Position Over Title: Increasing Collaboration In The Workplace

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Do you overhear colleagues complaining about their job titles around the hallways? Do you find yourself asking why you are creating new jobs on your org chart to satisfy an employee’s demand for a new title? Have you heard your supervisor or colleague state that something is “not their job” and cringed? Are you wasting your time and energy on the wrong people? Yes, you probably are.

After more than a decade of being a business operator, there is one common situation I have learned to avoid: when someone is looking for a new title instead of asking for new responsibilities, opportunities or challenges.

In recent years, we started raising a red flag during the recruiting process for anyone concerned more about the title they would have versus the impact they would make or the team they would work with.

The Next Trend: Title-Free?

First things first, I am not an irrational leader suggesting anarchy. I am a true believer in structure, order and discipline, but I also understand that flexibility is paramount when it comes to successfully working in structured chaos (better known as fast-paced environments). In the same way, some people use the “agility” concept to justify loose project management. I don’t want to set the table for slacking commitment and results. I want to avoid working with egocentric people who are title-focused instead of role-focused.

To do so, I am proposing we remove the title from the equation. Just like people say, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” I’m suggesting employees take on the responsibility of the job they want instead of the one they have because the position will go to someone who actually earns it.

Removing The Title From The Equation

First came flex time. Then the unlimited vacation policy. Now I’m suggesting the next step forward in a modern organization would be a workplace free of titles. In this case, you would define specific roles and positions and not waste time with titles.

In small cities, the fire department is often made up of volunteers who also have other paying jobs. When a fire occurs, the department sounds the alarm, and the part-time volunteers step up to the plate. No one claims to be more important than another or that their life has more value. Just like volunteer firefighters, the most successful team members should be quick to help a colleague when needed at a moment’s notice.

An Ego-Free Zone 

The concept of no titles naturally sparks one’s ego to make counterarguments because you will no longer be special. Put your ego aside and consider how much more collaborative and flexible work would be if you didn’t waste your time with a job title but got excited about multiple roles or responsibilities. You could have fewer blockages and waste less time, creating more value for the organization and progressing your own skills and experience. This way your vision can be broadened, and you will be able to have the freedom to go all the way with an idea, concept or solution for a problem instead of being justified for doing less within your title.

The bottom line is that when we hire new team members, we tell them, “If you are looking for a title, you are in the wrong place.” And as my company progresses, I am seriously considering getting rid of all titles across our organization. Would you consider the same? At the end of the day, title or not, job description or role, the goal is to align the whole team around the same vision and objectives to empower people and grow.

 

Read the Forbes article here

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