July 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm #179504
“Other duties as assigned”
If you’re a government employee, you probably have some variation of the catch-all category above somewhere in your position description or performance plan. And we all joke around about the miscellany that gets shoved under that category (Office Social Chair, Official Note Taker, etc.).
I recently embarked on a detail in a position that seems to spend much, if not most, of its time in that category: chief of staff.
While there are some clear responsibilities for advising, assisting, coordinating, and holding accountable on behalf of the execute for whom I am working, there are an awful lot of blanks to fill in.
To an extent, my uncertainty is a result of my inexperience with this position, but my conversations with other chiefs suggest that I’m not entirely alone.
One thing I do get is that a chief of staff has to be almost wholly focused on the exec. he or she serves — on her schedule, her action items, her follow-up, her professional relationships, what she will and won’t eat for lunch, etc. This job puts the service inside public service.
But what do I know? I’ve been at this for 3 weeks. I want to hear from those of you who’ve done this before: What 3 qualities or duties do you think best exemplify a chief of staff?
July 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm #179520
You may find this discussion interesting.
July 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm #179518
IMO Unlike most posistions Chief of Staff has ONE responsibility only: to support the executive in whatever they may want or need
July 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm #179516
They used to call us secretaries. We knew everyone in the bureau – at least on sight, we understood the agency’s major issues and could at least listen to leadership talk about them without getting completely lost. We had a clear grasp of organizational history. We could tell a hot button from a cold fish and could tell when the Exec was going from affable to angry instantly.
Oh….and we could type 80 wpm. Many times the typing was the most important part of the job. Our skill and knowledge of the grammar and usage of the English language was second-to-none. We kept many people who were far above our paygrade from sounding stupid on paper.
They don’t need secretaries anymore. They have GS-13 Chiefs of Staff to do the first paragraph and GS-4 mindless typists who do the second. And they call it “multi-tasking.”
July 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm #179514
Karen “Kari” UhlmanParticipant
Wikipedia states:The title, Chief of Staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer (PSO), who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide-de-camp to an important individual, such as a president.
August 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm #179512
Wow, very thoughtful and helpful, Peter — should’ve searched for something like this first.
August 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm #179510
I have seen in my short time in this role that a lot of the work is exactly of the sort you describe — and I see many exec’s admin assistants performing that sort of work quite well. One big difference, it appears, is the COS’s role in holding people accountable in a managerial capacity and managing projects over senior staff.
August 6, 2013 at 2:51 am #179508
David B. GrinbergParticipant
Top three qualities:
3) Open door policy
Know anyone like that, Dave? You perhaps!
August 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm #179506
That’s very kind, David — thanks. It helps that no one expects me to know what I’m doing, so if I shrug and say, “I don’t know,” it’s absolutely true.
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