What if we gave all those stuffy, vague job titles the boot and let people craft new titles that capture what they’re really about?
That’s what many businesses are doing these days – and their employees couldn’t be happier about it. In his blog post, More death to job titles, Alexander Kjerulf (Chief Happiness Officer, incidentally), argues that job titles are “a waste of time and contribute nothing to our productivity, creativity or happiness at work. In fact, job titles can be the source of a lot of disputes and bickering in the workplace.”
Alexander’s post inspired the Web Marketing Director at Quicken Loans so much that he challenged his Web Marketing Team to come up with new job titles that express who they are and their impact on the business and their teammates. The results? Whimsical titles like:
• Royal Storyteller & Propaganda Minister
• Supreme Challenger of the Status Quo & Wicked Web Site Innovator
• Innovation Maven and Revenue Raiser
• Mastermind of Possibilities, Visual Linguist, and Czar of the High Fiber Revolution
• Art Juggler
• Idea Launcher
• Head Brother In Charge of Chat
• Reality Check Provider
What do you think? Is this something that can work in the right environment, allowing for greater self-expression in the workplace? Or could titles like these backfire, leading to more confusion than clarity? According to one person’s comments to Alexander’s blog post, “Job titles are important in my opinion. They should be concise, professional and define what the person does. If I got an email from someone and in the signature it said they were a Conceptologist or a Wicked Website Innovator, I would not take them or their company seriously …”
Perhaps a compromise is in order. In What’s In A Job Title? More Than You’d Think!, a recent survey by Pearl Meyer & Partners is cited, where 95% of respondents said that job titles were important, whether for conveying corporate hierarchy or for recognizing valued employees when funds are limited.
But there’s a twist. According to the survey, many companies assign formal, “official” job titles, while also allowing the use of alternative, “working” titles. Managers and their employees can customize these less-traditional job titles to reflect an individual’s responsibilities, preferences and just as important, personality. Many employees will then take it upon themselves to create business cards with these alternative job titles or use the tweaked job titles on social networking pages such as LinkedIn.
So maybe your company isn’t quite ready for titles like “Propaganda Minister” or “Innovative Maven”, but how about something a little more descriptive than “Creative Director” or “Communications Coordinator”? Your employees are unique and multi-dimensional - why shouldn’t their job titles be, too?