, ,

Interesting article in the Economic Times about designations/titles. Do they keep employees in good humour? The article says that while the debate on monetary versus job satisfaction as an engagement tool rages on, India Inc, has discovered a novel way not just to keep its flock together, but happy too.

We have had titles as diverse as Chief Evangelist or Chief Fun Officer in corporations. Cisco has a Chief Globalisation Officer and a Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion. IBM has a work-life integration leader. Sapient a Director of People Success. Other titles mentioned include Chief Brand Architect, Chief Privacy Officer, Chief Competitive Officer etc. At a senior level, I feel, these titles reflect the job holder’s role more clearly. But should this trend go down to all levels?

A senior executive is quoted as saying that titles gain more relevance, especially at the lower levels within organizations. “Designations like chief impression officer (for a receptionist) or a car manager (instead of a driver), are ways of showing respect to the positions and functions,” he says .“Such designations also act as motivators as roles like that of a receptionist are the ones that create the first and lasting impression for a company.

Two years ago, Chennai-based GRT hotel chain introduced the designation loss-prevention manager to lend more respectability and accountability to the security function.

I, for one, believe that treating people with professional respect counts for far more than the title especially at lower levels. In our country at least, leave alone the public at large, I am somewhat skeptical about their own family and friends – their immediate society- referring to receptionists as chief impression officers, security personnel as loss prevention managers or to drivers as car managers.

Are we putting creativity ahead of prudence? With tongue firmly in cheek, I ask, should we revamp all titles? Would we see the following changes?

  • Lead Global Warming Arrester for Head Gardener
  • Nutrition Provider in Chief for Head Cook
  • Guide To The Top Level for Elevator Operator
  • Chief Recycler for Janitor

Will some one in the People function responsible for churning out new titles be called a Positive Image Capturer?

Have fun. Make up your own list!

More seriously, I believe the way you treat people is far more important than what you call them. Titles sit lightly on the shoulders of senior executives who are extremely well compensated. For example, calling a retired Brigadier as Chief Loss Prevention Manager is fine by me. But calling a security guard Loss Prevention Executive when they are mostly on contract and likely to lose their own job at the drop of a hat?

I feel giving a seemingly glamorous title to some one whose challenge is to keep body and soul together is misplaced magnanimity.

What are your views?