A staff unit is usually made up of specialists who have no management or instruction powers and who act in an advisory capacity or in representation. You are assigned to a manager and work on overarching topics. Often young high potentials (preferably with a doctorate) or experienced employees are offered such a position. But what does the staff position mean for your career?

Opportunities staff unit – close to the board

The staff unit can help to ensure that you receive a lot of information from an assigned manager and, above all, from the Make top management known can. This network in particular is a strong asset.

Also the Experience with overarching projects – across departmental boundaries – helps you to build strong references. For example, I restructured 300 employees in the staff unit. References like these are a great boost for your own career.

Furthermore, you can do very well from Managers learn by observing them . What does the manager do well and what does he not do so well? If you are later in the same situation, you can always remember: How did my manager react and should I react in the same way? This experience and your network in the company help you quickly become a manager. You can also benefit from the observations in the beginning and make fewer mistakes.

Risk department – the eternal advisor

At the same time, however, there are also risks associated with the staff unit. On the one hand, you could be seen as the manager’s secretary. You therefore have to get out of the role quickly and represent your own topics – i.e. not just work on the department head – but develop your own style and advance topics independently. Don’t become the secretary or the “man for everything”.

The second problem is “the eternal advisor”. You have no management experience on the staff and quickly become a consultant. One would like to have you everywhere but the responsibility should be borne by others, because you are only the advisor and you only know it theoretically. So try to take responsibility for the issues quickly on the staff and build up a standing for yourself. Take the staff position as a stepping stone to the team leader and switch as soon as you can.


You will notice that you are very close to top management thanks to the staff position and that you can build up a good network. This can help to get a management position quickly and to build up very good references. Above all, the overarching topics are worth gold in a career.

One problem in particular is the stamp of the eternal advisor. You have to try to step out of the shadow of the manager quickly and also take responsibility. You have to position yourself and learn a lot from the manager. A staff position is a curse and a blessing at the same time!

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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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