Win With Completed Staff Work

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Maximizing your effectiveness in providing superiors with realistic and actionable solutions to problems is one of the quickest ways to enhance your value within an organization.  Understanding the principles of Completed Staff Work will help you to develop a comprehensive and systematic approach to researching, documenting, and presenting your recommendations to your superiors.

Completed Staff Work is a doctrine originally developed in the U.S. military that describes the standard of responsibility, thoroughness, detail, professionalism, and accountability required when preparing material for a superior.

Principles Of Completed Staff Work


Creating Completed Staff Work is as much about process as result.  When you are charged with finding solutions for your superior, your job is to work without further input or advice from your superior. Although certain matters may need clarification during this process, all details necessary to researching, documenting, analyzing, and providing a solution are your responsibility.


Your research and analysis should be exhaustive, considering all possible scenarios, alternatives, and repercussions in determining the best recommended course of action.  This recommendation should include thoughtful and detailed steps for implementation, including contingencies for any foreseeable problems.

According to a document prepared by the Office of the Provost Marshall General of the U.S. Army, Completed Staff Work is “the study of a problem and presentation of a solution by a staff officer in such a form that all that remains to be done on the part of the head of the staff division, or the commander, is to indicate his approval or disapproval of the completed action.” (Harari)


Once your research and analysis are complete, you should prepare your final recommendations to your superior in a short, concise format. Your presentation should present a clear, unmistakable conclusion that leaves no question unanswered.


Completed Staff Work requires the individual presenting the material to take a strong, clear position. Bureaucratic double-speak and tepid conclusions are unacceptable.  Your final recommendation should be one that you would be willing to stake your career upon.

Rising to the standard of Completed Staff Work requires the best that an employee has to offer. The default operating procedure in many bureaucracies is to limit personal risk, shift responsibility, and do the minimum required to “get by.”

Consistently presenting Completed Staff Work to your superiors will set you apart from peers and earn you notice as a serious and diligent professional.

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