Takeaways from Building the Executive Office 3.0 from the Chief of Staff Summit panel.
Note: please see the following summary of the core ideas from this conversation at the Summit. We did our best to clarify the ideas for you. Please refer to the video for specific details, ideas, and context.
Moderated by: Alexandra Aitchison VP of Business Development and Strategy at Tack Advisors
- Taylor Allison Executive Coach at Tack Advisors
- Philip Braddock Chief of Staff to the CFO at Atlassian
- Stephen Levin Head of Business Operations at Zapier
- Alexis Teixeira Deputy Chief of Staff at Carta
How the office of the CEO has changed?
Stephen: The Office of the CEO at Zapier started with just me reporting as an individual to Wade three or four years ago now. As the company grew, this office had to evolve to fit the specific needs of the company over time. And we very specifically expect my role a hybrid Chief of Staff / Biz Ops thing [situation] will be split out eventually.
Alexis: When I joined, I was the first deputy Chief of Staff. Previously the origination of our Office of the CEO was structured, there was only one EA, then was a personal assistant was brought on, a Chief of Staff, and now a Deputy Chief of Staff. Even throughout the time that I've been there, it's been about a year and our company's grown from 700 to 1500+ employees, our office has needed to scale and evolve. I've seen our Chief of Staff become the Chief Marketing Officer. With all those different permutations, I have had to either fill gaps or ask other people to fill gaps.
How a deputy of Chief of Staff role can evolve:
Alexis: Originally, we envisioned the Chief of Staff would run primary across all initiatives, and then the Deputy Chief of Staff would support it. It has evolved. Now, our Chief of Staff runs primary on some and I [Deputy Chief of Staff] run primary on others... Being constantly in-sync with the Chief of Staff has been key for our success.
On ways to be more effective:
Taylor: Have one main method of communication, and then another one for urgent or emergency messages. Another idea is: as people's responsibilities are shifting and changing, have a no blame policy when things go wrong.
How to reduce burn-out:
Phil: for about the past three months, we've been running a company wide, every other week survey. These are super lightweight. We've even gotten to the point where we're asking people how are you doing by answering thumbs up, or thumbs down, etc. We're trying to really simplify the cognitive load for people. We’ve also decentralized some of the health and wellness initiatives. For example, in finance, we do once a quarter “a creative refresh day”, which is basically a free day off. You don't have to clock it against your PTO.
Alexis: we have a minimum PTO program.
On managing your own career growth:
Stephen: focus on building trust and solving problems across executive teams and the Office of the CEO. Asked executives: “Hey, is there anything I can do for you in one day or less that will make your life easier? What is that one thing that just really annoys you, but no one ever has the bandwidth to take on?” Then, just go fix it. Aim to continuously take on the company's most challenging problems.
Phil: There are plenty of opportunities at growing companies, not just opportunities to become a Chief of Staff. Try to embrace of the ambiguity in your role.