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Civility in job titles

Ever think an organization or company is top-heavy? What does that mean? Generally too many managers, too many executives. Too heavy at the top for the base below.

Several years ago I edited a document about my department. Being a journalist concerned with accuracy, I checked titles. And ended up in several heated debates. I didn’t realize then that it was fairly common to use titles other than those assigned by the human resources office. I was told it’s a common practice in private companies. I see it more and more at Iowa State. People use creative titles or bump themselves up to manager or director. It’s even done in the announcements for jobs.

Public perception
If you’re an Iowa citizen and correspond with Iowa State staff, are you impressed that an email was sent by a manager? Or do you begin to wonder how many managers Iowa State has and wonder if the organization is top-heavy?

If you are reading about a company or organization, do you check how many executives are listed? What do you think when you find a person in an organizational chart with one title and that person uses a different title in correspondence?

In the editing of the document two years ago, one person truly believed her title was manager and was surprised when I pointed out it wasn’t. The job posting she had filled had used both the point-counted title of coordinator and the ‘working’ title of manager. Conversely, anther person was offended that he was listed as a manager. He said his title was coordinator and I’d better use that title.

What’s the civility angle in this?
Honesty, ethics, self-discipline, humility? Others?
I’ve adhered to writing style guides and checked facts too long to label myself anything other than my point-counted job title. My work and attitude count for far more than a job title.

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 27, 2007
Princess Paysalot and Other Creative Job Titles
http://blogs.wsj.com/independentstreet/2007/12/27/princess-paysalot-and-other-creative-job-titles/

You can read for a really long time and be wildly entertained if you check the links and comments from this April 4, 2007 post on Marketing Profs Daily Fix: Job Titles 2.0, http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2007/04/im_a_huge_fan_of.html

Comments

Hey Lynette -- Thanks for picking up that post from a year ago... glad you still get a chuckle. : )

How you name or describe a position might depend as much on whether you're trying to entice interest or elicit applications as to whether you want to impress others. See advice from a company that aspires " ... to be the leading supplier of Human Resource Services to the Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources, and Biotechnology industry." See a newsletter article about online job posting on that Web site http://snipr.com/28v90