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.
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.
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
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.
Paul Hebert is Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group Inc, writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.