Job titles are powerful. Only 1-3 words long, they attempt to define who we are, what we do and how we are remembered by others.
At work, our title is written on our offices, name tags and business cards.
In personal life, we get the (in)famous question “What do you do?” often even asked before our name.
Of course, there is more to life than work.
But even at work a job title does not necessarily do justice to the whole scope of our tasks and responsibilities. Industry requirements and companies reinvent themselves throughout time.
Many jobs cannot be singled down to a one-page job description anymore and touch multiple fields of expertise.
More and more, we are seeing that companies are coming up with creative job titles that attempt to live up to their employees’ talents.
For example, the person responsible for predicting trends at AOL takes on the role of “Digital Prophet” and the receptionist at the front desk of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt becomes known as the “Director of First Impressions.”
However, does a title change really alter long-standing perceptions about classical jobs? For example, does it change how a receptionist is viewed if they are called the “Leader of the Front” versus just being called “the receptionist?”
After doing some research, is seems that creative job titles do indeed change our perception of a person’s importance and role in that company.
General first impressions
In the past, titles like ‘director’ or ‘manager’ have been primarily used for roles in which people are on the top of the hierarchical structure of an organization.
However, do we not all have areas in which we have the main ownership of a task or function? In other words, do we not all manage something?
What job title does your company give you and your fellow FDHs at work?
One of our group members pointed out:
Companies using creative job titles play around with these “VIP” add-ons and disrupts the formal organization structure. A CEO does not necessary need a director’s title anymore, while nobody could own the title of “Director of First Impressions” better than the personnel sitting at the front desk.
While job titles used to be a somewhat helpful indicator to understanding the status of an employee, that’s no longer the case.
The best way to deal with this new “way of the world” is to follow the golden rule: treat everybody the way you would like to be treated (no matter if they are the receptionist or CEO).
Engaging outsiders and changing perspectives
A creative job title sparks curiosity in people. It’s natural to want to learn more about a person with the title of “Director of Smiles” over the standard “Customer Service Representative” moniker, for example.
Therefore, an interesting title can be a conversion starter.
By using a title that describes more about the role’s responsibilities —and less about the role itself— organizations can break old stigmas surrounding fields and even challenge perceptions about job groups we have no experience in directly.
A visitor welcomed by a front desk officer whose name tag says ‘Hospitality Lead’, might remember that uncommon title.
Who knows, maybe the visitor will have a little aha-moment and understands that importance of hospitality that is given to that role moving forward and treat all front desk officers with the same kind of enthusiasm.
Using titles to represent your brand
A replacement of classical job titles affects office dynamics. What it comes down to is that a change of job titles is also a change in the company language.
This new vocabulary can be a strategy to raise awareness about jobs within the company. It can also be used to promote a new sense of appreciation regarding everyone’s responsibilities and talents.
The types of titles your company offers - or doesn’t offer - can tell you a lot about the vibe and culture of the company itself. Obviously, the more traditional the title the more traditional the organization will be.
Companies can therefore use creative titles to change their brand/company perception amongst their employees and to those interacting with the company outside of the organization itself.
A creative title improves creativity
If you were going to apply for a receptionist position at a new company, which would you rather be called: the “Front Desk Vibe Coordinator” or the “Secretary”?
Like most people, you might be inclined to go for the first title, as it conveys a sense of importance and uniqueness that the other does not.
A cool title makes us feel more energized, motivated and confident about our role within a company.
Enjoying a cup of tea with my Front Desk Hero mug
It’s definitely hard to feel as stressed about your position when you’re referred to as the ‘Happiness Coordinator’ instead of the HR person at the company.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review referred to a study that looked at the psychological benefits to retitling and cites:
“Employees described how their new and improved titles made their jobs more meaningful and helped them cope with the emotional challenges.”