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Do All Titles Matter?

September 8, 2010
by Tim Tolan
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Focusing on the job, not the title

Too many people get hung up titles. I don’t get it. What will people say? It’s like some social hang-up and without the right title you just can’t hang with others that have a job title that sounds more important. Who cares?

In the end while title matters in some regards to be able to either face the market (senior level executives) or the employee base to accentuate your role as a manager or a leader – for many roles it’s not relevant. I don’t advocate taking a step back and that’s not what I’m saying here. So many candidates I speak to want to start the conversation by asking about the title. Forget the salary and bonus just hit them with a title wave–make them feel overly important and they are usually on board.

Here’s the deal. In today’s market, companies need leaders more than ever. The hierarchy (food chain) regarding titles in most organizations-have likely been set in stone long ago. To ask a company to change your title to artificially make you feel important to others or to prop up your ego never works out. And, it does not matter. Go make something happen. Do your job, move the needle and make an impact at whatever you do and your rewards will always be there.

Who knows – maybe your title will change too

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Comments

Gwen, I am offended by your title. How sexist! I really think you need to talk to your CEO over there and get it changed to "Healthcare IT Central PerOffspring." I understand that your CEO is a great guy :)

Tim,
Once again, a lovely post that helps us all benefit from what you are seeing. I try to do the same, but not with the consistency that you bring.

I strongly agree with the spirit of your recommendations, and your caveats.

The smartest people I meet, after hearing anyone's title and certainly mine (VP/CMO), ask what I actually do. It's appropriate, direct and necessary these days to have the right expectations. This is for exactly the reasons you elaborated. Titles are inadequate proxies for role responsibilities, reporting situation, and, all importantly, capabilities and talent.  That matters more than title.

Tim,

Great point. I completely agree with your call to action to do the job, move the needle and make an impact.

I don't know about you, but I've noticed more obsessing over titles from colleagues in recent years, and it's got me to thinking - I wonder if the email signature file is to blame? Pre-email, the only place you'd see a title was on a business card, at the end of a formal letter, and maybe on a desk name plate. Thanks to email, it's now attached to pretty much every piece of correspondence that goes out - from the most trivial to the most important. Maybe seeing and sending it in print everyday makes people a bit more anxious about the message it implies. Just a thought. . .

G.
Healthcare IT Central Person

Frank:

AMEN to that! It's the best decision I ever made and I truly enjoy driving my own bus!

And let's not forget...everybody wants top be a "Chief"!
or maybe even a Czar...
The best twist on the CIO moniker I ever heard was "Career Is Over". Got any other good ones too share?

I found the quickest cure to get over the fancy title mania is - go work for yourself!

Thanks for laugh, Joe. Actually I am intimately familiar with the CEO of Healthcare IT Central - she's fabulous! :)

Titles drive some people beyond what I can comprehend and mostly (it appears) to support the EGO. Thanks Joe and Gwen for your feedback. On point - as usual!

Tim Tolan

Senior Partner, Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice

@@TimTolan

http://sanfordrose.net/thetolangroup/

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