Peoplebox

Chief of Staff 101: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

Starting your career as chief of staff or hiring one for the first time. This guide will help you with everything you want to know about the chief of staff job profile and resposnbilites.
Sagrika Mehta

Sagrika Mehta

What is the chief of staff?

“CoS serve as an air traffic controller for the leader and the senior team; as an integrator connecting workstreams that would otherwise remain siloed; as a communicator linking the leadership team and the broader organization; as an honest broker and truth-teller when the leader needs a wide-ranging view without turf considerations; and as a confidant without an organizational agenda” – CoS, Patrick Aylward, CoS at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

A chief of staff is the right hand of a CEO and he is responsible to maintains momentum within the organization to multiply the efforts of the CEO. He assists in the planning and implementation of long-term and short-term goals in the organization.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the chief of staff

Though the roles and responsibilities of the chief of staff vary drastically from one company to other. Still, there are a few common responsibilities of a chief of staff –

  1. Attending meetings on behalf of key leaders if they are not available.
  2. Helping their boss in prioritizing their tasks and appointments.
  3. Drafting first drafts of proposals, emails, letters, etc. on behalf of their boss.
  4. Jot down the minutes of meetings the key leader is attending and ensure the action items are being worked upon.
  5. Shadowing the key leader in important meetings and calls.
  6. Be the face of the key leader while communicating with major stakeholders and his other counterparts or reportees. 
  7. Suggest new ideas and initiatives to the key leader for the betterment of the organization.
  8. Helping his boss and preparing him for upcoming meetings and providing him with all the necessary information
  9. Taking care of internal and external communications, such as newsletters, speeches, reports, and presentations 
  10. Managing the company in its initiatives and broad programs.
  11. Head the strategic planning processes and ensure ideas between the CEO and other leaders are aligned. 
  12. Helping in the creation of key performance indicators for various teams
  13. Directing members in CEO teams, such as executive assistants and senior project managers.
  14. Handling the budget cycle process and helping managers to prepare their budget presentations.
  15. Researching and defining new business opportunities
  16. Working in sync with the Human Resources team to address potential staffing issues.

Click here to read more about Spoken and Unspoken Responsibilities in Chief of Staff Role in 2022

Chief of staff interview questions

Chief of staff interview questions

Appearing for a chief of staff interview or planning to hire a chief of staff here are a few interview questions which will help you in the process –

1How would you handle disagreements with the C-Suite

Expected answer

As a Chief of staff, I will first try to understand the reason behind the conflict and try to solve it from there and encourage transparency through open communication.

2What types of projects have you handled in your last position?

Expected answers

“In my last role as chief of staff, I led projects which were mostly product-based [ give details about the projects you have handled and let them know success story if any]

3How would you ensure proper communication is established in the organization

Expected answers

I will ensure that clear and transparent communication is fostered among the team by focusing on building effective relationships. WIll implement goals setting techniques like OKR, which fosters transparency and keeps the employees informed about where the company is heading.

Chief of Staff INterview Questions

4What was the most difficult task/area of your previous position as chief of officers?

Expected answers

“As Chief of Staff, I interacted with a wide variety of people every day and have a long to-do list.

Multitasking constantly and checking all the boxes on my to-do list is sometimes challenging.

In such situations, I always seek effective assistance and seek expert opinions and advice.”

5What was the foundation of your relationship with boss in your last position?

Expected answers

“Trust underpins any relationship, including my relationship with my boss. “This has always been my top priority, even in my previous position.”

To get more chief of staff interview questions and their answers click here.

How OKRs can help you drive 10X results

Being a Chief of staff is not an easy task. From ensuring the team’s harmony to managing goals, you do it all. You can ace all these goals effectively by implementing OKR in your organization. Below are a few reasons how OKRs will benefit you –

  • OKRs help the CEO, COS, and other C-suite members to effectively track the progress each team has made.
  • It will save you from burning cash and energy on projects which are not aligned with your organization’s goals.
  • OKRs will help you validate your business plans.
  • Using them helps foster organizational alignment in a cost-effective and transparent manner.
  • With aspirational goals, OKRs fuel speedy yet steady growth.

To read more about this click here.

Why every CEO needs a COS

Every CEO has a lot of work on his plate and it is natural he/she suffers burnout due to this. Having a chief of staff will ensure there is someone to share the load.

We have listed down 9 reasons why you need a chief of staff for the CEO-

  • To gain control over company culture
  • To find people that suit your hiring requirements
  • To share your workload and buy you more time
  • To identify and reduce issues
  • To make better decisions
  • For an effective information Flow

Still need more reasons why every CEO needs a CoS – Click Here

When should you consider hiring a CoS

Here’s a checklist before you hire a chief of staff-

  • When you are finding it difficult to manage the deadlines and start showing signs of burn-out
  • You are not able to prioritise the tasks as every task which is on your plate is important
  • Your team is not performing well even after hiring the best talent
  • You find there is a lack of systematic working in your organization
  • You are planning to scale the business

Click here to read in detail about when is the right time to hire a CoS

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How to be a good Chief of staff

Below are a few tips which will help you to stand out from the crowd –

How to be a good chief of staff

  • You should be able to do multitask with proper time management
  • Work on setting up the right procedure which in turn will help you in better team management and balance the workload.
  • Being a chief of staff you will have a lot on your platter so you should know how to prioritize your tasks
  • You should develop a sense of integrity which will help you build better relations with your stakeholders and open new success opportunities for you.
  • Loyalty is accepted everywhere, here in the workplace too you should be loyal to your boss and organization.

To get a deep insight on how to be a good chief of staff read our complete blog on this topic.

First 90 days of a chief of staff: What should you do

How your first 90 days as chief of staff will look like, take a sneak peek –

  • In the first 15 days, you must invest your time with your boss understanding the procedures and culture of the organization.
  • You should set up one on one meetings and attend most internal meetings of the organization
  • Try and understand the work style of your organization, and establish a proper communication cycle with the team members.
  • Deine your OKRs this will help you to be aligned with your organization’s goal and work towards things which help you achieve your objectives.

To get a detailed insight about the first 90 days as chief of staff click here.

What is the difference between a chief of staff and an HR director?

There is a lot of confusion about how the Chief of staff is different from the HR director. This confusion is generated due to the word staff in the designation of the chief of staff. But the roles are different –

Chief of staff HR Director
They help in the planning of strategies for the organization.
HR Director creates and aligns human resources objectives with organizational goals and requirements.
Lead and manage different projects and activities Frame policies and lead activities related to the HR function
CoS has to create an environment of accountability in all teamsThe HR Director creates accountabilities among HR teams for smooth operation.

To check the difference in detail and see how their roles intersect read our detailed blog Chief of staff vs HR Director

Chief of staff OKR Examples

Trying to craft a OKRs for chief of staff, these example will help you –

Example 1

Objective : Increase goal alignment across the organization

KR 1- Increase OKR adoption to 100% by ensuring everyone owns OKR in the organization

KR 2 -Reduce the number of misaligned objectives to zero

KR 3 – Increase the weekly check-ins per KR from 0.7 to 1

Example 2

Objective : Implement OKRs to drive exceptional business results faster

KR1: Get 100% employees trained on writing OKRs

KR2: 100% of the team own one OKR

KR 3: Ensure every OKR has at least 2 key results

To get more chief of staff OKR examples click here.

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