Letting Employees Pick Their Titles- Good Business Motivation Idea or Potential Disaster?

December 16, 2011  |   San Diego Bookkeeping   |     |   Comments Off on Letting Employees Pick Their Titles- Good Business Motivation Idea or Potential Disaster?

Joe Reynolds is an entrepreneur who decided to pursue his passion by turning a $5,000 investment in an event production business called Red Frog into a thriving $45 million company in just four years. So we should consider his ideas before dismissing them out of hand as he has obviously shown he can make his ideas work!

That said, I don’t think this is going to work for every company or every situation- after all, your clients, vendors and partners may be more confused than amused if they aren’t able to figure out who’s who by title or they may have trouble taking your proposal seriously if your title is head clown.

For creative businesses or ones where employees are not outward facing it is a free, fun and potentially motivating way to make life a work a little less like work. If it fits for your business, give it a try. If we were to put it into place, what I might do is make it a choose your own subtitle, while keeping some control over their main title. After all, I want my clients to know they are dealing with a professional bookkeeper first and foremost. If the subtitle on her business card says “Bean Counting Queen” and that still works for the clients and me then I say no problem- let’s do it.

Here’s his take on how to make it work:

Typically, CEOs wear fancy suits, answer to boards and act corporate. That’s not who I am or who I aspire to be. I’m dead focused on building Red Frog Events in a way that aligns with our unique, casual culture, and that includes throwing egos and traditional job titles out the window.

Upon getting hired at Red Frog, our employees simply choose their title—most use alliteration and are descriptive of their personality or actual job. Our COO is the “Master of Monkey Business,” our general counsel is the “Juggler of Justice,” and our CFO is the “Captain of Currency.”

Drop your company’s stale ego-massaging titles, and stop taking yourself so seriously.

Four reasons to ditch traditional titles:

  1. Creating unique titles breeds creativity. And that’s one of our core values. By having innovative job titles, you’re always setting the right tone and context.
  2. These titles are memorable. At a conference I’d be more curious and more apt to talk to a Duke of Dollars than a Vice President of Northern Operations.
  3. Creative titles promote flatness.  We have a very flat organization and shun the word “boss.” Having self-made titles puts a new hire on a level playing field with everyone else.
  4. These names are just plain fun. Just the fact that your company has a Titan of Tomfoolery around will probably make you smile a little more.

Now go rid your company of those boring titles and add a Keyboard Cowboy and Conquistador of Color. Not only will it be a fun new twist for your employees, but it might end up having an indirect positive impact on your bottom line, too.

A playful title structure also can give your office leaders a chance to show a different side of their personality. My first meeting with our architects had a lasting impact: As it turns out, I’m an architect, too: the Architect of Adventure.

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