Titles, status & assumptions LO10096

Fri, 20 Sep 96 18:57:02 PDT

Replying to LO10021 --

This is in response to Ben Compton's posting in "The Unlearning
Organisations" thread.

Ben responds to Roxanne's comment:
>>Our formal reward systems have
>>transformed otherwise normal
>>human beings into Frankenstein
> monsters who crave perks and
>>titles and other visible symbols
>>of success.

with comments on evaluation and reward then says:

>I also like the idea of getting
>rid of titles. I've seen too
>many people throw a fit because
>they didn't like their title.
>And, frankly, titles also cause
>of sense of disunity within the

I agree completely, not only because titles can be divisive and become
part of the trappings of status within a hierarchical organisation but
also because of the assumptions about the individual they can generate
(following the mental models within the organisation).

I dislike titles for both these reasons but here in Asia I have found not
only is status more important than I was used to in UK but the exchange of
business cards an important semi-formal ritual, even between members of
the same organisation (incidentally, I like the politeness of this...
giving and receiving with both hands, keeping the ones given on the table
rather than putting them away).

My solution has been to have two sets of cards; one with my official title
for use with customers and other external parties where convention
dictates its use but the other, mainly for internal use, has no title.
This usually prompts the question "What do you do?" (not "what's your
title"!!) which I can answer with a brief description rather than have the
person make assumptions about "Manager, Service Quality" (The unspoken
"Ut-oh! Another 'stupid label guy'" to paraphrase Dilbert)

Incidentally, my favourite title on a business card was a colleague who
was a pioneer "change agent" in our organisation (before we knew of such
labels) who used "A sort-of co-ordinator". Unfortunately the protectors of
the Corporate Image at Head Office eventually saw one and its continued
use prevented... which says a lot about the culture of our organisation!


Phillip Spencer phillip@singnet.com.sg (if replying take care: 'phillip' has "double-el")

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>