Business is evolving at a furious pace. We are constantly facing challenges for which there are no precedents. One of the aspects fascinating me at present is that of the titles we award ourselves and our employees.
What is in a title? Try these on for size: Nourishment Consultant (Lunch Lady), Maintenance Engineer (Janitor), Facilities Generalist (Janitor), Petroleum Transfer Engineer (guess that one?), Gastronomical Hygiene Technician (Dish Washer)…….
The list goes on and on, and whilst I poke a bit of fun at these euphemisms, I find I’m fully cognisant of the import a job title actually conveys.
Quite aside from ridiculously creative job titles, there are those that effectively raise the profile of the position and hopefully inculcate a measure of respect for the person carrying out the function. In fact if the title is apt, descriptive of the actual duties assigned to the holder, and manages to convey greater credibility, I’m all for it. But I worry that in the name of sensitivity companies have done the people saddled with these esoteric job titles a disservice. The patently inappropriate descriptors used, serve only to bring about the reverse – mockery.
In many cases, a more professional title carries with it a greater measure of self-respect for the person who’s performing the function. It serves a valuable purpose, but only if it is realistic. I get confused particularly with American companies who have numerous VP’s (vice presidents). In my book, you have one president and one vice president – whether it be for the whole organisation, a department or a position therein; the repeatedly incorrect usage of a title renders it valueless.
I also believe that hitherto, we have devalued many jobs which has in turn led to our devaluing the holders thereof. Or was it the other way round?
It is a fact that recognition of our position within our ‘tribe’ (organisation) is important and the appellation accorded to our position very often reveals exactly where we fit on the organogram. Remember, in tribal culture (read workplace), you can live or die according to where you are on the food chain, unless your company is one of those forward-thinking entities which promotes an holistic view of the organisation. Right there is a subject which warrants its own blog!
I feel that euphemisms are employed principally to fudge the actual level of seniority or expertise we possess and thus present a somewhat impenetrable barrier to gaining a clear understanding of who’s who in the zoo. This is not useful and often ends up with employees feeling patronised rather than recognised.
So next time you wrack your brains to find a grandiose title to describe someone, remember that most people hate being treated like idiots. Rather look for a respectful but accurate title to bestow upon them, and yourself while you’re at it!
What do you think about creative job titles? Let us know in the comments!
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