Titles and roles define an organization.
Titles reflect the responsibilities, and there is a fairly standard hierarchy:
- Vice President
- Team Leader/Senior Team Member
- Team Member
These titles confer implicit authority, and if enforced by upper management, explicit authority.
It is extremely important to match the title with the skills of the holder, in order to balance the team. For example, if there is a junior manager, and a senior technical person, all parties should understand when the manager’s decision is final, and when the senior person is responsible for ensuring that the best technical approach is followed. Failure to establish these roles prevents the important checks and balances of a strong team, or creates an environment where team members are bypassed to avoid conflict, to the detriment of the project.
Titles which are inflated, for any reason, defeat the organization. Even if it is an interim assignment, if the title holder is not well-suited for their post, problems will arise. An undeserved promotion is difficult to undo, and can have serious long-term consequences.
It’s impossible to construct the perfect team, so in addition to the formal assignment of titles and roles, the team members’ strengths and weaknesses must be considered.
The starting point should be the company’s mission statement. After all, the objective of the team is to fulfill the mission of the company, or some element of it. Once the mission is broken out into tangible pieces, identifying who is best at delivering them is next. Care should be taken to ensure the flow of deliverables is properly managed by those best qualified.