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November 26, 2012

The Tricky Task of "Titling"

Filed under: Communication,Compensation — Tags: 9:27 am

One of the challenges in writing and reviewing job descriptions appears in something that, on the surface, seems so simple – assigning a job title.  For many people, however, it seems to weigh higher in importance than the content of the job responsibilities!  When writing job descriptions I often thought functions such as “clean toilets daily” could be incorporated into the job description as long as the title was to the liking of the incumbents in the position.

So why are titles so important?  There are probably a number of reasons, such as:

      • Identification of an individual – what’s the first question someone asks when they meet you?  Generally “what do you do?” which you respond with your job title.
      • Identification within the organization – a title often identifies your level of hierarchy in the organization.  Unfortunately, people tend to place importance on an individual’s ranking based on title.

From a compensation perspective, titles are important when looking at external market.  It’s important that job titles assigned to your positions match or are very similar in nature to those of your peers.  For market competitiveness, a title may indicate a certain level of responsibility which in turn results in a range of pay for someone typically performing the job functions of someone in that “job title”.

Although an external market survey cannot be simply matching job title to job title, if titles are assigned correctly and not over- or under-inflated, it makes the compensation process a lot easier to implement and communicate to employees.

So don’t let the assignment of job titles over complicate the process of writing job descriptions.  Simply stick to one of my favorite mottos:  “if it talks like a duck, walks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

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