Here's Why Designations Don't Work in a Start-up

According to your job profile and designation you might be limited but in your own venture, when the work sets in, you are needed to go beyond boundaries
Here's Why Designations Don't Work in a Start-up
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Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India
3 min read

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When you go for that change in jobs you had been waiting for, it’s not just the salary that you pay attention to, but also the designation offered to you. Designations give an importance to your position immediately, but one often wonders what’s in a name anyway?

While designations do matter in a corporate set-up, when it comes to start-ups everyone has to dive into the same amount of work and name tags don’t hold much relevance. What does hold relevance is the ownership you take up for your work.

Entrepreneur India spoke to start-up founders as they shared their thoughts on why designations don’t hold importance in a start-up.

Your Skill and Not Designation is What Counts

When you are working in a start-up, there are multiple things that need to be done. So according to your job profile and designation you might be limited, when the work sets in, you are needed to go beyond boundaries.

Abhishek Agarwal, Co-Founder, Globepanda believes designations don’t really hold a lot of importance in a startup as all the hired employees are assigned tasks according to their skill at first but then as the situation demands they find a way to deliver. “Since the startup is constantly changing and moving it becomes clears who will sink and who will swim when presented with new challenges that test their mettle and with every success employees take over the role which is casted when the business takes off,” said Agarwal.

When it comes to bargaining for an open position in a start-up, Bruce Schwack, Co-Founder, remembers an episode the from American TV show called Cheers. When the bartenders assistant decided he needed a raise, and worked up the courage to ask the tough Boss Rebecca for it. When he walked into her office, she stopped him in his tracks and said "Hey, I know why you're here. You're here to ask for a title raise and I just can't give out any more titles this year."

The assistant then said, "That's not fair as I deserve a title." And spent the next 10 minute convincing Rebecca why he deserved one. He left the office with a happy face and have the designation as Assistant Bar Manager and had completely forgotten about the raise!

“This always stood out in my mind as a good example of why titles and designations are often used as bargaining chips but don't necessarily determine productivity or leadership capabilities,” said Schwack.  

Why a Flat Hierarchy Works

According to Schwack, the "flat" hierarchy usually leads to a more cooperative team approach, and especially favours situations where an older, more seasoned person is asked to serve "under" a more junior "which kid", for example. “Even when there are no titles, leaders emerge and tend to lead, without having to be recognized by a sign on their door as the leader,” he said.

A flat hierarchy helps establish a better work environment in a startup because there is not as much supervision as there is in an organization with a big hierarchy believes Agarwal. “Employees are giving liberty and are encouraged to take initiative which increases their involvement in the decision making  process and helps bring more business idea to the surface,” he said.

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