Job Titles That Say What They Mean

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Job titles have achieved heights of ridiculousness never before reached. Each company in an effort to “outcool” the next company have created job descriptions that have more value as talking points in an interview with Forbes than they do to the oth

er employees in the company – or – to the most important person – the customer of that company.

Chief Strategist? Uh… what is that? Do you sit around all day and then go to a meeting and say “I see blue.” Or maybe you’re the “Director of Storytelling,” or – Director of Chaos, Chief Sparkle Officer, MatchMaker (sales job), Ambassador of Prosperity. All titles I was able to pull from the interwebs in a simple google search.

I remember seeing this for the first time when I read the book “Orbiting The Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie where he chose his own title – Corporate Paradox. I thought it was cool then. But I was younger and dumber. In his defense – he had little customer contact that I could see from the book. But regardless – while it might be cool to talk about these titles at some hipster bar in the lower east side of New York City – it does nothing to help the company or help its customers.

I’ve got an idea – how about a title that actually helps the customer understand what’s going on? And – heaven forbid – actually describes the job the person really, really does.

The Navigator

I ran into this job title at UNC Chapel Hill a month or so ago. I was checking on different hospitals for a procedure and this hospital was recommended. Our initial meeting at the hospital was with a woman named, Jane. She explained that she was a Navigator.

Our Navigator.

The hospital uses a “multidisciplinary” structure where depending on your situation you could have 2, 3, or 5 or more “disciplines” assigned to you. Her jo

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b was to help us (and them internally) Navigate through the process. She would book appointments with the appropriate Doctors. She would work with us to determine who we needed to see, how to pay for this (you knew that was in the mix somewhere right) how to follow up and if we had questions she was the ONE person we could call and she would get the answer.

Her job was to navigate the hospital red-tape, processes and procedures on OUR behalf.

She was, and is, a Navigator.

While I know I just made fun of made up titles that mean nothing – this title, while a bit non-normal, means everything to anyone associated with the hospital. From a consumer point of view it meant I had someone who would guide me to where I needed to be – both physically in the hospital and from a process and procedure standpoint. She had my back. Her title communicated that she really worked for me.

I liked that a lot.

Internally, the other employees knew her job was to be my advocate. They knew she was the direct line to the customer and someone to pay attention to.

Where Can You Create Better Titles?

Think about your own business. I’m betting there is someone there whose job it is to be the one single point of contact for a customer – maybe an Account Manager – should that person be called a “Navigator?” Doesn’t that communicate a different message? In one case the person is responsible for an “account” – in the other case they are responsible for making sure the customer can connect and communicate with the right people in the company to solve their problem.

Navigator – so simple. Yet so profound.

Drop the Chief Cookies and Cream titles and spend some time finding that perfect word or two that describes what that person does for your customer. Consider it a job description in one or two words.

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FOT Background Check

Paul Hebert
Paul Hebert is the Vice President of Solution Design at Symbolist. Paul’s mission is to humanize the business relationships needed to drive greater employee, channel and customer loyalty. His is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Paul is a recognized authority on incentives and performance motivation. Want to know what’s going to motivate your people to perform at their best and impact the bottom line? Want to know whether your service award program really means anything at all? And are there psychological principles that drive your employees’ behavior? Paul’s your guy… unless you fervently bow down to Maslow.

2 Comments

  1. Bruce Kestelman says:

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve worked in health care for over 30 years and some of that work focused on creating and sustatining a patient-centered culture/experience. As I started to read your post I thought this would be a good one to share with some of my former colleagues. They too use the navigator role and I think would be pleased knowing that you found it a helpful role.

    As I read further and then went back and clicked on procedure, I learned that this blog post was not simply a conceptual post; it was something very real and personal. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve developed the PeeStrong site to share your experiences along the way.

    I’m more familiar with the journey that you’re on than I care to remember. While we want to be in control I think early on we realize that we need to get on the bus or train (whatever analogy we use) and while we can be active in our care and treatment, we need to put ourselves in the hands of others, others who we hopefully trust and believe are there for us and our family.

    All the best to you on your journey and remember that you’re bigger and stronger even when you’re getting your butt kicked somewhere along the way.

    Take care and remember it’s still OK for big strong guys to hug a teddy bear.

    Bruce

    • PaulHebert says:

      Thanks Bruce – appreciate the thoughts. The core thing I took away from it was the title reflected what this person was going to do for ME – not what they did for the organization. That was the aha moment. How often we position people in an organization around what they contribute to the employer instead of the client. How would titles change if we used that as the description – “what do you do for our clients?”

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