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Don’t Judge Talent by a Title

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Or in the case of the retail industry, don’t judge talent by a title. A “Vice President” is not a title that has a standard description or standard quality across all retail chains.

The retail industry in Canada has a range of sales from thousands of dollars per year in volume to $40+ Billion. It is no wonder there is so much disparity between titles and the responsibility.

A Store Manager in one company may make $75,000 while in another they may earn $200,000+. Yet they are still “Store Managers” if they wear a badge at a conference.

Many research projects attempt to benchmark such things as titles, and total compensation, only to be further reminded that there is a huge gap in the industry, and one that I believe will never close.

The risk with such a gap is just that – the gap. 

How do you know what you are getting?

You may meet a Vice President in one organization that has the job scope of a Senior Manager in another. Likewise, a Senior Manager in one organization could easily be a Vice President in most others because of their talent and scope of the job…what they are responsible for and what they bring to the bottom line.

You get what you pay for

There are other disparities that pose a huge challenge for the Human Resources professional. Compensation in one company may not be administered as diligently and fairly as another company. Yet most moves can be made at about the 10% mark. That means you can offer a 10% bump and most employees will jump ship (unless they are 100% engaged!).

The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle suggests that there is a ceiling to one’s capability. Many companies promote individuals to their level of incompetence. This does not mean to suggest that the person is incapable, but that the organization promotes based on success, and fails to recognize the limit, or in most cases fails to provide the incumbent with the appropriate coaching to get to the next level. The person is then promoted to a position that is so much of a stretch that they fail. However, the role one step down is a cakewalk for them. But so many companies react by terminating the individual.

So how does all of this work in the real world?

Simply put, an individual working for a company that falls into the Peter Principle trap may find they are displaced because the company viewed them as a failure. Their title, therefore, is greater than their capability. Another company picks them up off the market and places them in a role with an extra 10% and a bigger title. Voila, you now have a Senior VP with the capability of a Senior Manager.

The Bottom Line?

The value you get for your money. It’s like paying a Ferrari price for a Genesis. Don’t get me wrong a Genesis is a great car, I had one for years…it’s just not worth $250,000, it’s simply not in the same category, and if you try to compare the 2 then the Genesis would fail – the Peter Principle.

So when I tell you I am “President of my Company”, please do not confuse this with my ability to run an organization such as Apple or Google…I’m just a President of my Consulting Firm, that’s all.

What does this have to do with Loss Prevention?

Simply put, if you subscribe to the philosophy that your bottom line is impacted by your people, would you not want the right people in the right jobs?


Hello, I'm Stephen O'Keefe. The information you read here is intended to help businesses answer some of the tough questions about everyday events in the retail environment. After spending over 3 decades in this industry we've seen a lot!
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About Stephen O'Keefe

As an independent consultant I leverage my experience and knowledge to help a number of companies achieve results. Clients range from non-retailers looking for guidance to serve their retail customer, to retailers looking for quick solutions to unique and costly problems, right to the Industry Association. Bottom line Matters!

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