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How "Titles" helped change my life and communication with my teams.

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  • How "Titles" helped change my life and communication with my teams.

    For a long time I didn't really understand what titles actually meant. As a lot of you know I never worked in corporate america so it's not something I'm accustomed to.

    I remember at one point people told me "titles matter" and yes for employees that work in organizations they really do. They wear them as badges of honor and they're fought for and earned. It's important to respect your people.

    But that's not what this post is about.

    This post is about how do I organize and who is responsible for what inside of an organization. Often times people are playing multiple roles and it's important to recognize that. When I first started hiring people I'd "expect" them to be able to handle 4-5 roles... but at that time I didn't realize they were 4-5 roles I just thought that's what you do. Now I've started to define levels of skills based on the level of the title.

    We break things down into

    Vice President
    Worker (anaylst, reps, client relationship, account management, etc, etc)

    Now the person that does the actual end work is a valuable person in the organization. There ability to output quality and quantity of work is of utmost importance but honestly they can only produce the work of one. The better they become the more work they can produce but it's always going to be limited. For example the top sales rep in a company is awesome they produce good revenue for the company.. but what if they leave?

    Where even more value starts to happen is as your progress up the levels in Titles. My CTO, Sergey, calls these people force multipiers. That essentially means they make the overall team below them much better more efficient and effective.

    He explains it like this...

    If your staff is performing at 50% capacity and you have 50 of them. Then I come in and make them overall 25% better you essentially create another 1/3 units of production out of the same cost. No one programmer can produce that no matter how good they are. So he's a force multiplier on the whole team and effectively makes them produce at a much great level. So you could reduce cost by 1/3 overall or increase production by 1/3 either way it's a HUGE win on a large team.

    So as you think about giving people these titles what should you expect of them?

    Each of these titles assumes you know how to do the one below. There's a chance that the Manager level employee and above don't know now to do the day to day tasks of the workers. But if they do this always helps. You can be a great coach without being the best player. But you at least to know the mechanics of the game and how to get a great result for the outcome needed.

    This is the people that are 100% focused on getting the tasks, sales, engineering and work that needs to get done, done.

    They live in a very reactive world. Tell me what to do, where's my list and I'll get it done.

    Manager is going to someone that takes the systems that have been created by the company and make the staff execute them amazingly. The main goal with Managers is to be able to answer the hard problems the workers have in a reactive fashion. They're also strong in hiring, training and coaching a team. As well as holding them accountable for hitting an outcome. They're typically gauged by KPI's (key performance indicators) that measure how efficient the workers are. The key with managers is they're typically not the people doing the work. And they're also not the people creating the system. They're just executing those systems effectively and efficiently. Which includes hiring, training, firing, motivating, coaching, etc. A great manager will make the team much better then the sum of it's parts.

    The managers vision is very much reactive in handling issues, and some proactive in hiring, training and coaching.

    This it the role that is going to be responsible for creating the system that the manager and the operator are going to operate under. They'll take the directives handed down by company leadership for the goals of the overall company and their division. From that they'll decide what needs to be doneThey're going to come up with the KPI's, build the systems, write the SOP's (standard operating procedures), look into technology to make the team more efficient, and anything else that the manager will need to make that team successful towards that goal. The director level will be managing the Managers. Making their they understand how to use their systems they've created as effectively and efficiently as possible. They're constantly looking for new and better way to make the systems more effective.

    Director is mostly thinking about the mechanics of the machine and is much more proactive. They're spending most of their time thinking what needs to be created to grow.

    Vice President:
    At the VP role you know how to manage people effectively, you can build the systems but your main focus is direction an planning of the division. That's identifying opportunities, developing budgets, developing forecasts. The VP very much lives in the 1-4 quarters out. Where's the market is at and where's it going. Based on those identification he decides what needs to be budgeted and built to get us there.

    This person is probably not dealing with the worker or manager level people at all. But the hardest thing for this level person is they're now disconnected from the market mostly. So the challenge is to create efficient systems to get the information back up from the workers that are talking to the boots on the ground. This one I haven't quite figured out yet and would love to hear suggestions on how you get market shifting data back up from the worker level to the VP level to make powerful decisions.

    Defining things like this has made a HUGE difference in my life, communication and understanding of responsibilities. It also lets me feel better when I saddle someone with the role of all the titles at once to know that's not realistic for them to be great at all those things. I've made the mistake of hiring a Manager into a role of a Director and then expecting them to do Director level things but they were a Manager. This creates a great deal of frustration on my side because I think that the person is a Director and what they should deliver is based on that. When they can't they feel bad about themselves, like they're not good enough. So honestly it's my/our fault for hiring someone into the wrong role. Now as I hire people and give them titles I ask a lot of specific questions about their background and experience doing the things mentioned in each title level. Use cases, backgrounds, etc.

    I sure hope this helps some of you. I know it has helped me in my life and mind.
    Jason Akatiff, CEO - A4D Performance | Follow Me on Twitter | Read my Blog
    >> A4D - CPA Network, 8 years in business, never missed a payment. Sign Up Here! | NEW Skype: live:jasona_33 <<<

  • #2
    lol how many if not most of us have been in the ceo, vp, director, manager and worker role AT THE SAME TIME.. talk about work overload and lack of focus.
    Id would recommend for you to pickup some books off amazon on management accounting.. studied this stuff in uni but its been a while.. good reports and data are necessary for decision making..
    Click image for larger version

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    perhaps you can use your gamification skillset to motivate workers to fill in their reports better?
    Last edited by dmitri; 03-30-2016, 08:48 AM.