If You Think Job Titles Don’t Matter… Yours Should Be “HR Putz”

Dawn Burke Career Paths, Culture, Dawn Hrdlica, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR (& Life!) Advice

I’m falling on my sword here…

I got some new business cards. They are cool, funky, have my twitter feed name and all that jazz. And under my long crazy name sits my title, VP of People.

Merry Christmas to me! It’s like, I am Ralphie and I just got my Red Ryder.

Businesscard Then the shame hit me. The guilt hit me. Literally. I’m not supposed to care what others think of me especially with something as inane as a simple title. And all the conversations I had with HR pros over the years came flooding back…

  • “Around here, we don’t care about titles”
  • “It’s about the job not the title”
  • “I’m not the type who really thinks about what I’m called, as long as I’m fulfilled and can pay my mortgage”

Funny, as I thought about these conversations, most were driven by HR Putzs who were dealing with their own issues about their rank on the corp food chain. So I surrendered and admitted…

I have an ego.

As an HR pro I’m not supposed to have one. I know, I know. Why? You see, HR pros are givers, not takers. We are humble servants to the company. We are humble servants to our employees. We float over a sea of despair throughout our organizations graciously tending to our flock. We are the gatekeepers to our payroll records, personnel files, and benefits records. Just as God is the keeper of the “Book of Life” in the Jewish faith… HR pros are there to open and close that book with our employees; petitioning for fairness in pay, calmly positioning for choices that also will not damage our company. But unlike God, always, always as a third party. And never, never, NEVER using our own personal experiences, desires, dreams or goals to influence our decisions. Blasphemy.

  • To actually be the example of a “top end” salary in the organization… blasphemy to our humble nature.
  • To walk proudly throughout the halls as the example of “15-years hard work does pay off”…blasphemy to our objectivity
  • To stand center stage with your team of “non-widget” makers and show the widget maker’s how it’s done… blasphemy to the nature of the world.

So here’s the deal. HR pros… just quit being Putzs. In the grand scheme of life we all live under “badges” we display proudly (or not so proudly on our sleeves). Quit feeling guilty about your own success. You, more than anyone, know that your employees, your bosses, your customers are all motivated by accomplishment, and titles are a badge that shows that.

The rub… the title needs to be a reflection of reality. In all fairness, those who hate titles probably worked in a corporate fantasy world where underachievers were titled VP/ King/ Czar of All Things. And one of the only reasons I can proudly wear my VP badge is the same reason I proudly wore my “HR admin assistant” badge years ago. They were honest reflections of my role. But perhaps that is just my ego talking…

Dawn Burke

Dawn Burke, founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.