What’s In A Name: Do Job Titles Matter?

Learn how your job title might have an impact on your wellbeing and what you can do about it!

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Job titles may seem “all business”, but how your role is named might have an impact on your wellbeing. Seem far fetched? Think about how much time you spend telling people about your role or how many times you have to tell others what your title is. Research shows that your job title affects how you see yourself and your importance as an employee. Read on to figure out how to get the most of your title.

Identity Matters – Your Title Plays a Role

First, it’s important to recognize that your work identity matters for your wellbeing. The connection you feel between who you are and the work you do means a lot. Research shows that your identity affects how you approach your work and that your work can affect your identity. In other words, if you value giving back to your community, you might shape your job so that you get to do that more frequently. So, you can actually shape your job to match your identity.

But, your job can also shape you. If you feel your job doesn’t match you well, you can either change the way you think about yourself or accept feeling disconnected from the work. For example, if you never saw yourself as an accountant, but you became one, you might try to convince yourself that you actually do connect with the work in ways you hadn’t considered. Or you might just decide that your work is just work and you have to find other ways to express who you really are. But, if you take the latter route, you will be more likely to disengage and burnout. In any event, your job affects how you see yourself and how you act on the job. Your job title is part of that!

job title matters
Your title can have something to do with how you identify with your work!

Picking Your Own Job Title Enhances Well-Being

Believe it or not, as mentioned at the start of the article, selecting your own job title can decrease your emotional exhaustion. Your job allows you to develop personally and interpersonally. Research has shown that your work helps you to become a part of something, to perform meaningful actions, and to relate to others. We have talked about the importance of finding meaning in your work before. So, it’s no wonder that having more control over how you see yourself and how others see you at work makes you more energized!

If you have just been handed a job title or you are responsible for handing them to others, you may not have thought about the meaning titles hold before. But, your role title really does tell people who you are. Maybe you are called an HR Generalist, but really you feel that you are more like an “Employee Concierge”. Or maybe you are a janitor, but you wish to be called a “Custodial Host”, like Disney has made part of their protocol. Telling people how you see yourself, instead of being assigned a role title, helps you to feel more connected with yourself at work. It also makes you more comfortable communicating who you are with others. All of this is beneficial for well-being!

But, how can you possibly pick your own title?

While this is definitely an innovative idea, it may not be impossible to take better control over your title. First, brainstorm how you would like to be titled. What title really speaks to your identity and describes your job well? What would you feel proud telling people you do? Of course, you can’t invent an entirely new job for yourself. But, if you could think of a title that fits your role and fits you, what would it be? Now, think about how you might be able to find ways to incorporate this title at work.

A clear way to do this might be to talk to your supervisor. Ask directly how much leeway you have in changing your title. Especially if you work for a small company, or a company that values new ideas, you might have more influence than you think. It can’t hurt to ask! If you are a manager, think about ways that you might allow some flexibility in titling if possible. Consider letting people have input over their title, even if it’s just a slow change. Maybe you can start with those who have newly created jobs, making your team happier and more engaged over time.

faceted job title
We are all multi-faceted. How can you make sure that your job title reflects the most important parts of your identity?

Your Official Job Title May Not Be The Final Word

If you aren’t able to change your actual job title, think about ways to bring your preferred title into your work somehow. Can you add it to a tagline in your email signature? For example, maybe you’re a COO, but you feel like your true passion is to connect people across the organization. Can you put “Chief People Connector” somewhere in your communications with others? Maybe you’re a customer service rep but you feel your job is to drive customer experience. Can you describe yourself internally as a “Customer Experience Crafter”? These little things might bring you closer to being seen how you’d like to be at work.

Finally, at the very least, you can change your tagline on LinkedIn or on personal business cards to better reflect your preferred title. You can also incorporate your title into your “elevator speech” when someone asks you to describe yourself and your work. You always have control over your own image. So, don’t feel defined by your current title when talking to others outside of work!

What do you think? Do you feel your title fits you? Have you ever been able to influence your title? Would you allow your employees to choose their own titles? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!!

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