What’s in a Role Name?

Strategy, Architecture & Problem-Solving

What’s in a Role Name?



How many people do you have in your organisation that produce the product for the customer and how many manage those people?

We assume more people doing and fewer managing within an extended enterprise (allowing for counting those in outsourced functions).


I was trying to find a new contact in a well-known company. One with a significant presence in the UK (might originally have been a UK company if I remember correctly). And I wanted to know who the relevant partner-relations person would be. You’d think that would be a public role and relatively easy to find.

What I noticed as a I searched through LinkedIn and cross-referenced with Twitter was that everyone was a manager. I hadn’t selected any seniority level, the search results reflected all the titles in that company.

So I looked a bit further down the search results for that company. Of the first 60 or so roles, this is what I found:


  • Vice President x 1
  • Director x 6
  • Head x 2
  • Manager x 20

= 29 managerial/executive roles

  • Executive x 3

= 3 executive – but this may not mean C-suite, may actually mean sales executive, etc.

  • Consultant x 3
  • Sales x 1
  • Econometrician x 1
  • Specialist x 2
  • Architect x 1
  • Analyst x 6
  • Developer x 1
  • Engineer x 3
  • Administrator x 1
  • Author x 1
  • Accountant x 1
  • Interim x 1
  • Graduate x 1

= 23 doers

Initial thoughts

Note that there are Managers in that sample set. It will probably be biased due to featuring only those people who have current accounts on LinkedIn, i.e. those on the phones in the call-centre are less likely to have LinkedIn accounts.

Overall that company in the UK had 29 managerial/executive roles versus 23 non-managerial, with 3 that I couldn’t place due to ambiguity. That’s top-heavy for any organisation.

Even in the doers, there are some roles that aren’t going to be directly related to producing for the customer. I see an accountant in there. It’s also likely that the interim and the graduate aren’t up to full potential and could well be in overhead roles as well.

With the proliferation of new titles and the need to make people managers, I’m wondering how many of those managers actually manage other people? I’ve seen companies that have every person in a team classed as a manager, e.g. claims manager, complaint manager, etc. This distorts the analysis. More importantly, it can distort the customer perspective, e.g. “can I speak to a manager?” can be met legitimately with a manager who managers no-one.

I’m also curious what the benchmark would be, bearing in mind that, as mentioned above, presence on LinkedIn is already biased.

As for that company, I didn’t actually find anyone with the appropriate title which gave me other thoughts about their partnership engagement.

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