a Chief of staff.  

  • Acts as Liaison between Executives and Employees
    • A chief of staff stays up-to-date on all workforce matters, including employee progress, work, and efficiency. They keep current on projects within the organization, so they can consult with their CEO on decisions large and small.
  • Organizes the Workforce
    • Chiefs of staff oversee managerial and administrative responsibilities to ease the burden for the executive team. They are responsible for all levels of administrative assistance from managerial responsibilities to organization-wide projects. 
  • Closes Communication Gaps
    • A chief of staff assists in identifying communication gaps. They find solutions and close those gaps. They Might achieve this by:
      • Assigning the right employees to fill communication gaps
      • Streamlining how information is shared between departments via software tools
  • Assists with the Hiring Process
    • In partnership with HR teams and other essential personnel, the chief of staff assists with the hiring process, including screening higher-level candidates before the first interview, outlining the hiring/interviewing process, and drafting job descriptions.
    • When needed, a chief of staff may hire supplementary executive support roles to assist them in their own tasks.
  • Collaborates with Other Executives
    • Whether it’s with other executives or the chief of staff under another higher-up, chiefs of staff help close the gap between their department’s efforts with other higher-level employees. This ensures the company remains unified without communications gaps and redundancies.
  • Facilitates Strategic Implementation
    • It is the responsibility of the chief of staff to coordinate and ensure that employees are participating in workplace initiatives. They collect and correlate metrics to present to the executive team to provide updates on implementation.

What Are the 5 Benefits of Having a Chief of Staff?

With the chief responsibilities above fulfilled by a COS, your company can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Save time: Your executive team likely already has enough on their plates. By recruiting a chief of staff to help with the heavy lifting, your executives have more time to address other high-value initiatives—initiatives that are aligned with a leader’s area of expertise. 
  • Bolster productivity: A chief of staff can root out operational inefficiencies (e.g. manual processes) and help employees become more productive. This can result in significant cost savings in the long run.
  • More data-driven decisions: A chief of staff compiles reports on all aspects of a business. Accurate and up-to-date data allows the executive team to make better-informed decisions. This gives them the advantage when making decisions for the company. 
  • Facilitate better communication: Transparency and communication are key to any organization. A chief of staff can bridge any gaps between the executive team and employees, allowing both parties to communicate more effectively. 

What Does a COS in a Technology Company Do? 

COS roles differ across businesses—it depends on the industry, what stage the company is in, and the CEO. 

Here’s an example of what a COS role looks like at a  tech company:

  • They identify workplace skill gaps: Due to their reliance on automation and data, tech companies tend to undergo several updates—updates that affect both their product/service and customers. With this, there are oversights that become apertures in the talent pool. 

A chief of staff identifies these gaps in advance and finds solutions. At an established tech firm, there may be various chiefs of staff who oversee skills gaps in their respective focus areas (e.g. product, marketing, finance, etc.).

  • They reshape organizational charts: Rapid change brings the challenge of redefining and restructuring the workforce. A chief of staff can help better define managerial roles and structures to optimize daily operations. 
  • They maintain budget authority: With the assistance of the finance team, chiefs of staff can also manage income and expense reports. This helps maintain corporate compliance while also ensuring a close understanding of finances.

What is a COS in a Startup Accountable For? 

Another area where a COS may embody a unique role is in startups. This is due to various gaps in both the executive and staff level—not every startup begins with a full roster of C-level executives, nor do they have a full lineup of team managers from the beginning.

Therefore, a chief of staff in a startup will likely take on a more diverse range of responsibilities than at an established company.

Instead of having an area of focus, they may be responsible for several fields such as sales management, product development, marketing, and more. 

When Should You Hire a Chief of Staff?

Look into premium recruitment services for a chief of staff when:

  • You want to boost your company’s performance but are unable to define what exact areas need fine-tuning. Your executive team may not understand the right strategies or skill sets required to achieve specific performance goals. They may not even have the time to take care of these matters. Whatever the case, a COS can take this on and utilize their data-driven mindset and analytical approach to spearhead these initiatives. 
  • You want to be proactive—not reactive: Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. If you find that your executive team is primarily putting out fires, you need to hire a chief of staff. Your COS can work to consider future opportunities to help the organization take a more proactive approach. 

Find Your Ideal Chief of Staff with Hunt Club 

Chiefs of staff are often the unsung heroes whose impact can be felt at all levels of an organization. If you’re ready to begin your COS search, consider partnering with Hunt Club. 

With our track record, you can trust that we’ll find the right people to fill your positions. Ready to start the hunt? Contact our talent experts today to get started.

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Amanda Price avatarAmanda Price