Whether or not this role is new for an organization, every new hire in a Chief of Staff position typically has the ability to make it their own. Why? The role is somewhat malleable to the person who assumes it. Of course, there are responsibilities every person must fulfill, but there is also a large “other duties as assigned” category – where you have more leeway to design the role to your skills and interests.
While we think of the COS position as a “catch-all,” it doesn’t mean you should jump in to it with no definition or plan for development.
Writing Your Position Description
A LOT of Chief of Staff position descriptions are way too vague. If you are with an organization that wrote a position description for the job, review it and see if it adequately addresses what you will be doing. If not, ask to revise it. If your role is new, it is likely a position description may not even exist.
Having the ability to write or re-write your position description is an opportunity to create the Chief of Staff position around your specific skill sets and strengths. Revising this role enables someone to maximize all of their potential.
To be sure, there are some aspects and responsibilities of this role that almost every Chief of Staff is expected to handle. The six key functions are outlined on our website. However, outside of these key responsibilities, you can help define where your duties will lie.
After conversations with key staff and your principal, you should be able to better understand important areas where you can be effective. For example, let’s say you enjoy people-strategy and received a degree in Psychology. You learn that the company is in high-growth mode, expanding from 6 employees last year to over 26 this year. There are likely going to be organizational challenges, as well as hiring processes and decisions that will need to be strategized and employed as you continue to grow. Another example, say there is a large data integrity project and given your background with IT at a former employer, you have the experience and know-how to lead and tackle that project. Outlining key responsibilities and projects that will fall on your plate is important to determine as much as possible at the outset. It ensures both you and the company have some guideline for your responsibilities and are thinking strategically about how you will be most productive.
Devising Your Development Plan
In addition to writing your position description, another great way to be proactive during the COS hiring process is to create a development plan. Obviously, you will want to go over this plan with your prospective employer to make sure they agree with your milestones and timelines. However, they almost always appreciate the proactive approach toward your development—and it takes one less thing off of their plate!
Creating a framework for your development and productivity is a great way to establish developmental milestones in the Chief of Staff role and better measure your progress. Agreeing on this development plan at the outset of a new Chief of Staff role also ensures you and the company align on expectations and where you’re headed.
The purpose of the development plan isn’t to cast in stone every single thing you should do during your tenure in the role. However, it does create some boundaries to better assess your areas of growth and where you and the company may need to improve. Use the outline below to help you get started with your development plan. Note that timeframes and milestones will vary depending on your specific role, company, background, and aspirations.
Want more help writing a position description OR your development plan? Contact us for a career advisory session.