How Does “Your Serene Highness” Sound?
Many articles have appeared recently about making your employees feel valued and retaining the good ones who might be tempted move on when the recession ends. Sarah E. Needleman’s Wall Street Journal article, “Business Owners Try to Motivate Employees” takes a look at these issues. One of the business owners interviewed recognized that after layoffs, increased workloads, no raises, etc. her employees “are stressed out and in need of extra attention.”Nice of her to notice; many bosses don’t get it. Another boss gave her employees shiny new titles.
Often companies will dole out titles in lieu of raises. But why would that appease us? From a psych perspective, my thought is that we are hot-wired to give too much weight and status to a job title. We are also programmed to look at co-workers in a hierarchical system. The VP is always more important than the admin. assistant. (My personal opinion is that an excellent admin. is worth about six VPs.)
When I worked in advertising for a paint company, my title was “Advertising Assistant.” At review time, my boss told me that I’d get a minuscule raise. I told him I understood, but that I wanted a new title, “Assistant Advertising Director” (it was a two-person dept, – he was the director). Being a copywriter, I knew the value of getting the word “director” on a future resume.
Admittedly, the title thing can get ridiculous. Who hasn’t worked for those imperious types who, if they could get away with it, would have you call them “Your Majesty?” And if you get too liberal with the borderline-fictitious job titles, the employees see through it and that currency ceases to have value. Or the titles get really weird. In my husband’s company, there is a SME designation or “Subject Matter Expert.” Naturally, everyone calls them “smees,” which for me conjures up that creepy Schmegel (Gollum) character from “Lord of the Rings.”
What are some of the goofiest titles you’ve heard?
This is a post by Nancy LaFever. You can read more from her at the Centre for Emotional Wellbeing blog.