Feel like the King of France? Make it your title

Titles. What are they? What do they mean? And does anyone even read the small print written below your name on your business card?

Well, we’d like to think most people do. But I wonder how many get a clear understanding of someone’s job just from a title.

In a lot of instances, of course, we get an accurate feel for what someone’s job entails – it’s quite obvious what a product marketing manager does, for example. But as journalists, we are constantly dealing with people’s names and titles in various features and news stories, and I’ve got to tell you titles are becoming increasingly absurd.

Here are some examples. These are not made up. They are actual titles the ComputerWorld Canada editorial staff have come across while conducting interviews with people within this industry: Goddess, Prophet, Philosopher, Leader, Guru, Evangelist, and my personal favourites, King of France and Evil ____ (fill in the blank with your name).

Silly? At first I thought so – and I still do to some extent — but then I realized this is an excellent way to build morale among employees.

Information technology is a fast-paced, high-stress industry. Allowing employees to have such titles may blow off a little of that daily steam. Although I caution against using such titles as King of France and Goddess outside the office (if you understand what these people do please let me know because I don’t have a clue), it can’t hurt to use them within the office.

ComputerWorld Canada’s editorial staff took a stab at this exercise and came up with the following: Queen of the Forest, Philosopher Queen, Super Model Extraordinare, and Token Male. I admit these are a little out there – okay, too out there to use outside the confines of our walls — but we had some fun.

As an added bonus, absurd titles are ones which are not going to be easily forgotten.

This was brought home to me the other day, when one of the writers came into the office and the first thing on his mind was the crazy title of someone he had just interviewed. It is very rare for a writer to run around telling all the others who he or she just interviewed if the person’s title was vice-president of marketing, CEO or product manager. We hear these day in and day out. But a title such as Goddess is going to stick your mind. Again, it may not be suitable to use such a descriptor outside the office, whereas Evangelist or Leader is a little more acceptable. But you get my point.

So I say, let employees pick their titles and have some fun with them. Whether you, as a manger, decide to let them use them outside the office, well that’s up to you.

So sit back and think about a title you’d like to have. I’m off to see about changing my business cards – I’m thinking Karen, Queen of the Hill.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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