Inflated Job Titles Considered Dangerous

Lengthy and vacuous job titles are increasingly common in many organisations. It’s not uncommon to see ‘User experience practice leader’, ‘Technical data specialist’, ‘Revenue protection officer’, ‘PBT supplier’, ‘Guide planner’, ‘Authorising supplier manager’, or ‘Integrating management expert’. They probably make sense to people in that organisation, but to everyone else they seem like goobledygook.

(Note: I made most of those up - only one of those titles is real - guess which? However, they all use widespread vocabulary, so hopefully they seem familiar.)

Specialisation is good. However, these job titles don’t describe what people do, or even what they are supposed to do. They are vague, and hence they’re dangerous, because they obfsucate the intended structure of their organisation. One of the key tasks for a business is to continually identify mismatches between what people are supposed to be doing, are actually doing, and what needs to be done. This is critical to remain efficient. However, it’s hard when everyone sounds important, and key to the organisation (because, let’s face it, some probably aren’t). So organisations that are self-indulgent with their job titles (perhaps as a retention technique?) aren’t doing themselves any favours strategically.

Please let’s try to move to a world where we can tell what each other does.