Completed Staff Work

“Completed staff work” is the study of a problem or a task, and presentation of a solution, by an officer, in such form that all that remains to be done on the next of the head of the function or a department or by the Managing Director/CEO, is to indicate his approval or disapproval of the completed action. The words “Completed Action” are emphasized because the more difficult the problem/task is, the more the tendency is to present the problem to the chief in piecemeal fashion. It is your duty as an officer to work out the details. You should not consult your chief in the determination of these details, no matter how perplexing they may be. You may and should consult other officers, as necessary. The product, whether it involves the pronouncement of a new policy or affects an established one, should, when presented to the chief for approval or disapproval, be worked out in finished form.

2. The impulse which often comes to the officer to ask the Chief what to do recurs more often when the problem/task is difficult one. It is accompanied by a feeling of mental frustration or anxiety. It is so easy to ask the chief (which many bosses have a tendency to like it i.e. dependency on the boss) what to do, and it appears so easy for him to answer. Resist that impulse. You will succumb to it only if you do not know your job. It is your job to advise your chief what he ought to do, to ask him what you ought to do. He needs answers. Not questions. Your job is to study, write, restudy and rewrite until you have evolved a single proposed action-the best one of all you have considered. Your chief mere approves or disapproves it.

3. Do not worry your chief with long explanations and memoranda. Writing a memorandum to your chief does not constitute completed staff work, but writing a memorandum for your chief to send to someone else does. Your views should be placed before him in finished form so that he can make them his views simply by signing his name. In most instances, completed staff work results in a single document prepared for the signature of the chief, without accompanying comment. If the proper result is reached, the chief will usually recognize it at once. If he wants comment or explanation, he will ask for it.

4.The theory of completed staff work does not preclude a “rough draft” but the rough draft must not be half baked idea. It must be complete in every respect except that it lacks the requisite number of copies and need not be neat. But a draft must not be used as an excuse for shifting to the chief the burden of formulating the action.

5.The “completed staff work” theory may result in more work for the officer, but it results in more freedom for the chief and it amounts to effective delegation. Further it accomplishes two things:
a) The chief is protected from half-baked ideas, voluminous memoranda and immature oral presentations.
b) The officer who has a real idea to sell is enabled more readily to find a market.

6) When you have finished your “Completed Staff Work” the final test is this: If you were the chief would you be willing to sign the paper you have prepared and stake your professional reputation on its being right? If the answer is in the negative, take it back and work it over because it is not yet ` “Completed Staff work”.

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