Your Management Team and Their Titles

titlesWhat Key Reports Do You Need to Implement Your Vision?

From the following list, you should be able to identify three to five positions you’ll need to create right away or sometime in the first year. These will ideally become your executive management team:

  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Innovation Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Investment Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
  • Chief Administration Officer (CAO, most often in healthcare)
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
  • Chief Learning Officer (CLO)
  • Chief Legal Officer (CLO)
  • Chief Science Officer (CSO)
  • Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO)
  • President (of divisions or company)
  • Executive Vice President (EVP)
  • Vice Presidents (of divisions or company)
  • Human Resources Director
  • Marketing Director
  • Sales Director
  • Research & Development Director
  • Engineering Director
  • Project Manager
  • Recruiting Director
  • Controller

In identifying key positions, focus on the key areas of your company. Look back at the skills list. Which three focus areas are key to achieving your company’s vision? For example, a typical manufacturing company might have someone in charge of Operations or Production; someone in charge of HR and Administration; someone in charge of Sales; someone in charge of Finance; and possibly someone in charge of Engineering. A creative services company might have someone in charge of Creative Development or Marketing; someone in charge of Administration or Operations; and possibly people in charge of different product categories.

Regardless of the title, make sure the positions as you are defining them are aligned with your company’s needs and goals. Of course, when a company is small, everyone will wear multiple hats to accomplish overall goals, while continuing to lead in their respective area of expertise. Just make sure all essential leadership bases are covered and you don’t have a gap in coverage. Think of this like an insurance adjuster would: what are the risks and how should they be mitigated? If you are going through a reset, do a S.W.O.T. analysis of the organizational chart. What changes do you need to make? Don’t be afraid to cut or move people around based on the company’s needs and the skills of the individuals. Allowing yourself to do this could mean the difference between your company’s success and failure. And you might find that, even with some initial stress, everyone is happier in the long run when their roles are aligned with the company’s goals. (See the end of this chapter for more information about how to do a S.W.O.T. analysis and letting employees go.)

Titles and Entitlement

Be very careful with titles. Once given, it’s almost impossible to take a title away without significant negative consequences. Not to mention the precedent it sets for the organization. When creating positions always go back to the key questions: What is your company’s vision? What are your company’s values? Create positions wisely and fill them intentionally. When you do these two things, you’ll have to fill them less frequently.

If you only have twenty-five people in your company, you probably don’t need C-level executives yet. If you want to give some of your people those titles because they’ve done a good job and you want to make them feel important, stop and think through some of the potential negative consequences first. There’s lots of information out there about “comparable” positions, and I promise you people will interpret the information they find to their own benefit. One of my clients gave the title “bookkeeper” to an entry-level administrative position. After three months, the employee wanted a huge raise because a quick internet search showed she was being underpaid for someone with that title. Additionally, C-level executives in a fifty-person company are going to compare themselves to C-level executives of a five-hundred-person company and expect comparable pay, even though the responsibilities are almost always different.

Have you ever tried to take a title away from someone? Reneging on a title is just like hanging a sign on that person that says, “I didn’t make it.” It’s a rare occurrence when someone could actually go back to doing a previous position after getting a promotion or title change. Keep your positions and titles aligned with the Intentional Purpose of the company. If an actual promotion isn’t really warranted, resist the urge to give a new title as a reward. Find another way to reward a good employee.

Excerpted from my book, “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle: The Ten Pieces Every Business Needs to Succeed.” Available here on Amazon.