How are job titles used to encourage loyalty and recognize growth while keeping an organization relatively flat?
We've hired fairly seasoned employees to head up and grow specific departments. These employees are asking for more senior level titles without corresponding people management responsibility. They see these titles as relevant to their future careers. At the same time very junior level employees who have been with the company over 5 years are seeking title changes, yet again, without significant headcount responsibility.
I am speaking from the UK so to give you an alternative slant I will tell you how things work in the UK operations.
These days generic job titles are given in terms of your contract of employment. For example "clerk/cashier" covers everything from a 16 year old check out girl to shelf stacker and customer services officer. Even would be intermediate terms as Manager and Supervisor are merely just job titles. In English Law, you can still have the job title : "Manager" / "Supervisor" , but have no one to report in to you; but you have to report in to your superior at say Board of Directors level. As they say in English Law "you can manage yourself; i.e. do not need supervision in your own right, merely to take authority or consent to clear to make certain decisions, that have a direct affect on the company/business stability or solvency.
Most companies and business have a generic job title, followed by a Grade. The Grade alpha/numeric is the guide to the level of the job and its seniority and your job title is largely irrelevant, merely a title to add a signature to. In to-days electronic, no touch environment as the inter-net where you are are just a digital encoding with a password (why pass words are so precious) and no physical recognition of a third party actually makes the system less safe.
As an example the UK Government have brought in a new Job Seekers Allowance (unemployment benefit) signing system which uses a stylus on a pressure pad, which measures and compares your original sample signatures (6), in terms of letter formation, pressures through the signing process, and just to be totally absurd the angle at which you hold and apply the stylus to the screen ! I suppose next they will want to take a blood or DNA test each time I "sign on".:-)
So in today, job titles are largely meaningless and although for many their job title means all to them.
Too often titles mean nothing. For those seeking to validate themselves through titles, it could seem something, but that doesn't mean the organization is gaining someone more capable. I once turned down a "promotion" because it was only a title and had no more money, just extra duties. I believe in everyone doing the best they can to impact and grow the company, and titles just get in the way. Teamwork is not a hierarchy, it is everyone working equally for the same goal.
This requires a review of positions within the department(s) and how these titles will benefit the whole of the company. If there is no promotional benefits to be gained, the company will have to consider the effects of these titles in the long run. The titles sought after places the employee(s) in a position to seek other job opportunities. Both parties are and should be looking out for themselves. Just my thoughts...
Ms Julia, there are 2 issues here. One is Job Titles and the other a flat Organisation. Job titles no longer motivate people to have loyalty and recognize growth. This era has gone. We are now talking about employee disengagement and its challenges that are facing the Employer. Having said this, its a complete turn around for the employer who has to engage with his employees to retain them. So an enabling environment, recognition and visibility has to be given to the employee. This attitude should pervade each and every one in the Company , irrespective of the Organisation being flat or have a hierarchy. FLORENCE MACDONALD
Sounds to me like you have employees who are already looking for their next job. My view on titles is they have to show me the ability to perform at that level for a period of time. In other words the title is earned not given out.
Sometimes we forget that as managers and business owners our responsibility to elevate people for their own future success. That future success may or may not be with your own organization. A descriptive title not just as Director but "guru in charge of keeping things working" may be what they are looking for (corollary is Direct of Keeping Things Working). So to tag their title with Communications even though they (like you) wear many hats allows them to market themselves to their primary future interest.
I think this is ok up to the point that everybody wants a "Communication" title. As long as that can be worked out and the titles don't diminish the leadership structure you need, then I don't see any harm.
I've seen several companies who uses several similar designations to keep their employees happy but keeping the organization flat as much. I've seen companies having 10 Vice presidents, in a work force of 30..the only thing separating them is the work they do....they have VP-Systems, VP-Production, VP-Multimedia etc. Now this may look quite atrocious, specially in a relatively small workforce.
But the top management may feel this to be a strategy to keep the employees happy as they consider them as equals and performs the work smoothly. Since all the VPs along with all other 20 staffs are directly reporting to the CEO, we can call this as a flat organization where the CEO calls the shots while everyone is actually a junior or senior employee.The core employees like the VPs are given higher designation to keep their loyalty to the company and continue the good work.
Hi Julia ~
It seems to me you have the best of both worlds: employees asking for recognition that is easy to provide, will encourage loyalty ~ and costs the company nothing! Since no one is requesting a corresponding raise to match the elevated title, why not allow them to choose whatever titles they wish, within reason? (Obviously a staff member can't call herself CEO, especially since you already have one).
As others here also point out, titles themselves are somewhat anachronistic. Yet if this is all it takes to keep people happy and engaged, I say do it.
In my day the differences were staff vs line responsibilities ---Staff function were primarily based upon tasks: i.e. difficult technical issues , issues surrounding emotional intelligence, staff is heavy with projects and tasks---Line is the people reporting aspect of process and task....Hiring, terminating outing together teams etc...
Let everybody use whatever title they would like. All titles do is look good on a resume. Everybody needs to know their responsibilities and duties.
Job titles are so yesteryear and are mostly overrated. What did you do and achieve in the given role. This holds the more weight, as anyone can call them self anything and who is going to cross check otherwise? To be fair they are deserving of the correct title in fitting with your organisation. Outside that you are just fulfilling a personal high in them which doesn't last too long.
Harking back to my "salad" years, we had dual career paths - technical vs. management. Requiring significantly contributing technical staff to assume administrative responsibilities will, more than likely, result in an early exit.