Why we choose our own job titles

by Braintree on October 06, 2010

Braintree is a flat organization. We don't have an employee hierarchy or official job titles, so everybody can choose whichever title they want, if they want one at all.

Although job titles don't have a purpose internally of indicating hierarchy, they do help externally when we're communicating with customers. It's helpful for our customers to know if they're talking to somebody from sales, support, or development since people usually set their expectations based on the job title of the person that they're talking to. Somebody from sales may not be able to answer a complicated technical question, but a software developer within the company should be able to answer it.

We recently hired a new sales person, Rob. He viewed choosing his title as an opportunity to communicate more than simply his job function. He's choosing E-Commerce Consultant because it fits his overall disposition and selling philosophy.

Braintree is always interested in finding the best solution for our prospective customers. In some cases, the best solution isn't us. So if we are talking to a prospect and we feel like they will be better served by working with one of our competitors, we'll tell them. Another part of being an E-Commerce Consultant is staying abreast of the industry. With innovations around micro payments, group payments, alternative payments, etc. merchants need to work with somebody who is knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses and can help find the best solutions.

Rob's title encompasses all these ideas brilliantly. In another organization, Rob may not have felt as though he had the license to exercise his creativity and personal philosophy. Boxing people in too tightly can have a negative effect on the value they are capable of creating, which is why we allow everyone to customize their position and contribute some of their personal philosophy to the culture of the organization.

Although it's only a couple words in the signature of an email, a job title can say a lot about who you are. What do you think? Do job titles matter in a flat organization?

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