What Do You Call Your Employees?


I hate titles because I am punk rock. Obvs Rawr. Grrr. I’m so angry. I’m raging against the machine.

Whatever. Just kidding. I do hate titles because they are stupid and limiting. They never quite capture what we do for a living. I have a good friend (and reader) who was just promoted to VP of People. Although it is the dumbest title in the history of mankind for a Vice President of Human Resources, I am sorta jealous. Being VP of People is one step away from being Queen.

But let’s be clear: I would be VP of all people. My domain wouldn’t end in Human Resources. Duh.

The worst titles are the ones we use to differentiate labor versus management. I have worked for a ton of companies and I have been referred to as an associate, colleague, employee, laborer, teammate, workmate, and partner.

At my current company, I am an agent.

  • A gate agent?
  • An agent of change?
  • An agent of doom?

You pick. As long as my check cashes on time and I get to work with great people, I don’t give a shit.

The guys who run my company are partners. They are from Texas so people ask, “Are they howdy partners or law firm partners?”

I have to clarify — they are equity partners. They own the organization.

Okay, fine. They are howdy partners, too.

I get totally confused, sometimes. I met a CEO, a few weeks ago, and introduced myself as a partner while standing next to one of the partners of my firm. Then I said, “No wait, I’m an associate.” Then I blanked out and said — I’m not really sure what I do for a living. I’m Laurie Ruettimann.

Like a crack addict, I just kept talking while I tried to figure out how to refer to myself.

He looked at me like I’m an idiot.

I looked at him and wondered, “Is this guy British?”

I wonder — what do you call your employees? What do you call your management team? Do you think corporations are people? (Oh snap. Snuck that one in there.)

More importantly — if you work in HR, what’s your title? Do you refer to yourselves as HR, personnel, people resources, or something equally as stupid?

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