Uncovering the Chief of Staff’s Purpose

Introduction

There are a lot of instances where I get asked about my role. What do you do? What is your focus? Are you HR, operations, and/or strategy? What function are you part of? 

My answer usually starts with something along the lines of, “Well, it depends.” And for Chiefs of Staff at other organizations, their answers will likely be different than mine. 

The Chief of Staff, while wearing many hats and seeming cross-functional or horizontal at all times, has a distinct and particular purpose. From a tactical standpoint, we all operate differently. The role we take on is unique to the needs of our organizations. 

From a strategic standpoint, however, we’re all on the same mission. 

Drive organizational effectiveness. 

Everything you do as a Chief of Staff has the potential to drive effectiveness for the organization. It may be hard to see at first, but through the power of OKRs you can create a measurable difference for how your organization executes.

Understanding ‘Effectiveness’ 

Effectiveness is not the same as efficiency

We often mistake efficiency as a grand achievement. Just because something is faster or smarter doesn’t mean it’s helping drive the organization forward. 

Efficiency isn’t the mission. Efficiency is a tool in accomplishing effectiveness.

If increased efficiency improves the creation/significance of outputs, then increased effectiveness improves how we create more outstanding outcomes.

When you drive efficiency, you improve outputs. 

When you drive effectiveness, you improve outcomes. 

Driving outcomes is what helps propel an organization forward on its path to accomplishing its mission. 

OKRs: The Effectiveness Framework 

Thankfully, you can implement a single framework that balances, manages, and measures effectiveness for your organization from all angles. Music to every Chief of Staff’s ears!

The framework is called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). If managed and supported correctly, OKRs can do wonders for you, your team’s and your organization’s everyday effectiveness.

OKRs separate themselves from other performance, management, or operational frameworks because it drives a focus on outcomes rather than outputs

In a world focused on efficiency thanks to the use of hundreds of other frameworks, OKRs inform us about what these frameworks are doing to help achieve our mission. 

Getting OKRs started on the right foot 

OKRs aren’t easy. 

They take time, effort, and investment to see results. Even though OKRs are a long-term investment, you can make short-term progress today. 

Before thinking about what makes a good OKR and how many Key Results you should have, you’ll need to zoom out and ensure you’ve laid a solid foundation for OKR success. 

As a Chief of Staff, you have a unique perspective to leverage and lead your OKR rollout. Perhaps, even be your organization’s OKR Champion!

The approaches will differ, but critical factors for your OKR success include: 

  • Leadership buy-in to OKRs as a principle 
  • Leadership engagement with OKRs 
  • Ownership of the OKRs process 
  • An understanding of what OKRs should look like in your organization 
  • Comprehension of what your own Chief of Staff OKRs may be 

To learn more about your approach these challenges and using OKRs to support you (as a Chief of Staff) on reaching your purpose and driving your organization’s effectiveness, download our whitepaper on Driving Organizational Effectiveness as a Chief of Staff. 

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