Who's in charge?
July 10, 2009 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Can you clarify the differences between a director, a manager and a coordinator in the typical corporate hierarchy? Which title is considered to have the most responsibility/power, etc?
posted by bookmammal to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Anecdotal: In one company I worked for, managers were higher up than directors and managed entire departments where directors managed employees directly and were over a smaller unit. Where I work now, directors are higher than managers, and manage an entire department. Managers manage supervisors and supervisors manage employees, so there's another level stuck in there.
posted by ishotjr at 7:15 PM on July 10, 2009

Director would be the highest level, then manager, then coordinator.

Where I work, a director would be in charge of a department or division and would have ultimate financial and supervisory responsibility for that department. Several managers report to the director and they directly supervise the employees and have a piece of the budget to manage. If the manager's group is very large, they may also have a few supervisors who directly interact with the employees in terms of giving out work and doing performance reviews. We don't have coordinators as an official title, but I would equate them to supervisor, I guess.
posted by cabingirl at 7:20 PM on July 10, 2009

Where I work, the ranks go:

Senior Vice-President
Executive Director
Senior Manager

There are also many more specific titles at the co-ordinator level and below. Perhaps not co-incidentally, this is the highest level where people are expected to do actual work. ;)
posted by FishBike at 7:21 PM on July 10, 2009

In my corporation, there are no directors (I believe that was the position the ceo was hired for and after getting the job changed the title). Managers are one step below the ceo and part of the "management team" each with responsibilty over entire departments, one step below that are branch managers (directly supervising staff, responsible for day to day) and co-ordinators (no staff, special responsibilities, no power). Then there are the front-line plebs like myself that actually do work. (Seriously, I worked closely with a member of the management team that spent weeks doing nothing but revise our mission statement over and over). We are unionised so everyone in those three levels are non-union staff.

I had no idea "co-ordinator" was a valid job title, I thought my corporation made it up to make the powerless, underpaid co-ordinators feel good without actually granting them any managerial power.
posted by saucysault at 7:35 PM on July 10, 2009

I'm a vaguely international business consultant who trips over the globally various uses of these terms, which vary by region and industry. The film and insurance industries definitely have different uses of the word "director" for example. Also, Europe/Asia/NorAm are quite distinct. But in general...

Directors set company direction, and don't handle individual products/services/customers. They work at the "overall company" level, or in a very large business, "overall division or region." Directors work with the company overall as their unit, and can be judged by how sane/smart/steady the company direction is.

Managers manage people, in order to get value out of them. Managers work with people as their unit, and can be measured by how productive their people are.

Coordinators coordinate work, whether that means production of items (manufacturing) or project management (service industries). Rather than people as a responsibility, they have projects as their units, and can be measured by the success/failure/profitability of their various projects.
posted by rokusan at 7:38 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

At my company it goes:

Everyone else
posted by radioamy at 8:43 PM on July 10, 2009

I didn't address the "who has more power" part of your question, sorry.

It depends on the definition of power. More power in terms of overall company direction and (likely) salary? Directors. More power in terms of day to day influence over staff? Managers. More power over the nuts and bolts of making products or delivering services? Coordinators.

It's almost always Director > Manager > Coordinator, but those last two can be reversed in a company that is project driven. Managers are more about people, coordinators are more about production.

And as I said, there are terminological differences depending on industry. A "brand manager" or "product manager" for example, is actually a coordinator, despite that word. So is a "line producer".
posted by rokusan at 10:05 PM on July 10, 2009

By typical you mean American? I think the there may be some arbitrariness about the terms used (in the English speaking world anyway). In my corp. of 20K employees:

CEO (Level 6)
CFO (Level 5)
Group Executive (Level 5)
Executive General Manager (Level 4)
Executive Manager (Level 3)

Then some inter-changeable terms:

Manager, Operational Leader, Senior Advisor, Team Leader, Project manager, Supervisor, Advisor, Coordinator, Administrator, Counsel, Specialist etc (Level 2)

Then everyone else (and there is a lot of cross-over because my company has lots of swallowed-up-not-yet-fully-integrated-entities-as-part-of-it):

Officer, Consultant, Assistant, Minion, Monkey, Underling, Shit-kicker etc (Level 1).

At my corp. 'Level' describes 'level of work' - not just salary range or importance in the hierarchy. It's perfectly possible for a Level 1 who is some kind of IT software genius to out-salary a Level 3 customer service manager who is just a shit-kicker who kicked enough to shit to climb the ladder.

I've worked for a few corps (non-USian) and they all use the terminology differently. Different again in the UK, Europe etc.
posted by evil_esto at 3:54 AM on July 11, 2009

In addition to the above, which demonstrates that these issues vary, you should be aware that, from a legal perspective, a "director" is a member of the board of directors, which is (theoretically) the most powerful body.

The theoretical corporate organization structure is as follows. Those who are elected or selected are supposed to answer to those above.

The shareholders elect the board of directors.
The directors select the officers, including the CEO.
The Chairman of the Board (of Directors) may or may not have operational responsibilities.
The officers select the managers and others with supervisory responsibility.
The managers hire the workers.

Again, this is theoretical. A large part of what is wrong in today's economy is that directors of many companies have abdicated their responsibilities to the officers.
posted by megatherium at 4:29 AM on July 11, 2009

Director would be highest.

Directors interpret strategy into goals.

Directors direct managers to decide what work needs to be done to achieve those goals.

Managers manage individual contributors and coordinators to get the actual work done.
posted by like_neon at 5:32 AM on July 13, 2009

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