Wednesday, January 26, 2022
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Empty Titles in Lieu of Pay

by Jim Pinto


Let's discuss the subject of hierarchical labels which are often substituted for monetary rewards.

There are businesses that have a great proliferation of confusing titles: Banks are the most liberal with titles Senior VP, Executive VP, Vice President, Asst. VP, Junior VP, etc. Of course, down the ladder, substitute the word Manager, instead of VP.

In most companies, one climbs up the hierarchical ladder via a succession of titles: Supervisor, Manager, Director, Vice President, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and President.

In Europe, the title Director is reserved for members of the board of directors; in the U.S., this is simply a title above Manager but not quite a Veep. Of course, one could always add the prefix "Assistant" to any of the above titles, as a differentiator for those who are conscious of such things.

Some companies have VP of Human Resources which clearly shows that people are more important, since the title is not just a plain old "Manager" of Human Resources.

The same applies to Quality and IT - the honorific Vice President is added on to show that these people have access to decision-making power at the highest levels. Some even name VP of Strategic Planning, or VP of Innovation, as a means to hire a senior person who was VP somewhere else and would not consider joining without that extra honorific tagged on.

In Sales & Marketing there is a confusing hierarchy. VP Marketing may perhaps be considered a tad higher than VP Sales. Of course, some sticklers for the finer points insist a "Senior" be added, to demonstrate a clear hierarchical advantage. But, does Senior mean that the person gets paid more? Or is entitled to a bigger bonus? At these higher levels, they tend to be very secretive about who gets paid what. But titles give no indication at all of pay-scales.

In the Vice Presidential hierarchy, would the VP of Finance be equal to, higher than, or lower than the VP of Marketing or Manufacturing? Of course, the Senior could be added on, to clarify the pecking order.

Finally, at the top of the pyramid, one gets the titles Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) tagged on, to be more explicit regarding the executive chain-of-command. For example, the President may be just the COO, with the title CEO reserved for the Chairman of the Board, the ultimate supreme commander.

As a consultant, futurist, speaker, and author, when I am asked for my title, I usually respond with "Supreme Commander". I mean, why should I settle for anything else?


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