The Chief-of-Staff is quickly becoming one of the most important C-level hires in companies that are struggling to deliver strategic priorities through the use of best-practice systems and processes like OKRs, KPIs and strategic initiative delivery.
It’s clear that the CEO can’t be everywhere and do everything and the role of the Chief-of-Staff is to be their right-hand person, trusted counsel, and strategy execution and reporting go-to. That said, it’s not a given that the Chief-of-Staff reports to the CEO and there are exceptions like reporting to the COO and CRO for example.
When you review job descriptions for Chief-of-Staff you find phrases like:
You can’t deliver strategy without systems and processes. The Chief-of-Staff is responsible for their implementation and use with a mastery of goal setting frameworks like OKR, KPI management being essential in addition to being fluent in project delivery methodologies like agile.
Here are requirements captured from job descriptions for the Chief-of-Staff roles that emphasize the requirements of being able to implement and manage systems and processes that deliver to a strategic planning process and priorities.
There is no point having a strategy if the business is not continually focused and re-focused in strategy execution and results. This is especially hard as most leaders and teams know that given half a chance, business-as-usual will take over and strategic focus can be lost.
Here are a selection of execution related responsibilities of the Chief-of-Staff.
Having current and accurate views on goals and strategic initiative progress and KPIs is a key pillar of the role of the Chief-of-Staff.
Here are the reporting requirements described in job descriptions for Chief-of-Staff roles that highlight the importance of having access to technology like ZOKRI.
ZOKRI provides Chief-of-Staff with the OKR Software and processes to create strategically aligned goals and initiatives, ensure updates on progress as well as information on blockers are gathered systematically, in addition to being able to monitor and report on operational KPIs.
Not sure what OKRs are, or perhaps you want to know more about the framework? More specifically, what they are, who uses them and how to write them? How about managing OKR cycles and OKR software?
This 5 minute video is an introduction to Objectives and Key Results that describes Objectives & Key Results that will help you deliver your company strategy and exceed your forecasts.
ZOKRI is the most flexible and extendable OKR tool available – it grows with you as your use of Objectives & Key Results matures.
This 2 minute video is a demo of what ZOKRI can do for Chief of Staff looking to platform strategy, goals and KPIs in best practice OKR software.
Here are some of the requirements leading companies describe with regards reporting and the Chief-of-Staff role.
What makes a culture a ‘high performing’ culture is now well understood. Building a world-class culture is achieved by creating a set of shared values, beliefs, attitudes, feelings and a sense of purpose and belonging.
When teams don’t need to think about how to create, work, interact and relate to each other you’re succeeding.
Part of the process of getting there is to create the processes that define how work gets agreed, tracked and done, as well as how learnings will get captured and used.
ZOKRI is a place for proving purpose, clarity, systems, frameworks, processes, structures, policies, and procedures that make better ways of working culture.
Here are references to culture from Chief-of-Staff job ads that highlight the connection between performance and culture.
You can see that performance drivers like strategic focus, goal and executional plan clarity with relevant systems, processes and technology, information flow and reporting are central to the role. What’s not specifically called out but might be implied that would be worth mentioning in job descriptions is:
It’s clear that the role of a Chief-of-Staff requires a particular set of skills and those skills are multi-dimensional. For this reason it is clear that the best Chief-of-Staff candidates are going to be highly prized as their position and skills puts them in a unique position to create significant value in an organization.
Here are some of the personal traits we’ve found that are frequently linked to the role.
According to Glassdoor the average Salary for the Chief-of-Staff in the UK is £74,000 GBP, which is about $100,000 USD.
In the US the value of the role appears to be more with the average salary reported by Salary.com being $220,000 or about £165,000 GBP.
What is behind the huge difference in salaries between the two countries? The assumption would be the value associated with the role, supply and demand.
It would be reasonable to assume that this salary gap will narrow as the job becomes more common, more valued and more in demand in the UK and Europe.
The Chief-of-Staff is responsible for delivering the company. They achieve this through the adoption of better systems and processes that include goal setting methodologies like OKR and KPI Management.
Of course, strategy will not be delivered and goals will not be achieved unless the delivery teams, both functional and cross-functional are kept focused. This means the update and executional cycle cadence needs to be adhered to. When it is reporting up and reporting down becomes easy, as does making any necessary adjustments to plans and resourcing.
Much of this makes it feel like the role of the Chief of Staff is all system and process based, but that would be wrong. Communication skills, both written and verbal are heavily emphasized. The Chief-of-Staff not only needs the ability to align and engage cross-functional teams, they have to be able to work alongside the CEO, the wider leadership team, and external stakeholders as well.
A very important and cool role in our opinion.
Has Your Discovery Of OKRs & The Companies They Help To Lead Markets Got You Excited?
Using The OKR Canvas
An OKR canvas is a great way to practice creating OKRs without resorting to generic OKR examples. Our coaches often use exercises like this for teams learning OKR.
The canvas will guide you to think about and create your OKRs in a structured and best-practice way. It’s a great way to prepare for using OKR software as well if you’re new to OKR.
When you use OKRs you will be pushing against a number of performance levers. These include:
When employees work towards making progress on fewer, more impactful goals, in a collaborative way, they help their team and company achieve more.
Employees tend to focus more, prolong their focus for longer, collaborate more effectively, and learn new skills. They also do less of what makes a lesser impact.
Two levers we therefore push on are ‘effective productivity’ and ‘employee retention’.
These impact revenue and other high level KPIs.