Don’t Insult Your Employees with Trendy Job Titles

Matt| June 8, 2015| Managers

Industry forums, blogs and websites might like to tout edgy-sounding positions like “Growth Hacker” or “Copy Ninja,” but these trendy job titles aren’t helping your business and they definitely aren’t helping your employees, who might even be insulted by such a title.

The latest round of repurposing old job titles came out of the tech startup industry, where innovation and a tongue-in-cheek sensibility are de rigueur. However, if you’re in the manufacturing or healthcare industries – for example – whimsical job titles can undercut the credibility of your staff and organization. In addition, they can also be confusing to clients or partners outside the business.

“The classic is that no one is a ‘salesman’ any more — instead you have ‘account managers,’” management consultant Lisa Merriam recently told Fortune. These new job titles appear to be trendy, Merriam added, and in a decade – still labeling someone a Brand Defender could look out of touch.

Some employees might actually embrace the idea of a fashionable new job title. However, the title can inflict damage on their future prospects. Many companies use automated filters to scan resumes for key words like ‘manager’ or ‘executive’. These filters typically aren’t set up to scan for titles with the word ‘Ninja’ or ‘Hacker’ in it.

If your company has its sights set on repurposing old job titles, it should try to do it in way that is descriptive and authoritative, according to Andrew Royce, CEO of Royce Leather. Royce recently swapped out titles like customer service manager or marketing director for titles like Chief Customer Officer and Chief Marketing Officer.

“Business is built on empowering workers and conveying power to others,” he told Fortune. “Euphemisms allow my company to convey a greater influence and give my employees greater confidence that their jobs are much more important than what would appear on the surface.”

Eliminating Titles Altogether

While some companies are repurposing old job titles, others are toying with the idea of eliminating job titles altogether – effectively flattening the structure of the organization.

According to the theory behind this trend, traditional business hierarchies fuel office politics and lead to situations where energy is wasted trying to resolve conflicts. Without a boss to pander to or act as office sheriff, workers will be incentivized to work well with everyone and resolve conflicts amongst themselves.

Although this may sound like a sort of office utopia, a recent Harvard Business Review article by management expert Harrison Monarth warned that the human brain clings to the idea of a hierarchy, and if a business structure isn’t definitively setup – one will emerge. That ad hoc structure could be less efficient than a traditional model, Monarth argued.

The best-selling business author went on to say that a titles-free business could have some benefits, but some internal structure is needed to establish order in the minds of employees.

What might be a trendy change in the workplace could have positive effects in the short-term. Changing the foundation of office dynamics is very difficult and might not be worth the challenge. Keeping traditional job titles and office structure still allows management to make their employees feel worthwhile, and in the long run could be a better fit for the company instead of a quick fix.

Long Island Temps is a local company that has an intimate knowledge of the Long Island job market and can serve as a trusted business partner in strengthening your internal staffing structure. Simply contact us and we will get started on charting your course.