Lemon #58. Titles and promotions

Lemon #58. Titles and

While reading ‘The hard thing about hard things’ from Ben Horowitz, we learned about titles and promotions:

Often when I meet with startups, the employees have no job titles. This makes sense, because everybody is just working to build the company. Roles needn’t be clearly defined and, in fact, can’t be, because everyone does a little bit of everything. In an environment like this, there are no politics and nobody is jockeying for position or authority. It’s rather nice. 

But why do titles matter? 

  • Employees want them. While you may plan to work at your company forever, at least some of your employees need to plan for life after your company. When your head of sales interviews for her next job, she won’t want to say that despite the fact that she ran a global sales force with hundreds of employees, her title was «Dude».
  • Eventually, people need to know who is who. As companies grow, everybody won’t know everybody else. 

Beyond these core reasons, employees will use titles to calibrate their value and compensation against their colleagues. If an employee with a title of Junior Engineer believes that she is a far better programmer than her counterpart with the title Senior Architect, this will indicate to her that she may be underpaid or undervalued. Because titles will be used to calculate relative value, they must be managed carefully. 

Ben Horowitz @ The hard thing about hard things.

Jorge Moreno

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