Skip to content Skip to footer

How to Build a Prosperous Chief of Staff and Founder Partnership

Hiring a chief of staff is the first step to get your time back as a founder. These tips will help you set up a strong and successful chief of staff and founder relationship.

Key takeaways:

  • A chief of staff steps in to handle a wide range of tasks, helping the founder free up time to focus on business growth
  • Tips to manage a chief of staff and founder relationship:
    • Know how to hire the right person
    • Focus on the first few months
    • Be clear about expectations
    • Spend a lot of time together
    • Involve the whole team

    Do you need a chief of staff (CoS)? Founders are notorious for taking on too much work for their business. They’re extremely attached to its successes and failures, and they want to have a hand in every aspect of both the day-to-day and the big-picture planning. Unfortunately, this kind of time and effort isn’t sustainable for founders. 

    One solution is hiring a CoS. These experts come in and take a lot of administrative and strategic tasks, and other minutiae  off the founder’s plate. However, the CoS and founder relationship needs to be on a strong foundation to ensure success. 

    This is your guide on how to foster a successful, long-lasting CoS and founder partnership.

    What does a CoS do?

    First, let’s cover the basics of this role. CoS responsibilities will look different for each company. But they typically take on tasks that the founder has been handling and provide support to business leaders. Duties may include:

    • Handling scheduling for the founder
    • Planning and leading meetings and ensuring the founder is prepared for meetings
    • Identifying and tracking key business metrics 
    • Working on business strategy planning with executives
    • Overseeing operational processes
    • Providing business recommendations to the founder
    • Communicating with team members on behalf of the founder
    • Resolving everyday problems that don’t require the founder’s signoff

    Think of the CoS as the primary point person to the founder who can handle operations, strategy, administrative, HR, and marketing tasks. These professionals are much more than assistants. CoS’ are critical in ensuring that executives get tasks completed that they just don’t have time for. Founders can easily get weighed down by everything they have to do, and operations end up suffering, also. 

    Hiring a CoS allows founders to get some of their time back. This allows them to focus on the big picture for the business, ensuring it’s set up for a successful future.

    Tips for managing the CoS and founder relationship

    The relationship between the top executive and their CoS must be carefully nurtured and built to last. Here are a few strategies to help you ensure the CoS and founder relationship will be successful:

    1. Know how to hire the right person

    A great relationship starts with the hiring process. Finding a great CoS is not always easy. You need to have clear goals outlined about what you want this position to accomplish and the traits and experience that will make it happen. 

    Finding the right person may take time. Consider looking within your internal team to see if there’s a great candidate already waiting for you. Create an interview scorecard that will help you assess someone in the moment based on the competencies you’re looking for. Focus on how the two of you communicate to see if it feels comfortable. Learn about their career goals and why they want the job.

    Always pay attention to gut feelings, especially when you’re dealing with someone who will be working so closely with you. It’s essential to have a good personal and working relationship with your CoS. 

    2. Focus on the first few months

    The first 60 to 90 days are critical to setting up a successful relationship. The founder may have to spend more time with the CoS initially to onboard the new hire and set up expectations for the role. This initial period, and the level of cooperation and collaboration that exists, will be instrumental in determining how the rest of the partnership will go. 

    3. Be clear about expectations

    CoS’ are usually self-starters. They’re motivated and have great ideas to help the business. They have experience managing offices or working in business administration, so they are familiar with high-level concerns. 

    These are all positives for the founder and the business as a whole. However, it’s important to establish clear expectations of what is and isn’t this person’s job. If the Cos should have flexibility to create whatever role they see fit, that needs to be clear. If the founder only wants assistance with one primary area, it needs to be communicated that the CoS should closely follow directions and not much else.

    Setting up expectations from the beginning ensures there is no confusion. It allows the partnership to thrive.

    4. Spend a lot of time together

    CoS’ and founders work very closely. In the beginning, they need to spend a lot of time communicating and getting to know each other. They need to be able to trust one another and understand the other person’s personality traits.

    Implement a system where the CoS is almost shadowing the founder for the initial weeks and months. In this time they should get to know the role, expectations, and leadership styles.

    5. Involve the whole team

    The CoS will work with more people than just the founder. Whatever the size of the team, make sure they are integrating with others. This role will work with nearly everyone, so it’s important to establish relationships early on. 

    Founders are typically the ones having to manage and appease everyone, so ensuring that the CoS can take on this role will strengthen their partnership and create a stronger overall team.

    How can Chiefly Consultants help?

    Finding the right CoS and fostering a strong partnership ensures you can focus more on growing and improving your business. Make sure it’s a relationship you prioritize with clear expectations set up from the beginning. 

    When you need help managing operations and daily responsibilities for your business, the team at Chiefly Consultants is ready to help you get the support you need. We provide outsourced CoS services so you can have all the benefits of an in-house CoS while working with someone on a fractional basis. Our professionals can work with you on sales and marketing, administration, human resources, technology, and finance.

    Reach out to Chiefly Consultants today to schedule a free consultation.

    Leave a comment