Do titles mean much?

Pretty simple question: Does having a title at an organization mean much?  To me, it means nothing.

Recently my dad (30+ years as a sales leader in the banking industry which includes running the entire sales organization at some major banks here in Philadelphia), came on to help at Shugo.  See, I have ZERO sales experience and I needed someone to help guide me down the slippery path of leading sales for our organization.  What better person than the man who’s done it successfully for over 30 years and is now retired (if you call retirement watching my 3 nieces/nephews a few days a week retirement).

So he comes from big, corporate background and me, not so much.  I prefer a small, agile and entrepreneurial environment.  In our conversations, it’s obvious we think differently in a “few” areas — which I personally view as a good thing.  It helps me think outside of the box and view the world from a different perspective.  He’s already brought a number of valuable thoughts to the table, even though I may not always agree with them (don’t tell him I said he’s valuable though).

So sharing all that doesn’t really go with the question I posed “Do titles mean much?”, but it has a profound impact on why I asked.  I personally think titles mean nothing.  They are nothing more than corporate mumbo jumbo and tell nothing about the person/employee – my dad may beg to differ.  If I’m calling into an organization for help, what does it matter if I talk to the President, CTO, Senior Vice President (whatever that means) or the Customer Service Representative?  I’m reaching out to get help and frankly don’t care who helps me as long as my needs are met.  He views it as “a response from the President is REALLY important”.  But why is it more important than a response from the newly hired customer service representative or developer?

Some people may find it funny or awkward that they’ll call or email into our team for help and I respond.  See, at Shugo we work collectively to answer every support request and answer within an hour timeframe – if not immediately.  That means if I’m the best suited to help, I’ll respond immediately (in actuality, I try to respond before anyone on our team does cause I’m fanatical about an immediate response — it may be the reason why I only get 4.5 hours a sleep on average night).

So that’s really the basis of where my question comes from: Do titles really matter?  If so, when and why?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One thought on “Do titles mean much?

  1. Well Rick, I am going to agree with your dad here. There are two different sides to a title. One on the sales side and the other on operations.

    Sales: Who are you going to return the call from…. My name is Greg and I am the Regional Sales Manager with Shugo or My name is Greg and I am the Vice President of Statigic Business Relationships (or something of that nature) Titles can also help you get through gatekeepers when calling into companies where the decision makers are hard to get to.

    Operations: While I agree with you that when I call a company for support I do not care if it is the CEO or the CSR that fixes my issue, if something goes wrong or the solution is not correct I am going to handle myself differently if I am talking to a CEO or Vice President than I would if it were a CSR. As a Vice President I take calls all the time where one of my CSR’s has given an answer that the customer did not agree with and has gotten irate with the CSR. When they talk with me (Vice President) they are calm and easy to talk to. I believe this is for a couple reasons:

    1. Clients and people in general have respect for a title. A title is something earned through experience and the trust a company puts into a person.
    2. The client has a since of being heard by someone that is higher up on the food chain within an organization and because the person with the title often has more of a vested interest in their needs.

    I often answer support calls for my company and when it gets to technical for me I often amuse the client by telling this that their problem went a little outside of my scope. I then let them know my name and title and assure them that someone will be calling them back. The client ALWAYS seems happy about talking with a Vice President and I think they feel like they are 100% sure their issue will get addressed in a timely fashion.

    I chalk this question up to the Sales vs. Operations war that will never be won but always fought.

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