The tyranny of the job title

Imagine that today is your first day in a new job. You know your areas of work and responsibilities, but nobody has told you what your job title is. When you get to the office you realize that no one has a job title, there are only desks, computers and people working. Stop reading for a moment and think about it, how could that work? Can you imagine how different the professional relationship with your workmates would be? Would it be efficient?

I wonder why there are job titles? I would say, to create competition and to avoid collaboration. In a high competitive business environment such as London, a slightly different job title may entail a 5,000 pound difference in salary. It drives many professionals to change jobs often, to increase their value or to improve their career.

job_description_blogThis means that the job title is no longer a category but a reward, and every reward generates a competition but, what if there were no job titles at work? I think that we would delete a huge obstacle for collaboration. Language creates reality. Therefore, when you say your job title aloud, you are stressing the difference between you and your workmates, by area of expertise or category, and you are framing what can be expected from you.

I have some experience working with different people across the same organization. One of the usual answers I get when I suggest inviting workers from junior levels is that they don’t have enough experience, strategic approach or knowledge to attend that meeting. Maybe they’re right, but they hired these junior workers because of their general capabilities, being two of these capabilities is learning and development.

It is obvious that most jobs require specific knowledge and skills, but companies need to keep the information channels open, and encourage collaboration to take advantage of collective intelligence. They also need to maintain the company updated and flexible to face uncertainty, remove the barriers to get people to be in touch, to share their knowledge and to talk to each other in confidence.

Job titles are the way to perpetuate hierarchy in the organization, and an unnatural way of relating, regardless how long it has been in the business organizational structure.

Imagine for a moment that you could discover the person behind your workmate before someone tells you how you have to relate to each other, it would be really great!

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