I was recently privy to an offer letter to a 2011 college graduate signed by the “Senior Vice President of Employee Success.” Although its easy to deride non-traditional titles (and there are plenty to snigger at), I thought this one was quite good.
Think of yourself as a college grad with minimal or no exposure yet to the human resources function beyond campus recruiters. You can imagine that someone in the company is responsible for recruiting you, for evaluating you, paying you and developing you…some sort of nebulous entity that will work with your manager to make everything work out over the course of your employment there.
Typical (uninformed) impressions of the HR function among new entrants into the labor force are that it’s role is to watch management’s back and keep control over employees, largely through performance evaluations. There may not be anything in the hiring process that disabuses potential hires of this view.
All things equal, you receive offer letters from a number of different companies. These will typically be signed by an HR manager or leader – let’s say VP of Campus Recruiting, VP of Recruiting, VP of Talent, or VP of HR. All these are bland functional titles. Now you receive one from the SVP of Employee Success.
First of all, it stands out from the rest. You immediately wonder what could be different about this company versus the rest (and you would analyze all elements of the offer to get further clues to make the choice between offers). Second, it is an encouraging signal. There’s a person and perhaps an organization in the company that is vested in your success. It could mean that the company will offer more development assets and opportunities than the others. Third, it immediately makes you think of success. This resonates deeply with what you are currently experiencing – graduating from college and being pursued by companies – and correlates this feeling with working for that company.
If all companies regard their people as the most valuable asset, why aren’t all of them focused, aligned and organized from an HR standpoint to ensure that their employees are successful? Granted, not all employees can be successful all the time, but “Employee Success” hints at support, promotion and reward rather than competition and culling.
I’m not a fan of silly titles, but this one is not – it is a serious statement of philosophy and intent. For any company who truly values its people, such a title conveys a forward-thinking mindset. If there’s substance behind the rhetoric, that company’s HR organization is a competitive advantage.