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Hi! I'm a "new" "manager". I've lead 3 teams over the last year and a half - the first was a technical team, the second was a mix of business analysts and technical people, and the current group is business analysts only.

I've had one on ones during this time, staff meetings, staff appreciation events, mentored, coached and given feedback (been listening to the podcasts! :) ). But - the big but - I do not have a manager title according to the HR department. Because my job does not have a manager title, it doesn't have any of the benefits associated with such titles (our managers get bonuses and other bennies). I have people reporting to me, while there are other folks who have a manager title that don't *have* any direct reports. I am expected to do all the classic responsibilities of a manager, without any of this acknowledged in our HR system, nor any of the benefits.

I *am* learning so it's not all bad, however, I fear that my future is at risk if I continue to accept this as the status quo.

Thoughts?

aniinl's picture

Hi pygmymetal,

have you brought this up with HR or someone before? Did you get any explanation as to what the definition of the word "manager" is in your company? I'm also coming from a background where the word "manager" doesn't always reveal if a person is managing "tasks" or people (as in "account manager" for example).

What is your job title if it doesn't contain the word manager? Are there others in the same situation as you? Maybe you need to have done the job for a certain amount of time before they upgrade your job title, but I would think after 1.5 years this should have happened.
Or maybe the benefits are related to your level of seniority in the organization, rather than to the fact if you're managing people or not.

You've changed teams a lot during the past 1.5 years, is that common in your business? Maybe when you change to the next one it's time to renegotiate and address those points?

I'm just guessing here, since you didn't disclose how much investigation on this you've already done. But I would make sure to find out how the benefit system in your company works exactly, because what if someone in HR just forgot to add the word manager to your job title...? :(

Anja

HMac's picture

Hi pygmymetal,

I'm just trying to get a clearer picture of your situation:

Where's your boss in all this? Does he/she support your being designated a manager?

Are there others in the company in the same situation as you?

Do you do the performance appraisals/annual reviews for your staff?

Do you hire/fire your staff?

Does your annual performance plan include objectives for you that describe managing others?

jhack's picture

HMac nailed it:

If you do their performance reviews, if you work out their salaries, and if you hire and fire, then you're a manager. Regardless of title.

John

pygmymetal's picture

The CIO has refused to give me a manager title 'because we have far to many managers already'. I support backoffice software products and I'm the lead for a team of folks who handle bugs and enhancement requests. There are 3 leads for the different backoffice areas. Of the leads, I am the only one who has experience in all 3 areas. I have a technical background to boot, so of the 3, I'm the strongest techo-functional person there and I've been there the longest (after my boss).

[quote]have you brought this up with HR or someone before?[/quote]
Not yet. I wanted to review all my options first. :)

[quote] Did you get any explanation as to what the definition of the word "manager" is in your company? I'm also coming from a background where the word "manager" doesn't always reveal if a person is managing "tasks" or people (as in "account manager" for example). [/quote]

There are job titles and there are roles, which confuses the mix. We have a Vice President who is an "account manager". The Senior Directors under him are now "service managers". I report to a Senior Director and my job title is Analyst but my role is "lead". There are 2 other "leads" in my group that do the same thing I do but for different areas. The answer to the question - what is the definition of a manager - is on my task list.

[quote]What is your job title if it doesn't contain the word manager? Are there others in the same situation as you? Maybe you need to have done the job for a certain amount of time before they upgrade your job title, but I would think after 1.5 years this should have happened.
Or maybe the benefits are related to your level of seniority in the organization, rather than to the fact if you're managing people or not.[/quote]

I know the benefits of the company pretty intimately because I've supported their benefits team for the last 2 years so I can say pretty confidently that seniority is not the driving factor for the benefits.

[quote]You've changed teams a lot during the past 1.5 years, is that common in your business? Maybe when you change to the next one it's time to renegotiate and address those points? [/quote]

No, but our company has been growing at a feverish rate. I have the ability to be put into an area that needs shaping up, quickly master the processes and end up with a strong team that delivers to the customers on time and with what they want and need.

[quote]I'm just guessing here, since you didn't disclose how much investigation on this you've already done. But I would make sure to find out how the benefit system in your company works exactly, because what if someone in HR just forgot to add the word manager to your job title...? [/quote]

Wish it was that simple. :)

[quote]Where's your boss in all this? Does he/she support your being designated a manager?
[/quote]

I've spoken with him about it and he blames the CIO.

[quote]
Are there others in the company in the same situation as you?
[/quote]

Yes, 2 others. See my comment above.

[quote]
Do you do the performance appraisals/annual reviews for your staff?
[/quote]

Yes

[quote]
Do you hire/fire your staff?
[/quote]

I am involved in the selection and the performance management of the staff and do the work involved, but someone else submits the paperwork for the hiring and firing.

