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Tips for Heads of Staff

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As far as introductions go, I'm shit at them. At least, without insulting people. So, let's just get this show on the road. The following are tips based on observation and my general knowledge of leadership. They are in no way priority order -- all of them should be given equal consideration. Hopefully this will help.


In accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure, both old and new, all Heads of Staff are equal, regardless of whether or not a Captain is present. Standard operation does not warrant the promotion of an Acting Captain, as such, all Heads of Staff are equal and stay in their lane as needed.

These are my personal views, opinions and experiences. Take them as you will.

0. Everyone is Human.

  • Mistakes will happen. Solve them together and move out, together.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


1. You Live by Communicating

  • Very simple, communicate. With your department, with your fellow commanders, with troublemakers. Communication is a basis for leadership, it enables you to command, to review, to assess, etcetera.
  • Communication is a two way process. Listen, and be heard. Don't just do one without the other. Teach your subordinates to do the same. Even if someone fucks up, at the very least listen to the why, so you may curb behaviour and ensure that the fuck-up isn't repeated.
  • Keep the comms clear. Any active head has a minimum of 3 radio channels to monitor: command net, department net, public net. Add to this local comms (verbal) and secondary channels (for HoP, Captain). This is a lot of comms traffic. Don't make the lives of other heads harder by picking up and carrying out verbal gunfights over the channels in question, it just serves to piss them off.
  • Breed an environment of internal communication within your department: ask for situation reports, make sure major actions are communicated, make sure that communication is rewarded, discourage (and solve) verbal gunfights over net/within the department. You want to minimize miss-communication as much as possible.


2. Know Your Lane, Stick to It

  • For a Head of Staff, their lane is defined as their department, the personnel involved, and actions concerning. As a Head of Staff, you should be primarily focused on your lane and its problems.
  • Don't hop lanes (unnecessarily). If the situation is not critical, try not to provide even the tiniest comment regarding conduct, procedure, duties, etcetera to the personnel under the command of another Head of Staff. Doing so will serve to confuse personnel, undermine the leadership of the Head of Staff that is suppose to be responsible for them, and make him look impotent. Instead, contact the other Head of Staff, politely inform him of the issue, and let him sort it out.
  • The latter note includes the tiniest of things, truly. Police your staff, and let others police theirs.
  • If you need to stick your nose into someone else's business, make sure it's unavoidable, and you have damn solid ground to stand on. Otherwise the other Heads of Staff reserve the full right to have your arse (in my book).
  • No, the HoP does not have the liberty to take Acting Captain as they please. No, the HoP should not stick around in security unless it's a matter of paperwork or an emergency. No, the HoP is not a replacement HoS; the Internal Security department can manage itself, stay the hell out of it!


3. Solve Problems, Enable

  • Your main tool for solving problems: communication.
  • Your main responsibility in-front of your personnel should be to enable them to work. RnD needs resources? Sort it out with the HoP and QM. Surgeon needs new tools? Talk to Cargo or RnD! See solutions, and not just problems to side-line. You are their extension and access card, help them. And they'll help you.
  • Identify issues. Learn from previous mistakes and issues, and use the knowledge gained to identify issues before they repeat themselves. If the issue is not in your lane, or goes beyond it, contact the proper authorities with your concerns. They should listen to you, at the very least, as an equal.
  • Be constructive. Once an issue has been identified, and you are in a position to help, do so. Pointing out and yelling is one thing. Going beyond that, assisting and being constructive about the matter is another. Know how to do identify, and more importantly, how to solve an issue. Even if it's a new issue, try.


4. Punish, Private; Praise, Public

  • A very simple rule to live and operate by. If a member of your department needs to be punished, do it between closed doors and be constructive about it: give them a chance to fix themselves, and give them solutions to the problems that caused the breach in acceptable behaviour.
  • If someone does something commendable, or even just maintains commendable behaviour, make others aware of it (a pat on the back is fine, be careful with raising someone onto a pedestal, though).
  • Only, only, only punish and praise your own staff. Do not touch the staff of other Head of Staff. Refer to point 2.


5. My Character is n-phobic

  • No, he's not. Get out.
  • Whether bigotry, xenophobia, arachnophobia, or whatever, it cannot and should not lead to irrational or incompetent decisions. Basically: if it forces your character to commit an action that fucks the status quo in the ass so hard that it's unable to stand up afterwards, then that character should probably not be in a commanding position.
  • And ICly speaking, issues like that come out. And even if they were able to keep it under wraps during evaluation, or somehow skimped out on a few parts of the evaluation process, erronious decisions made as a result of the aforementioned factors will build bulk, and eventually, CCIA will deal with him as they see fit.


6. Regarding Respect

  • Most importantly of all, note this: respect is a two way street.
  • You cannot demand nor expect respect outright. In no way, shape or form is this wise, or recommended. Respect is earned. Earned through actions, conduct, and a myriad of other factors. It will take time, it can be a difficult task, but it will pay dividends if accomplished properly.
  • Assuming you are respected, and attempting to command respect will backfire terribly, always. I cannot stress this point enough. Yes, you've earned your whitelist. Yes, you can now play a role that is limited. However, you have yet to earn your position, in the eyes of your subordinates, as a leader. Be humble, have humility, and work with your subordinates and peers. Then, among other things, they will start to respect you.

