How can you choose the most appropriate job title when wearing many 'hats' in your company?
As a very new small business, anyone I bring on to my team is going to be responsible for more than one area of expertise. How can I name or define their positions when they are going to be doing much more than one thing?
You need to look at their strengths and weaknesses and also at what they want, like and can do. Titles don't mean a lot in a start-up, other than the owner. If you need a title, make sure you use something that is easily understood by your market, not some cutesy title that someone made up.
And remember in a small business you need workers, not managers or executives. Bringing in friend who used to work for IBM might not be the right move.
I wouldn't worry too much about titles. What's more important is defining their responsibilities and making sure they have the necessary skills and support to accomplish what they do. By defining the roles by responsibilities you can give them a realistic perspective of what you'll need from them.
Job titles are almost always a sensitive and emotional issue; they can motivate, inspire, enhance an individual’s drive or conversely impede their ability to succeed.
Keep titles unambiguous and based solely on an individual’s primary responsibility. If they are required to manage others call them a manager of whatever function they occupy, if they have no managerial role and no direct reports simply name their position after their responsibility - dispatch, marketing, accounting, operations etc. Don’t invent multi-disciplined titles, fall for the hideous process of cute nonsense descriptors or invent CEO’s, founders or departmental VP’s when you only employ 5 people.
Consider what people have to answer when asked by others what they do at your company, they should sound empowered but no more important than the role they occupy, you can’t have the office junior charged with collecting media clippings thinking that they are your VP of public and media relations.
Finally some people will inevitably carry a business card, there title must be influential enough to earn a prospect’s respect so junior sales assistant, is not going to cut it when simply business development will open doors.
You are small enough - don't!
Hire these people and tell them that after 3 months (or whatever) of working, they get to name their position themselves.
If you are hiring a person for a specific function that you expect them to do well (accounting), which might include other diverse responsibilities in your growth stage (HR), then you can give them the appropriate title and explain the need for their attention to these other duties.
The job "title" is not your biggest issue, giving a person a range of diverse responsibilities give you an even greater responsibility to understand their situation and contribution as you need to evaluate their performance.
One maor point that's being overlooked - don't overdo it - if you make people under you jealous because you have so many "job titles" as opposed to one, all-encompassing job title, you will stir a hornet's nest of contempt!
It sounds as though what you may be looking for is a 'Generalist' that will be able to effectively wear many hats. There is, or should NOT be, any 'hierarchy' issues in a small start-up. So you may be looking for an 'Administrative Generalist' or 'Office Management Generalist' - titles are just that, not WHO people are.
IF you present an excellent opportunity for someone to join your team, and that person is 'on the jazz', and brings much to the table in various areas, bingo! Remember too that going with a fancy 'high-level' title = high salary expectations!
Lastly, when you do interview people your gut says would be a great fit, references support excellence, then ASK them what they would be comfortable with for their title, given the scope of their various duties and responsibilities - the PRIMARY duty of course is their MAIN title...Would love to hear what you end up coming up with in a follow-up Zoe.
This one's easy...what is the target position you would like to acquire at the next level in your career?
Whatever it may be - if you have freedom to do so - the most pragmatic move here would be to choose a position that aligns as closely to the target job title as possible.
Therefore, if you have a job title-less team of linchpins, simply ask them where they want to be in 5-10 years from a career leadership perspective, and...voila! :)
Titles made simple. Employees made loyal.
I am a start-up, too and so it helps that we use titles that not only best describes what we do but also gives a hint of being an expert/very knowledgeable in that particular area. So titles like, Print Production Manager, Visual Merchandising Expert...etc. I like one suggestion here about asking the people working with you what would they like to be in 5-10 years that way the title doubles as a goal as well.
I've been involved in three startups recently where we all wear multiple hats. To summarise the most useful conversations about titles we've had:
Choose a title ...1. that adds something to your CV
2. that your peers and potential future employers will recognise (i.e. NOT 'Chief lifestyle ninja')
3. that's short enough to fit in an email signature
4. that positions you within your startup business for the main area of responsibility
In many early stage companies, titles are omitted completely, encouraging teaming rather than status. In others, function (e.g. engineering, business development) rather than title was found to be more appreciated, particularly for those who interface primarily with outsiders (vendors, customers). Titles imply an organizational structure that will change often as an enterprise grows, making any title obsolete. Value is best understood through compensation and acknowledged contribution to the company's objectives.