By Michael Israel, Zuper
As a young man still in school, I was fortunate to land a job with IBM in what was then known as the Field Engineering Division. I started as a night dispatcher and parts room clerk; in the succeeding years, I moved on to other responsibilities, including a position at the Northwest Region Field Engineering headquarters in Seattle. During my tenure in that position, I had the good fortune to work for an IBM veteran who became my work coach, life coach, and overall mentor. His name was George Yorgan. I’ve carried the lessons George taught me throughout my entire working career.
One of my key responsibilities was to prepare financial and workforce planning and utilization reports for George. He expected nothing less than perfect accuracy, clarity of thought, and compelling justifications in the reports. To help me meet his demanding standards, he introduced me to the concept of “Completed Staff Work.” If you haven’t heard this term before, “Completed Staff Work” is an actual, documented management principle. Wikipedia describes it as “…a principle of management which states that subordinates are responsible for submitting written recommendations to superiors in such a manner that the superior need do nothing further in the process than review the submitted document and indicate approval or disapproval.” After numerous, painful editing and revising “lessons” during the years I worked for George, I got pretty good at delivering precisely what he expected.
In the ensuing years, I’ve come to understand that “Completed Staff Work” does not only apply to the thoroughness of written reports; it can and should apply to everything we do in work and life. Simply put, it’s all about anticipating the next step, the next question, the next demand, or the next requirement in advance. Then we can proactively take action, provide answers, make suggestions, or do whatever is needed without being asked.