[quote]
Does your annual performance plan include objectives for you that describe managing others?[/quote]

LOL. Oh boy. We don't have goals and objectives here. My boss just told us Monday in a staff meeting "don't worry about them, it's too late this year". I personally want to create some for my people but based on his response Monday, am I going to be put in a negative position by asking my folks to do it when he's said we don't need to? It puts them in a bad position in that they aren't aware of what is expected of them come review time.

I understand that a driving goal may be to develop internal talent but there's some other factors that I forgot to post (I was tired :) ). I was told by the VP last year when I took on the lead of the functional/technical team that I would be a manager 'by July'. That never happened as the CIO shot it down (too many manager titles).

The situation reminds me of the saying 'why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?'. Is it foolish of me to continue down this path without the title? My concern is not only for the present and how to proceed, but for the future. I don't intend to stay at my current employer forever but if my career is to proceed down a managerial path, how can I say I have experience if my title doesn't say I am? How do I present myself on my resume appropriately? How can I apply for a manager position if I can't show the required experience for the position on my resume?

jhack's picture

What's the issue?

You're a manager. You have a title which does not include the word "manager." And the reason it matters is that there are additional (unspecified) benefits that accrue to those with the title?

Is there more to it than that?

There seems to be an additional, separate issue of not having job descriptions and goals. You can solve that by writing them yourself.

John

AManagerTool's picture

John,

I think he said the issue was compensation and bonuses. He gets the fun of management without the bonuses.

Along the lines of John's comments though, why not just ask for the bonuses that the managers get. The CIO doesn't want more managers but that doesn't stop him from compensating you does it? The worst thing that can happen is that he/she says no.

By the way, I hate my title as well. I'm a supervisor but I have more resopnsibility and reports than my manager. The thing is that I make more money than him(so he tells me with more than a bit of pain in his voice) so that is a sweet ointment on my burned ego.

Hope this works out for you...

HMac's picture

BLUF: I don't think you're their manager.

According to your company, you're a "lead" not a "manager."

I'm not saying this is fair. In fact, the company might be taking advantage of you. Or you might be allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.

Or - and this really might be the case - you're trying to be more of a manager than your company wants you to be.

Look, I might be missing something subtle here. And I apologize if this is blunt.

-Hugh

dajoines's picture

I may be off-base, but I think the point of the original poster is being missed. Obviously, his company is not calling him a manager because they would have to compensate him as such. The tell-tale sign here is the CIO saying they have too many managers. Why pay someone as a manager if you can get them to do that job a lower rate of pay? So it seems to me that the main question of the post is: When and how do you approach the upper management team when you feel that you are being taken advantage of?

I am interested in everyone’s opinion on this issue, as well. I have faced this situation in the past and I felt very flattered when I was first approached to take over a function that had previously been handled by someone a level above me even though I would not be receiving their level of compensation. I looked at it as an opportunity to prove that I can handle that increase in responsibility and that, should I perform well in this position, I would be promoted. However, I would continue to perform (pretty well, might I add) in this capacity for an extended period of time (over a year) without the promotion. So how do you bring this to the attention of your superiors without hurting your chances for advancement? And the follow up (for me, anyway), is how hard do you push?

As an epilog to my situation, I did nothing. And I continued doing that job until I found a position in another department. After I left, they reinstated that position with another manager. So I guess by allowing the “status quo” and not pushing the issue, I missed out on an opportunity to advance my career…

jhack's picture

dajoines,

The point Tool and others are trying to make is that you need to address your real issue. If you care about the money but not the title, focus on the comp and forget the title. Fighting for the title is a distraction.

As to your question, it's easier if you set expectations when you accept the role. "If I succeed, will I be given a promotion and raise?"

You can of course go to your boss, tell him/her that you have taken on more responsibility successfully and would like to discuss how you can prepare for a promotion to formalize your new role. Set a timeline, and move on it.

Make sure your network is strong; probe the market so that you know what your alternatives are. Companies often won't do anything until someone quits. It's unfortunate, but it's reality.

John

US41's picture

If you do the performance reviews and divide up the raise money between your reports, you are a manager.

All companies have nonsense where someone with no reports is an Executive Vice President making a half million per year and other people with 300 people under them are titled "Junior Boy Scout." It's rampant. They do that to level pay and bonuses with perceived market value.

The guy with the fancy title is worth that much to them, so they give him whatever is necessary to justify the pay and bonuses.

For you, apparently they think they can clone you up pretty quickly and replace you without a lot of undo effort, thus you are not compensated as heavily and yet still have lots of people parked under you.

