by Michelle Hinson
We’ve spent the last few months at my new gig hashing over job titles. Since we are a start-up, we have that luxury or that burden, depending on if your propensity is toward half-full or half-empty glasses.
The prevailing thought in my office? You can call me janitor as long as you pay me. But, in a world were we are defined by our job titles, is that really true? Or do we just want it to appear that our ego is not involved? That we really are more than our jobs? Nice thought—but deep down, we know titles really do matter. It’s how we define others and ourselves.
While researching this article, I found “Job Titles as Identity Badges: How Self-Reflective Titles Can Reduce Emotional Exhaustion” (Grant, Berg & Cable, 2013). It’s a fantastic look at how letting an employee choose a job title that reflects what they do can result in decreased mental exhaustion over time. The premise being that job titles can be a good source of identity expression and stress reduction. Makes sense. Especially if you have ever settled for a new title in lieu of a raise. And if you get to create that title yourself? All the better! Just ask the Chief Rainmaker & Storyteller I recently met. Yep, said it on his card.
Job titles can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A Public Relations Specialist may not feel like they have power to make decisions (no matter how small), while a Director will assume some level of authority to, well, direct. But how does Director differ from Vice President in a company that does not have vice presidents? And what exactly is the difference among those that practice public relations, communications, marketing, marketing communications, or any of the 30-plus other names we call what we do? Has anyone measured reputation, expectation, productivity, or success by job/department title? We should!
Which brings me to ask, if we renamed curling would the sport be more interesting? I bet more folks would tune in if it were called “Rock, Placer, Sweepers.” Don’t ya think?
(Thanks to pictopin for the image.)
Michelle Hinson is the director of marketing and communications for Nue Medical Consulting based in Lawrenceville, GA. She is a founding member of the Institute for Public Relations' Commission on Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation and on the board of the International Public Relations Research Conference. She does her best thinking while playing table hockey.