What’s in a job title?

I’ve just opened an electronic memo from my personal assistant, in which she proposes being re-titled as an “executive assistant”. What’s she plotting?

What’s in a job title?

I’ve just opened an electronic memo from my personal assistant, in which she proposes being re-titled as an “executive assistant”.

As far as I can tell, entrepreneurs use job titles differently to large corporates. Entrepreneurs seem to use job titles to demonstrate their quirky, individualistic sense of humour. Hence the CEO of a coffee chain will describe him or herself as Chief Barista, the CEO of a recruiting firm as Chief Headhunter and the CEO of a fresh juice chain as the Chief Pulping Officer, and so on.

In the corporate world we use job titles help our staff understand their position in a rigid pecking order.

Re-titling is the first stage of a tried and true technique, which works like this:

Step 1: Request a more impressive job-title in lieu of the salary increase or bonus which has just been refused.

Step 2: Wait for a restructuring that will have you reporting to a new superior. This should take about six months.

Step 3: Miss a deadline. Now, box clever – make sure it’s something that will attract attention, but nothing too important.

Step 4: Explain that you missed the deadline due to a lack of resources, provide a copy of a (fabricated) memo to your previous superior in which you identified that a lack of resources may lead to a missed deadline, and point out that compared to others with the same role (as described by job title), you are significantly under-resourced.

Repeat step 4 if necessary, missing increasingly important deadlines until your superior provides you with an assistant.

Request a meeting to discuss your salary. Point out that compared to others with the same title and responsibilities (ie, management of the additional staff members) you are underpaid, and request “alignment”.

If possible, refer to the overall importance of salary alignment in such a way as to prompt your superior towards the idea that increasing your salary will help justify an increase in their own.

So I understand what my PA is up to. The more important question is: why? It may be that her PA network (the very best source of information in any corporate) has informed her of a pending restructure – of which advance notice would be very handy.

I think the best response is this: two glasses of wine over lunch with my PA to find out if she’s heard anything about a restructure. Once I know what she knows, I’ll explain that a re-titling might not be a good idea because I’ve heard about a possible restructure that will cull the executive assistant roles … and I’d hate to lose her.

That will give me time to check her expense claims and timesheets until I find grounds for dismissal. There’s nothing more dangerous than an ambitious PA, so it’s time for her to go.

To read more Mr Banker blogs, click here.



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