Those are all just suppositions, of course, because I have no first hand knowledge, but that's how it seems to be where I am.

I suggest:

1. Decide if you care more about:
o Your title
o Getting a raise
o Receiving a larger bonus permanently
o Receiving a single lump sum dispersal

2. Take that issue up with management

If the title comes with the goodies, they go for that. If the title could be granted with no goodies, forget it, unless it is a title thing.

In some companies, titles are very important, and as yours changes, you people move faster when you ask them to. In other companies, titles are just nonsense that don't pay out for anything other than business cards, and really what you want is cash.

Build a case, confront your boss, ask, and when the answer is no, negotiate. Don't forget to bid high! Many people confront their boss and ask for a raise that was far less than the boss was actually prepared to give! Also, you want some room to negotiate down.

dajoines's picture

John, great point! You hit the nail on the head… I am not concerned about my title; I am concerned with moving my career forward, both in terms of compensation and responsibility. As you can see, this was a learning experience for me. Even though I did not handle it the best way to move me forward, I learned what to expect from this experience and will be better prepared for the next time it happens.

Can I ask a hypothetical? What if I had been better prepared and when I was approached with this new position, I asked “If I succeed, will I be given a promotion and raise?” and the answer was “No”. Or even worse, the answer was very non-committal as in “We will have to evaluate it at that time.” Should I have said that I do not want the position unless there is a payoff at some point and risk a conflict? Or should I not worry about it and realize that this is simply writing on the wall and invest in M&M’s interviewing and begin looking for my next employment opportunity? :lol:

I have a very strong tendency to avoid conflict. Coupled with the fact that I also have a tendency to allow people to walk all over me, I find that I am not a terribly strong advocate for myself. However, I am finding that this forum is really helping me find my way and improve these weaknesses.

jhack's picture

It's very unlikely that a manager would ask for more without any promise of future payoff (honoring that is another matter). And if they said "No" emphatically, you should start looking elsewhere regardless of whether you take on the new role (so take it).

You can still go to your boss, ask for a review, and in that review ask to begin the promotion/comp raise process.

Your situation isn't unique. Having a strong network and knowing that your resume and interview skills are up to date will give you confidence for these conversations.

Most company's wouldn't say "No." They'd be noncommittal. You've got to push for the commitment. It could as simple as scheduling a review in three months, and then at that meeting (assuming it goes well) asking to begin the promotion process.

Some companies see how much they can squeeze out of their employees. Most companies will choose to reward you if you do well. If not, then you ought to be somewhere else.

HMac's picture

[quote="jhack"]Some companies see how much they can squeeze out of their employees. Most companies will choose to reward you if you do well. If not, then you ought to be somewhere else.[/quote]

John: You nailed it.

-Hugh

asteriskrntt1's picture

Pygmymetal

We all have many potential futures. If you are worried that if you look outside your company and you don't have a MANAGER title on your resume, it will limit you, well, don't give that another thought.

As others have said, if you do the job, you are a manager. There is nothing to keep you from putting Manager in your job title or description in your resume. Your job titles are not legal terms, they are HR conveniences.

I had one position where I was (I think) the Senior Subject Matter Expert. No one knew what that was so I changed it on my resume to reflect what the recruiters would understand.

Now I am not saying to misrepresent yourself. I believe it is perfectly acceptable to convert an internal title which is not understandable or reflective of your duties to a title where people will understand your levels of responsibility and accomplishment.

*RNTT

tomw's picture

[quote="jhack"]"Some companies see how much they can squeeze out of their employees.[/quote]

"[i]Some[/i]"?

bflynn's picture

[quote="HMac"][quote="jhack"]Some companies see how much they can squeeze out of their employees. Most companies will choose to reward you if you do well. If not, then you ought to be somewhere else.[/quote]

John: You nailed it.
[/quote]

Ditto. And you should do it sooner rather than later because if you're with a company that squeezes, the company isn't going anywhere fast...because they're losing their best people. Been there, done that. Have the T-Shirt...err polo shirt. :wink:

Brian

ajb_89's picture

Pygmymetal,

If you are in the IT world, there are managers and leads. Leads control the day-to-day work load of the individuals that "report" to them. Some leads have input into hiring candidates and even performance reviews, but ultimately it is the manager that actually hires a candidate and completes the performance reviews. The manager (if s/he is smart) asks input from the lead regarding the employees that report to her/him. It only makes sense. You work with them more than s/he does.

If you just want the word "manager" in your title, then I don't think you will actually be an effective manager if all you are concerned with are titles and appearances.

If it is the compensation that goes with the title and your company will not give it to you, find a department or company that will provide you with the compensation you want.

KEEP IN MIND ... the economy is bad. Be thankful you have a job!