What would you prefer a small increase in salary or a grander sounding job title? Would you be surprised to learn that in a survey the majority preferred the latter. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when we take into account that work is so significant in determining some ones status and self worth. Isn’t that why when we are introduced to someone new at a social function we quickly establish what they do for a living. An impressive job title makes some one sound and feel important.
Even if the actual work is neither impressive or important. This may explain why organisational changes are frequently sold to managers as involving a grand sounding new job title. Seduced by this rise in status the individual accepts that this apparent promotion is not accompanied by a pay rise.
The first time this happened to me I was a “Head of “ and following restructuring I was an Assistant Director. The second occasion was more dramatic and an illustration of job title inflation. Over night all senior managers moved up in the job title status stakes. Assistant Directors became Directors and Directors became Executive Directors. This change was to reflect a greater emphasis on the strategic nature of the role of senior management. But as the same people we doing the same job it seemed merely symbolic. However I did hear a rumour that the chief executive successful argued for a not insignificant pay rise as he was now responsible for a team of Executive Directors!
As in so many corporate trends the US seems to have been the source of job title inflation. I have often been puzzled and confused by the proliferation of Chief Executives in US companies. They are referred to as CEO’s ,chief executive offices but report to Senior executives.
Job title inflation means doing away with the prefix ,”assistant” and putting Director or Executive into a job title to make it sound higher status, until you realise almost all managers in the organisation have “Director” or “ Executive “ in their job title. The title becomes some what devalued when it is so common.
Whist grandiose job titles don’t fool recruiters, plenty of recruiters think a recruitment strategy based on more impressive job titles rather than higher salaries will work. Of course it could just be that the savvy candidate waits till they are offered the post and then asks for a salary more in keeping with the job title.