Job Titles Matter

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I always get some flack for this, but job titles matter.

We use language to speak to one another, and we use titles to tap into a common way we understand how people fit into the world.

  • Ma’am.
  • Missus.
  • Mister.
  • Sir.
  • O Captain! My Captain!

At work, a good job title tells me where you belong, what you do, and how you contribute to the bottom line. And if I’m being honest with you, titles help employees know whether or not you matter.

  • If you’re a Human Resources Manager or a Sales Trainer, I know what you do.
  • If you’re a project manager or a database administrator, that’s kind of helpful.
  • If you’re a Cruise Ship Director or Director of Chaos, I don’t know what you do for the organization or how I can help you (more importantly).

Although I used to tell people that I didn’t give a shit what they put on their business cards, I cared A LOT. I worked hard at several companies to remove bad titles and align normal titles to compensation levels because I think this whole body of HR work is important. I am not interested in creating a militaristic hierarchy of job titles, but I am interested in consistency and clarity. Titles help the world understand who you are and what you do for a living. Titles — like a consumer brand — help the marketplace understand your value proposition and hold you accountable for a standard of delivery.

And despite what some stupid wanna-be-entrepreneur CEO tells you, it’s not an honor to create your own wacky job title. It’s a distraction from the real work of creating value for shareholders and investors. Children create crazy job titles. Adults create wealth and larger profit margins.

So go ahead and call me misguided and old fashioned, but crazy job titles — while fun — show a lack of maturity and misplaced prioritization in an organization. Don’t call your Customer Service Manager the ‘Big Kahuna’ unless he’s a douchebag frat boy. Spend time mentoring him, teaching him the business, and helping him become the next Customer Service Director.

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