Yesterday I sent out an email to the whole Treehouse Team:
We’re growing fast which is insanely exciting. However, one of the bad things that happens as a company grows is ‘title creep’. Things like ‘Lead’, ‘VP’ and ‘Director’ turn into ‘SVP’, ‘Lead Director’, etc. It’s bad as it causes confusion and bad feelings.
At Treehouse we’re simply going to have three job titles:
- Team Leader
- Sub-Team Leader
- Team Member
Generally, people can manage 5 - 15 people, and then things start getting out of control. If a Team grows to over 15, then someone in the Team might rise to become Sub-Team Leader. The person that’s right for that role will usually rise to the position naturally because they enjoy leading and are good at it. Right now we don’t have any Sub-Team Leaders as the Teams aren’t big enough yet.
If you need to use a job title, please go with this pattern: ‘Job - Team Name’ or ‘Job - Sub-Team Name’. Examples would be ‘Team Leader - Sales Team’, ‘Designer - User Growth Team’ or ‘User Growth Team’.
I’ve created a drawing to help everyone understand how the Teams relate and who’s leading them.
Here is a public version of the Team Chart.
I had made the mistake of giving people management titles because they were the first person to join a Team. Now everyone starts off as just ‘Team Member’ and then if appropriate, they get promoted to Sub-Team Leader or Team Leader.
I got the idea to have three job titles from Tom Katis, the CEO of Triple Canopy, a security company with 7,000+ employees. I met him at Founders Forum and told him how our company was growing very fast and I was dealing with interesting new challenges because of the growth. One of challenges was structuring the Team for success and removing unnecessary friction.
He served in Afghanistan for the US Military and then started Triple Canopy. He took what he learned from the management structure of the armed forces and applied it to his company. I thought it made a lot of sense, so we’re now implementing it at Treehouse.
Please share your thoughts on how you deal with this at your company.
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