One of the lessons I learned through our reorganization project recently was the power of words – especially when attached to job titles.
In an article in the recent Knowledge@Wharton e-newsletter the author points to the value of how titles are created and the intrinsic message that is created as a result. At the same time, there is recognition that “title inflation” may be the unintended result of the drive to create titles such as Chief Relationship Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Experience Officer, etc.
However, I would hazard a guess that many of us have experienced roles that probably had a “normal” title but the work was more in the line of the new title trends. I would suggest that we start considering a multi-level title. The first is level is the “public” title that goes on the business card. The second is the internal title that helps to explain what the employee actually does and may be placed as a sub-title on the business card.
Let me offer an example:
Many non-profits are starting to recognize the power of the internet and the brand/image that they project through their Web interactions. And some, are taking that to the next level and actually assigning a staff person the duty of monitoring the traffic on the internet that relates to their organization. This person may be a staff person on the Web team, a donor response person, a communications person, or some other “regular” role. However, their sub-title might be Chief Web Experience Officer.
Herein lies some danger though. As we strive to encourage our staff and provide experiences to them that they find valuable, it is important to realize that placement and title-ing is only part of the story. Support and resources become critical to enhancing the results. It is not enough to provide a fancy title. We must be prepared to allow the person to act within their role.
If you are working through job descriptions, organization charts, staffing needs, etc consider the words you use. Not only in the titles but in the descriptions. They may be more important than you think.
Some rambling thoughts for consideration.