According to a recent Job Title Practices report*, businesses create official job titles for several reasons, such as to outline company hierarchy, to define job roles and to attract talented recruits. But as useful as job titles can be in the workplace, business coach, Daria Hanson has a simple word of caution for business owners and management.
'Be aware - an employee's true contribution to your business often has nothing to do with their job title."
Hanson is an entrepreneurial development coach, Joy of Business facilitator and global finance coordinator for Access Consciousness®, a set of life-enhancing tools practiced in 173 countries worldwide. She has enjoyed a successful career in retail sales, store management, business finance and executive leadership, and is quick to admit that she never worried about the title of each of her job opportunities.
'I have moved between front-line positions to executive roles and back again, several times. I never worried about the labels", Hanson remarks. 'I knew the value of my skills and experience, and I knew that each new job would open new possibilities for me."
Drawing on her experience as an employee, employer and business coach, Hanson cautions business owners and management against defining their employees too much by their job title, believing that this often restricts the true value each employee can bring to the company.
'There is too much emphasis on labels; the idea that your label defines your success, your worth. If this mindset is adopted by business owners and leaders, it limits the creative and problem-solving capacity of the business. Why? Because decisions are only made by those whose job title fits the brief", she explains.
Hanson believes the savvy business leader is able to overlook labels and allow their staff to contribute outside, and often beyond, what their job title would suggest.
'At Access Consciousness, we don't have job titles. It's not about the labels; it's about what you do. If you have a talent and you can contribute in some way, then you are encouraged to be involved. It makes sense to me," Hanson remarks. 'Why would you compartmentalise your staff?"
In order to help businesses devise better strategies, solve issues easier and stimulate more creative ideas and visions, Hanson suggests business leaders adopt one simple business practice. 'Have a regular all-hands meeting to discuss creative solutions and ideas", she suggests. 'Step beyond the idea that only management have the ability to solve problems, or that only your marketing team can come up with creative and innovative ideas", she encourages.
According to Hanson, an all-hands meeting, at least once a month, can help businesses in the following ways:
Stimulates creative ideas and solutions. 'Allow all staff to approach these meetings as creative equals. Make the point of these meetings -What can be contributed to? What can we co-create as a team?'"
Offers a 360° awareness of the business. 'What insight can your receptionist give you about customer satisfaction? What value can your sales team give you about branding and marketing? Having a broad view of your business helps you create more positive outcomes."
Increases staff engagement and decision -buy-in'. 'Studies show that taking part in the decision making process increases staff engagement and makes them more enthusiastic about implementing the changes or solutions that are decided upon."
Improves staff morale and confidence. 'Most employees are put into a box around their job title; they are told -This is who you are; this is what you do; this is what we think you are capable of'. In these all-hands meetings, everyone in the room is respected for their ideas, experiences, insights and creativity. Everyone has an opportunity to recognise their value to the business."
Hanson says, 'The key is to provide a space where your staff are no longer defined or limited by the description on their business card. Instead, they become individuals with innate skills, talents and ideas."
Daria Hanson is a business mentor, life coach, Joy of Business facilitator and global finance coordinator for Access Consciousness®, a set of life-enhancing tools practiced in 173 countries worldwide. She has a degree in Economics and Management and a successful background in retail sales, store management, business finance and executive leadership. Through Joy of Business, a special program by Access Consciousness, Daria coaches entrepreneurs and business owners around the world, empowering them step up to their greatest capacity. www.dariahanson.com
Question: How can employers encourage employees to see beyond a job title?
Daria Hanson: I would say the first requirement is for the employer to see that the employee is not defined by the job title he/she is given. And if this is challenging to do, my recommendation is for the employer to ask a question: "What have I decided about this person that is limiting what this person can contribute, beyond their job title". I see an employer as a leader and a true leader is there to empower people to seek greatness ... to push the limits … not to limit people to what they have already decided they can be. How do you push the limit and invite people to their greatness? You do that by asking them questions: "What do you see is possible for this company that has not yet been explored? What do you know? What could we be and do different? What are the challenges that you see we would not have, if we implemented a new system? What is this system? How do you see this system? What do you perceive is missing? What are you aware of that we might not be aware of?" When a leader is asking questions of the people who work with him/her, doors to greatness open up. Yes! A true leader does not have people work for him/her. A true leader has people working with him/her. When an employer does not treat an employee as less than him/her, he/she empowers people to step and contribute beyond their job title. Most people when they are given a job title have to make themselves smaller and lesser to fit the job title. Why? Because most of us have been made wrong most of our lives. And when we are given any title, we have to make everything that does not fit that title 'wrong' and cut off any knowledge or instinctive awareness that we have that goes beyond the title description.
Question: What is the quickest way we place limits on the creative side of a business?
Daria Hanson: The quickest way to place limits on the creative side of business is to have a pre-determined conclusion of what this business is, means, and will be in the future. It is challenging to have a vision of the business and not make it solid and concrete, while still having projected targets for the next year, 10 years, 50 years. Projections by definition are limiting. One has to be willing to go beyond the predictable future and explore the unpredictable possibilities the business might attract. Kodak, for example, concluded that they were the best in their business and were not willing to change, even as the new trends of digital photography was emerging. And they failed. Their vision did not include change, an unpredictable future or malleability of business. You have to be willing to perceive possible change in the future, and be prepared to create with that possible future, not reject it.
Question: Can a job title hold the business back from success?
Daria Hanson: I believe it can, if you misuse it. Titles can be useful to help you structure the company, make sure certain tasks are done and be aware who is responsible for those tasks. But it should not be the definition, or a limitation, that is imposed on the person performing the task. If the employee is defined by his/her tasks, they often cut off their instinctive awareness of other things they know and can learn; things that can contribute to the success of business. Some people might feel like they are held down and are limited by their titles, and become bored with the routine of everyday tasks. Some people are amazing at maintaining and establishing. Some people are great at creating and connecting. And some people, like me, need both: the opportunity to establish, and the space for creation and the freedom of exploration of possibilities and change. When employees are invited to contribute and are empowered to be more than what their definition of their tasks are, they have a creative spirit in business and joy in everything they do. They might come up with new ways of making their tasks more efficient. They might see that some tasks might be combined, or are not even necessary anymore. When a job title does not limit, change and growth are possible.
Question: How important is it to employee and ask for help within business?