How an obsession with job titles may be causing a toxic company culture, and how can this be resolved?

July 19, 2022

As remuneration experts, MM&K consult on all areas of pay and incentives for the companies we advise. Part of our service may also require an element of ‘Job Matching’ which is the process of evaluating a job role based on its responsibilities and capabilities and then identifying which level it sits at within a company’s structure.

Often in professional careers, people strive to climb the ladder of hierarchy with the goal of gaining authority, respect and greater pay, usually acquiring increasingly grander job titles such as Manager or Senior Manager etc along the way. A common attitude towards moving up through the ranks and gaining these positions is to follow a checklist-type process which can lead to an assumption of readiness to assume the title of, say, Manager once a number of ticks are deemed to have been accumulated. A problem with this approach is that qualification for the role and not the title is the important thing. And that requires an understanding by both employers and employees of how the role helps the company to deliver its strategy and what individual qualities are required for an employee to be a good fit for the job. That lack of understanding can lead to misplaced expectation and resentment if that expectation is not met. Job Matching may help to provide a solution.

As mentioned above, Job Matching is the process of identifying a job’s responsibilities and accountabilities and applying them to individual competences and the levels structure within the organisation. The main distinction between working towards a job title and working towards a job role, is that for a role, the employee will need to have built up a good level of experience in their current role, have a deeper level of knowledge and be taking on some of those extra responsibilities required for the role above. Their behaviour will have evolved to fit the “higher” purpose, demonstrating they are a good fit.

Another benefit of having a job level structure in a company is that there is the option of having field experts and senior management at the same level. This removes the view that to be at the upper levels of the company, an individual must have management skills and lead a team of people at lower levels. Often in management-on-top company structures, talent may be overlooked because some of these people don’t possess the desire to manage people, thus limiting their progress. However, with the job levelling process, upper levels of professionals can be at higher levels than some management levels within the company, leading to further development opportunities and greater compensation, which ultimately leads to greater talent retention rates.

In conclusion, job roles are important and offer clarity for those trying to reach upper levels in a company throughout their career and fulfil roles which recognise their capabilities and are valuable in terms of delivering the company’s strategy. They help to identify who is the best fit for the role, and offer development opportunities for all talent whether it seeks progression into management, or as an advanced professional field expert.

For more information, please contact George Edwards.

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