4 considerations when creating a job title structure

4 considerations when creating a job title structure

In today’s Reader Question, I will explore the topic of how to create a job title family for your organisation. One of my friends recently had to open a whole new area for the company she works at. For the sake of the post, let’s say her company operates in retail and construction, and it is now opening a real estate business unit.

This new area currently has few employees, for example a General Manager, 2 sales people and an assistant. There are ambitious growth plans with at least 50 employees in various capacities due to join the organisation in the coming months. And so you now need a dedicated salary structure (related to the real estate industry) and relevant job titles.

So which points do you need to take into account when you build this new job title grid ? Here are 4 tips I shared with her

1 – You need to create titles that make sense in your industry

It is important to have titles that reflect the industry you’re in. This will help attract the right candidates for the job, especially for the experienced ones – these will then easily recognise the kind of opportunities you are offering, and will express interest more easily than if you have out-of-industry titles. Non-relevant titles will only expose that you are new to the industry and reduce the credibility of your organisation.

2 – Offer titles that provide a sense of consistency to the employees

In the specific case we are considering, the organisation is opening a new business unit. It is not operating an independent company for this real estate business. This has multiple implications. For example your current rules probably mean that you must have to use the same grading structure as in the rest of the company – or at the minimum, have a strong equivalency model.

Another implication is that at some point in time, whether from the creation of the new unit, or later on, some internal mobility will take place : employees will transfer in the real estate unit, or out of it to the retail or construction sides of the business. It is therefore important for you to maintain some level of consistency so that your internal candidates can easily picture their move across the organisation.

How do you maintain this internal sense of consistency while developing titles that reflect the new industry you are entering ?

Simple : for support functions and positions, you use the same titles in the new unit as you do in the rest of the company. For example, a dedicated assistant to the top executive may be called an Executive Assistant in your company. Don’t name this position as Personal Assistant or Senior Coordinator in your new business unit – keep the same job title for this role. If other business units have HR Business Partners, don’t call the role in your new Unit an HR Manager. And so on….

The more discrepancies, the more confusion you will create in your company – and the more resistance or lack of interest you will find when it comes to internal mobility.

3 – You have to provide progression and logic in the title structure

The job title structure has to demonstrate a logical progression that reflects the increase in responsibilities as employees grow in skills and experience in the organisation.

This one is straightforward : a Junior or Assistant XX comes before an XX and then a Senior XX. You don’t put a Manager title in a grade higher than a Director title.

4 – Prepare your title grid for the future

You are creating a job title structure that should not only reflect your needs today, but those of the future.

Your current employee base may only be represented in 3 or 4 grades, but your whole structure in the future, with its 50 employees, will have people across most of not all levels of the organisation.

So you need to create a full job title ladder, covering all grades. Spare yourself the lost time and panic of the last minute when you start opening these new positions in a few weeks or months, and you did not think of proper titles for them.

Designing your full job title structure will also greatly help you in identifying potential gaps in the title progression, or the compression (for example if you have the same title across multiple grades while this is not normalpractice in your company). Better to spot these early and work through them until your job title ladder is coherent before anyone is impacted, than having to change employees’ titles at a later stage because you did not create your full structure in the first place.

I hope you find these suggestions useful when you next create a job title structure. Do you have others to share ? If so please let us know in the comments section !


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  1. very well explained.. Sandrine.. Thank you..

  2. Amit Barve says

    simple and practical !


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