If you remember nothing else about change management, remember this:

Language = Culture

I'm not a fan of what George Carlin used to call 'soft language'. This applies to titles just as much as it does to processes and departments. In fact, wherever I go, I like to sort out my Sales teams into the following groups:

  • Hunters - Business Development, Outside Sales, Field Sales, etc. But their job is to hunt, right? Go out there and get us new Customers. Can't do that? You're not a Hunter.
  • Farmers - Account Managers, Inside Sales, Sales Associates, etc. Once we've got a Customer, it's a Farmer's job to grow how much spend. The moment that number stops growing, they stop being a Farmer and start being an expense.
  • Caregivers - Customer Service, Sales Assistants, Service Coordinators, etc. Their real job is to retain Customers, right? But it's possible to service a Customer and still not care, and that just won't cut it any more. There are dozens of other organizations out there calling 'your' Customers every day, and you'll lose them in a heartbeat if your reps don't care, and make it clear that your organization cares.

One organization that I worked for was fine with the idea of calling the folks in these groups by these names internally, but horrified by the idea of using them in front of Customers. Why? Isn't that what these folks do? Isn't this what we do and should expect from them? What's wrong with Customers being aware of that? Where's the harm in honesty?

Think about this: Every organization that you work for in your career has an org chart. The org chart's purpose, at least in theory, is to show your organization's reporting structure - the chain of command. This is supposed to help make it clear whom you go to for what. But isn't your first 3 to 6 months in any organization as much about learning what that org chart really means as it is about learning the job? What a waste of time!

If the titles of the people in your org chart include mouthfuls like "Vice President in Charge of Customer Advocacy", you're guilty of soft language. Guilty is the right word, too; you should be ashamed of making it so hard for people to figure out that this person is your Head Caregiver!

I know, a lot of you use titles to avoid paying people more money; calling someone 'Executive Director of Competitive Intelligence' certainly makes them feel good, doesn't it? If they were just a 'Competitive Intelligence Coordinator' before, a fancy title like that sure sounds like a promotion, doesn't it? Although the money won't change. It's all about perceived value; squeeze enough titles in there, and you can get away without a comp increase for at least 2 or 3 years, maybe even longer.

Or you can use titles to reward people you really like. They've hit the top of the pay scale for 'Internal Communications Officer', but if you change that to 'Internal Communications Manager', you can pay them an extra 10%. And isn't good management all about cronyism?

Or you can call people what they do, make it clear what their responsibilities are, and motivate them by sharing that information far and wide.

Here are some ideas. Please feel free to share your own:

  • Boss
  • Bean Counter
  • Penny Pincher
  • Maker
  • Hunter
  • Farmer
  • Caregiver
  • Fixer
  • Crier
  • Artist
  • Whip (oh, we're gonna get comments about this one)

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