job titleThese days someone’s job title says little about what the person actually does, especially in roles where their responsibilities are multifaceted. For instance, a CEO could be the organization’s operations manager, a spokesperson for an industry or a market analyst and a manager at a fast food chain will, at times, be a cook, accountant or even a cleaner. An Entrepreneur article titled “Give your employees an identity worthy of ownership” says that giving people the right job title can “serve as profound sources of motivation.” I agree that having meaningful, appropriate job titles is critical for people; however, changing job titles without a commitment to think and act differently isn’t meaningful and can be destructive. We have seen many organizations that have invented new titles for various functions, such as “customer advocates” and “customer champions.” But all they really were was just titles. There was no underlying change to the business processes or culture, just a change of a few words. We’ve seen so much of this that we have become very cynical. When we are see new titles, we immediately look for evidence that the organization actually wants to do something different. For example, in customer service and sales environments, we look for a compelling purpose and changes in how people are measured. In many cases, the change to the title is accompanied by a tightening of controls and less trust which is usually a contradiction to the implication of the new title. While a title can change people’s perceptions, changing a title without changing the underlying culture can cause disillusionment and a negative response. If you don’t change anything else, a new title is just a meaningless label and that’s all it ever will be.  ]]>

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