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Agile and Disruptive Job titles

Agile and Disruptive Job titles

Posted: 24th June 2020

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      I am a People Director for a start up company that has grown to employ over 100 people in the last three years. We have an informal, agile, flexible culture with a flat(ish) structure. We have a few managers (we call them coaches) and heads of department. The naming conventions of job titles has not been an issue before. We tend to have titles that reflect the function of a persons role eg marketing specialist, Business Analyst etc. There is also little consistency across teams. As we have grown envitably teams have grown and now we are being asked by employees (who have been promoted to look after people and teams) to introduce what I think are more corporate job titles such as “Head of”. We have decided to have a review of how we do this. Does anyone have any advice on this whole area or some pointers for me please.


        Hi Richard, Hopefully, some other members will share their expertise, but in the meantime, I will share the advice we’ve given our SME clients with the same challenge.

        I can tell you’re not keen to get into mirroring corporate structures and I agree  – you will begin to lose the start-up vibe!

        I would start by trying to find out why the title is so important to them?  Is it because they want to feel valued for their management role and status matters to them? (I’m assuming they are already compensated for it?). For comms reasons so that everyone knows they lead the team? Or is it for enhancing their CV? etc..  In other words there may be other ways to meet their needs.  If you still need to change the title many of our SME’s have adopted “team leader’ roles as that feels more in keeping with a flat, informal structure?

        When you know what’s really going on for them you could develop some simple org design principles e.g.

        1. Team leaders/Coaches ideally to have no more than 10 direct reports
        2. Maximum of 4 layers from top to bottom
        3. Generic and simple job titles and job specs unless very specialist role so that we can retain our informal and agile culture and move people around easily (but let our people describe their roles as they wish on their CV/LinkedIn)

        I hope that helps!




        • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by DanCB.

          Thank you for your response Karen. Yes that really useful and has got me thinking about appraoching this differently – much appreciated .


            It’s a pleasure Richard!

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