The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten
222: Job Titles in Startups
Jul 11, 2017
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In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about the value of giving titles in startups. Hiten believes titles are NOT important and people should be more focused on the work rather than the title. Steli says there is a cost to giving titles and oftentimes, people’s actual work does not match their description. Listen in as Steli and Hiten discuss when the use of titles is beneficial for your company and also when it should completely be disregarded.
Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:05 – Today’s episode is about titles in startups
00:22 – Steli and Hiten see many people with titles in startups
01:12 – In a startup, there really are no titles in the beginning

01:50 – Everybody has to do almost everything
02:02 – There is general work that needs to be done

02:33 – Steli does not care about titles
02:51 – There are two different schools of thought for startups
02:54 – First school of thought: titles do not matter until the company gets bigger and it would be practical to use the titles

03:21 – One strategy is to give a title that is lower than their previous position

04:12 – Second school of thought: titles are the cheapest thing you can give out in a startup

05:14 – Steli knows a company who gave the title of founder to all the members of their team
06:03 – Steli disagrees that it does not cost anything

06:45 – Hiten says the whole title thing is crap
06:58 – Startups start by having people do multiple things

07:06 – Overtime, a hierarchy forms and there is a need for managers
07:22 – And then, organizational charts start to become a necessity

07:58 – Hiten likes to focus more on what needs to be done rather than the titles

08:04 – Hiten has a staff who started as an analytics engineer
08:11 – The guy’s position is lower as compared to what he was in his corporate job
08:17 – By the end, his work was equivalent to the VP of Product
08:26 – The guy did not care about the title, but just really wanted to get the work done
09:05 – The guy grew with the company

09:21 – Hiten thinks his company had more problems when they gave titles to people

09:29 – They hired a VP of sales but calling him a director would have been better for the company
09:55 – Hiten thinks it would be easier for people to come into the company if there were no titles
10:03 – Hiten wants his company culture to be one where no one is better than the other

10:15 – Do whatever you can to preserve your company culture
10:28 – When people feel equal, they end up doing better at work
11:01 – There is no need for companies to have rules for people when it comes to titles
11:36 – Steli thinks there is a  lot of hidden costs to giving titles to people like internal friction or confusion
12:23 – Ask yourself what kind of people you are going to attract if you give out titles to everyone
12:46 – It is also a credibility issue

12:58 – Steli knows someone who had a CTO title in his resume and was applying for a sales position in his company
13:20 – The guy explained he was working at a non-tech company where he was helping with the Gmail account, calendar and blog
13:46 – This is damaging to your reputation if the only thing you did was to set up a blog
14:14 – You are not a vice president of something if there are only 2 people under you
14:20 – Do not give yourself a title that does not match reality because it will hurt your credibility

15:03 – When people ask Steli what he does for, he usually tells them about the work he does
15:23 – Giving out a title is irrelevant compared to stating the actual work you are doing
15:42 – The one scenario where titles can be practical and helpful is in sales

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