No Employee Titles at Square?  A Little Greasy, but Clever

No Employee Titles at Square? A Little Greasy, but Clever

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Square doesn’t give most employees titles. Surely there’s some warm and fuzzy internal explanation to this employee-centric “logic.” I can only imagine the, “We’re all in this together, it’s all about the team, no one is more important than someone else” speeches.

I feel bad for those who fall for the baloney, but I feel even worse for those that see through it and choose to work there and reward Square anyway.

Once you get past the let’s hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya pictures in your head, you can pinch yourself and realize how it sells employees short.

 

Credibility Concerns

How does this goofiness play out in the life of a loyal rank and file contributor at Square? Can you imagine the difficulties employees have in communicating with the outside world? Working with potential partners, distributors, or suppliers?

“Yeah, I know I don’t have a title, but I swear I’m not an intern, and I can actually make decisions.” Or, “What, you can’t figure out who to talk to? Trust me, even I have a hard time figuring out who does what, and I’ve worked here two years. Yeah, that’s because we don’t have titles, makes life tough for you and us, but isn’t it warm and fuzzy?” Imagine how difficult, or nearly impossible, it would be for an employee to establish immediate credibility in a business development setting.

Doesn’t any good employer want to needlessly stack the odds against their loyal employees? Make their work more difficult than it needs to be? Or place unnecessary roadblocks in their path? I missed that CEO self-help memo.

 

Stunting Career Advancement

Or how about another, even more practical problem, one that employees should take personally – like it or not, titles matter for career advancement in the real world, the real world being defined as anywhere but Square. Career advancement is tied to pay raise opportunities, the validation of self, and finding meaning in our accomplishments – that we’re making personal progress – topics that tend to especially matter to the types drawn to the world of tech.

I imagine the top brass and HR folks at Square preach to their employees how working at Square will lead to great career opportunities. Yeah, how about some proof by way of titles? That’s a major disconnect between words and action.

Square wins at its employees’ expense in some smart (albeit greasy) ways. Everyone knows talent is highly recruited in tech anywhere, but especially in the Bay Area. Why not put some real obstacles up to create friction for companies or headhunters trying to recruit?

No-titles means that Square employees are hard to effectively target and recruit. Good for Square, but bad for the people they supposedly care about. Not exactly the alignment of interests you want to create with your employees. If your employees have the chance to leave your company because someone else can offer them a better opportunity, whether measured by pay, career advancement, or both, companies that really care about their employees will congratulate them on their way out, regardless of how painful the loss is. That competition for talent makes us kick-ass employers; it’s good for us and our employees.

 

Titles Cheer Success

We should cheer the success of our employees even when it leads to a parting of ways. Rewarding employees with titles is just as important as other types of rewards.

Wake up Square employees, and make sure to check if we’re hiring. We’ll even give you a title!

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About the Author — Levi King is co-founder and CEO of Nav, a free way for business owners to manage their entire credit and financial life. King is a six-time entrepreneur who has started successful businesses in the manufacturing, hospitality, retail financial services, and franchising spaces. He has accessed financing more than 30 times and founded Nav to provide small-business owners with a resource to help ease the process.

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