What’s in a name?

I heard on the radio earlier this afternoon there is an increasing trend towards… er… different job titles.

Why?  What’s wrong with Sales Rep or Mortgage Advisor or even Factory Operative for that matter?

I can remember when I worked in corporate world having a meeting with 3 people who were running their own business… payroll services I seem to remember.  What I actually remember, though, was the job titles on their business cards.

The boss of the business called himself, wait for it:

Captain of Fun and Pooh.

You heard me correctly.  Captain of Fun and Pooh.

When I asked him why the hell he had that as his job title he told me that they liked having fun (I kind of got that) and the Pooh bit was all about the fact they liked investing (time and effort, not money) into their clients.  The Pooh reference was to do with honey pots and sharing.

On the radio this afternoon, the examples given were Word Jockey for Copywriter and Sales Rep was changed to Dream Maker.

But I ask you again.  Why?

There’s a scene in the sitcom The Office where the office dork Gareth says ‘I’m the Assistant Regional Manager’ (David Brent would usually correct him at this point, saying ‘Assistant to the Regional Manager’).  Tim responded by saying ‘It’s a makey up title… something they gave you so you do more for no more money.’

And the makey up job titles are just the same.  I think the businesses in question are simply giving their people ‘different’ titles to make them feel better about working at a job that isn’t very rewarding and for a business that doesn’t value them very much.

Of course, I might be wrong about that but, I have to say I don’t think so.  Let’s go back to our Captain of Fun and Pooh.  The slightly whacky job title was trying to paper over the fact that they weren’t very much fun and didn’t really invest in their clients.  In fact, it was all surface froth trying to disguise a very ordinary product in a way that was designed to pull the wool over their clients’ eyes.

I didn’t buy from them… the product wasn’t up to scratch and I found the stupidness of the job titles off putting.

So, I would say, don’t invest your time in making up stupid names; tell it like it is and spend time and effort on staff development, benefits and job enrichment.

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