‘We don’t have job titles around here’, a more recent manager Matt droned. FFS. I took a sneaky look around…for leprechauns.
Managers who tell employees this, are A. affecting power play, or B. away with magical dancing green Irish pixies.
When a male manager tells a female employee that job titles are not an organisational imperative for her; his passive-aggressive word choice states this:
I tell you what to do because the only job title around here that matters is the one with ‘manager’ in it – are you tacitly seeing the point of difference?
Bullshit aside, studies show one’s job title can affect anything from stress levels to identity.
In 2014, a Pearl Meyer & Partner ‘job titling practices’ study learned 80% of companies use ‘job titles to reflect hierarchy’ and over 92% use titles to define roles.
According to WinterWyman recruitment consultant Doug Schade, and as reported by Forbes magazine, titles are valuable because employees get job envy aspiring to their colleagues’ positions.
‘Sometimes, job titles can mean more than a salary increase or other monetary gain, and indicate the level of responsibility from the top down,’ Doug said.
For us professionals, the role we choose including title and duties, is extremely important. For me, on personal and professional levels – having ‘my job’ in writing, creates boundaries.
Also, it’s one of the few labels I’m willing to accept from anyone; which begs the question – what labels do you assign yourself?
For me, I’m a journalist. Always was, always will be. And this is despite a myriad of industry roles.
As a professional communicator over two decades, I’ve skillsets in various sub-categories like change, PR, journalism, audio-visual multimedia – I mean, the overriding premise is, ‘to communicate’.
Short story: once worked with a colleague-in-change Tim who constantly insisted that communication was a category of change management. When old matie would not shut up, I assert impracticalities of argument.
If one can gain change certification in 2 days, as contrasted by 3-year commitment to communication qualification, then argument null and void.
Did that shut him up? No. He was NPD, albeit vulnerable – they don’t know how to lose.
In any case, the words you use to describe your profession are revealing.
For example, I’ve been titled a specialist and consultant by my employer. But it would defeat my purpose, to tell this to strangers. I want people to relate to me. Not roll their eyes.
Telling people that you are a consultant or an expert is a power play opportunity. If they aren’t onto you, the polite person is forced to ask ‘what you consult in’, at which point, you get to tell them ‘just how great you are in your field’.
The purpose I have in telling folks that I’m a journalist is, ‘I’m a storyteller so I like to collect stories – could you please share your story with me?’
And that point, it’s true – I am interested in you. Because, unfortunately, I can only continue if the relationship is equal; ie. you prove interesting.
Why? Interesting people are genuinely interested people. You cannot be interesting, if you are not interested in people.
And people know. Sure, smart is smart – but it doesn’t take high entity to know when someone is not listening.
I find it goes directly to active listening. Is the person responding to you with probing questions?
Because anyone can ask and question before moving on to meet their own psychological needs. And sometimes that’s ok, because I actually do care to help you if you’re not NPD.
But, if the disinterested party is toxic, I clock off mentally. I’ve been known to actually cut people off so I can hit-the-road literally. Why wouldn’t I? I’m being used.
Of course, sometimes you’re stuck having to deal with these invariably weak and insipid types.
Like former colleague, Ed who appointed himself my manager, and subsequently, went about attempting workplace subjugation through power play.
It started early on-the-job, but the following after-hours text exchange from day 2 highlights problems that preceded and ensued.
Ed: You left your USB stick in your computer, so I put it away, so that you wouldn’t be fined by office security
Me: Goodo (ie. I’m annoyed that you’re seeking A. an apology and B. a thank you by way of misdirection – so in fact, not good at all)
Early the next day, as we passed in the corridor, Ed leveraged jungle law as office furniture and pressed for superb dead-end power play.
Ed: Did you get that USB?
Ed: Next time, just think (takes index finger to temple, and taps it against the side of head a few times)
However, Ed’s implicational converse theory is a formal fallacy; that is, ‘you are dumb, and I am smart, and vice versa with evidence ala USB’, and it demonstrates the overriding fact.
That a job description, including title and duties that wannabe-managers don’t think we need, is a professional policy of personal paramount.
In actuality, the document allows us, the workplace marginalised, to establish boundaries with the encroaching likes of-the-Matts and the-Eds of-the-workplace-world.
So. Now I’m reverting to type including ‘journalist’ – I’ll be needing a faux title for enemy missions. What, ‘consultant’ you reckon?