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One thing people fail to realize is that punishment and conflict resolution should be on a need to know basis. Involve only those who have a need to know, not the entire department or even the station via general comms. Public discipline only leads to resentment and anger from your subordinates resulting from their humiliation and only serves to weaken team cohesion and promotes a hostile work environment. You're supposed to take care of your subordinates, not make an example out of them unless the situation demands it.

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Another note about subordinates is that you should be invested in their development. Taking the time and effort to teach new staff will give you a core group that is loyal, works as a team and has similar MO.

This is preferable to looking at every new face as an incompetent baby who needs a bottle held up. Yes, you will have those too, but this should never be the start-state.

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Just another note that can not be brought up enough.

Paperwork. Do it. If someone makes a request for items not available to them normally (IAA wants SecHud, Additional Coms, Bartender wants chemicals from Chemistry, Somebody wants anything from the protolathe) find a form, make them fill it out, and have it stamped by who ever it is relevant to. Various jobs have lots of paperwork, make sure its kept up on, from Genetics testing, Cyborg Contracts, Access and Transfers. If a department doesn't have a head suitable, get the Captain/Acting Captain to stamp it and have the proper head stamp it soon as they become available as well.

On the flip side, if someone makes a request for you to sign paperwork do it, you can disapprove it if you want, but your job requires you to acknowledge and handle any requests that cross you, if an assistant wants a job transfer or somebody wants to be Borged, it's the responsibility of the head to approve or deny it, simply refusing it over the radio and telling them to get lost is NOT acceptable. Any reasonable request that has been denied should also have reason for that denial (Subject can not be Borged because there is a lack of materials to create cyborg, Access can not be granted because individual has proven untrustworthy, equipment can not be granted because it would not benefit requester in their job and present a danger to crew if misused, ect...)

Paperwork is a pain in the ass, but if you can't be bothered to do you job, expect to get demoted when the IAA has a list of complaints about you refusing to stamp and sign things and CentCom sends a fax back about you failing to keep proper records and facilitating the needs of the crew to be productive.

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There's one thing that me, as a HoS have learned to do.

Don't be an insufferable asshat.

What I mean by that is, don't antagonize EVERYONE who doesn't agree with you. I am a jerk as HoS, but a constructive jerk. I try to break you down, and then build you back up as a soldier. There are some heads that I've noticed that literally antagonize every single person that disagrees with them in the slightest, and it just causes conflict and metahate.

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  • 2 weeks later...
There's one thing that me, as a HoS have learned to.



Be courteous to everyone, yes, even the janitor. Encourage your subordinates to do this as well. This is a big one. I don't care if you're a xenophobic unathi that believe women are only good for breeding, DON'T LET IT SHOW THROUGH IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION WORK. This applies especially when you're intruding in another department on your department's business. Thank the receptionist for letting you in. Don't start demanding things of the hosting department, and most certainly, don't try and tell them how to do their job. If you simply must call someone out on something, take it to that person's head of staff, or internal affairs. Solid connections are your most important effort as security and engineering, and you're not going to get those connections through demanding them, you EARN them.These connections are also applicable to medical, and engineering, although I find it primarily useful in high command/security. It never hurts to always strive to be polite.

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  • 1 year later...
Could we also mention that one head of staff has literally no authority ordering people of another department to do literally anything. Too many times playing security a Chief engineer has tried to order me to their office to yell at me for arresting their engineers then kicks off when I refuse to come. Its annoying.

I would note that every Head of Staff has valid authority to order security to do things so long as it's actually something reasonable security could do, as mentioned in the Expectations of Security.


All heads of department outrank security officers, cadets, wardens, and detectives. And are permitted to give you orders especially within their own department. So long as they are legal and not overruled by the HoS, Acting Captain or Captain. Failure may lead to charges of failure to follow orders, or sedition.
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I would note that every Head of Staff has valid authority to order security to do things so long as it's actually something reasonable security could do, as mentioned in the Expectations of Security.


The problem was we were currently dealing with the captain accusing the HoS of being a traitor, and the HoS accusing the captain of being a traitor, so I was hugely preoccupied and really didn't have time to go to the CE to be yelled at.

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The problem was we were currently dealing with the captain accusing the HoS of being a traitor, and the HoS accusing the captain of being a traitor, so I was hugely preoccupied and really didn't have time to go to the CE to be yelled at.

Of course, but in the matter of heads of staff actually having authority to order officers, they do.

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  • 2 months later...

Can I interject with something I've noticed captains doing?

Butting their heads in departmental situations.

The captain should not be micromanaging any department as long as there's a head of that department. And if they have an issue with an order a head is giving one of their subordinates, please for the love of god do not voice your concern over the department comms. - Instead utilize the command channel to have a discussion, so as to not create confusion. When heads are dealing with a group of staff they want to ensure things stay level headed on comms, so as to not create a sense of a lack of leadership.

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  • 6 months later...

Bumping this for visibility. I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the points laid out in the OP when playing as a head of staff, they function as a basis for how most heads of staff would be trained and it's a great mindset to adapt to. If your subordinates are not listening to you, 80% of the time it is 100% a problem with the leader not being effective enough.

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Yes. 100%. It is so irritating to play security, or even witness security being micromanaged by a captain. Even when there isn't a HoS. "You, take him to processing." "You, interrogate him." The team can manage itself! To add, listen to your inferiors. If the HoS says to do something, even if you, the captain, don't agree with it, it is annoying to be overidden. Just let it happen, and speak to him later, unless it is obviously terribly stupid. Finally, listen to people when they ask you something. Sometimes I am asking the captain for help, because security is treating me stupidly, an dthey just brush you off.

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