True value in a job title

Over the years of my working career, I have had the opportunity and fortune to work my way and rise through the ranks at some of the most innovative and creative companies. I have held numerous role where my responsibilities are in line with the job title. There are also times where the job title does not match the work and responsibilities prescribed to me by my employers – it far exceeded the title given to me.

Therefore, it is strange when I observe a distinct trend recently in companies who give a fluffier title to their employees – making managers into head of a department with no staff reporting to or mass promoting staff with a brand new job title across the board where Head of a department is now Senior Director / Senior VP of the same department. What true value did these employees do to deserve the new title? Often times, they are merely doing the same work. However, it is a way for some companies to retain staff without providing an equitable value in monetary terms. It’s almost like a human resource version of a backdoor policy.

Many years back when I was hiring manager, I was amazed when an AVP from a well known bank applied for a senior executive post. I asked my HR team why would someone of this position be downgrading to a lesser job title? They told me blank faced that “every staff is an AVP in that bank. It’s their starting grade for all back end administrative staff”. Out of curiosity, I called that person to an interview and had my manager asked some really tough questions and true enough, while he had an AVP title at the bank, the work he had done was that of a senior executive and junior manager!

Therefore, it is not surprising to note that a Senior Manager in Apple would be required to lead a team of 12 or more with a preferred educational level of Masters is equivalent to a Director or more in most companies. Of course, in all fairness, the VPs in Apple are treated with near god-like status in the company.

Most importantly, these over inflated job title and promotions often damage the company and cause greater attrition rate as some departments that do not get this mass promotion treatment would be left bitter and upset, seeking other opportunities.

The true value in a job title is not what it says on the name card but what contributions the person behind the role brings to the company at the end of the day.