Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Do Rigid Job Titles Restrict Your Team’s Performance?

Over the years, I have noticed how many people get attached to job titles, particularly in their letters and on their business cards. Some are in the game for a higher rank, and achieving their desired title is almost like wining an Olympic medal. It’s something for them to hold on to.

If I had my way, we at Stewart/Perry might consider having no titles on our business cards at all.

Some of our team members wear so many hats in their day-to-day tasks that a standard business card couldn’t hold enough words to properly title them. Having said this, I suppose the reality is that we all need titles to communicate a general idea of our role to new contacts. After they get to know us, our actions and our good word should be our title.

As an example, there are two titles in our organization that are co-mingled: estimating and project management. I like a team approach where one person’s job is primarily estimating, but with the ability to negotiate subcontracts, develop scopes and create schedules. This estimator would partner with a project manager for follow though.

Our estimating team members sometimes know the market in a different way than those who have been involved in the “trees.” They see a total view of the marketplace and beyond. Estimating requires a bit more of an engineering personality – more cautious, careful and a bit more clinical.

Depending on client needs, estimating doesn’t always take the lead on a project. Sometimes our project managers will guide the estimating function of a job with a teammate from estimating. By getting involved early, project management becomes a stakeholder in the success. I’ve found this minimizes communication breakdowns.

Either way, I want the team to own or manage a project from all angles so we can we provide the best results, value and delivery to our customer relationship. The simple truth is each team member likes doing different things. When they all work together, we’ve got a winning combination.

If properly approached, it doesn’t really matter which job title is completing which task. The sum of the parts is always greater than the whole.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.