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.
Regardless of the title - you should have a full job description and even a Personal Business Commitment (PC) Plan for each of your employees (SMART Goals for the coming year). Their PBC's should be based off your PBC's and shows specifically how their role and responsibilities will help you achieve your PBC's or SMART Business Goals for the coming year. Then during your quarterly performance reviews, you can easily measure their performance against their yearly goals - and give the appropriate tweaks and encouragement. Explicitly spelling out their roles and responsibilities is slightly different that giving their position a title. If you need help creating PBC's, lets chat.
When giving titles, I recommend select a title that best supports or helps achieve their business goals. Consider the end-user of their business cards. For example - if you have a employee that is a developer, but he also goes on the road with the Sales Staff to setup the demos and man the trade-show booths; I would give him the title of Subject Matter Expert or Technical Sales Engineer. Something - when given to the customer assures the customer that he is knowledgeable about the client's use of the product as well as encouraging the client to call them about making the sale.
What if your project manager also does the accounting and bookkeeping for your small business. This person also answers the phones and fills in as the receptionist. Although this person wears many hats, the title on their business card should be Project Manager, because affluent clients receiving that business card is more apt to carry on business dealings and conversations with the Project Manager over a book keeper or receptionist.
If you only have one sales person on your team and they also man the tech support line, their title on their business card should be Sales Manager - because an affluent client feels more important talking to the Sales Manager - than either sales person or a technical support person. They feel that the Sales Manager can actually get something done in the company.
Think about your business goals - and which title (from their many hats) is going to support bringing in the money.
Also - there is nothing wrong with creating multiple business cards with the different job titles. Then you give out the appropriate card at the right occasion. I don't recommend doing 1 business cards with all the titles like: Project Manager/Developer/Tester. You want to present clarity, confidence and expertise to your potential client. Showing them that you are a jack of all and master of none will defeat the purpose.
In my experience, it is best to ask your employees what department, market, and title they prefer. Employees are seeking recognition in the field and title they desire to be in. Allowing your first few employees to determine the titles they wish to have is allowing them to build upon their end career goal.
Chief-M.P.A-Officer - Marketing, PR, Advertising officer
CHIEF - HR.T.W-Officer - HR, Training, Wellness
and so on...you understand right?
A lot of us have the same issue I guess. Am I Managing Director, Director, CTO, Software Architect, Development Manager or something else? I decided to go with my core skill "Software Architect", but I wonder if I should also have a business card for Managing Director? So with the person you are bringing in - go with their core function on business cards etc. For the position description - wont they need one for each role? I think so.
Defined Job Descriptions are by big business standards well established - Now do each of your team members meet those particular critaria by academics and experience or are they in a supporting role with some knowledge and some experience...There is no "I" in "Team Work" regardless of how many job titles. But you can still play to their strengths and weaknesses if a Job title is that important.
Don't even try...Work the company the way you see fit...If you are a salesperson type hire people that like the inside and organization better, or vice versa...
MAKE THEM UP.
Large and small, I've seen titles say one thing, and their job function is another OVER AND OVER again. I just redid my business cards 2 minutes ago, and as the owner (and as owner I would never put Owner, CEO, etc on my card because then people think they can instantly negotiate your prices or gouge you) I called myself Chief Strategist.
But You can put their department as their title since you're small, and that will suffice. I just dished out for my Image Development shop the title of Executive Image. That's it.
But make it up depending on your industry - if you're in toys call someone a Chief Fun Officer, or if in customer service, dish out Senior Customer Pleaser. Have fun with it. Your customers and clients will eat it up.
Have you made an organizational chart for your small business which outlines the roles, skill set needed, and character qualities for each particular role? The fact that each of these roles has your name on it when you begin is irrelevant. What's important is that you try and figure out the strengths and weaknesses your organization has from an HR standpoint. This also allows you to think about who to hire given the needs in your business. Usually you want to start by hiring out your weaknesses.
Titles can be misleading. Make sure the areas they are responsible for are tied down in their job description. If you haven't read the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber , it's a great book for start-up entrepreneurs and talks about what you are going through at this moment.