Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

Reinventing Job Titles

I’m currently in California and have had a brilliant few days catching up with friends of ours from LA who are both fire fighters.

Now as I can’t seem to stop myself noticing things from an HR point of view, I realised something about American job titles. They are very action oriented.

When I was growing up, we called them Firemen (and in the children’s TV show Fireman Sam – he’s still called a Fireman). From the job title he is a man who does something with fire. Whereas the job title ‘Firefighter’ clearly says that the job is to fight fires.

Rather than Police Officers, here they are called Law Enforcement Officers – they are here to enforce the law.

In hospitality in NZ we have waiters. In the US they are servers. Rather than wait around, they serve you meals! I also heard many teachers are now calling themselves Educators.

I know it’s a very small change but it does make you think about what result they are trying to get. I know many companies have changed their customer service roles to being called ninja’s – which is funky and says the person is an expert – but still doesn’t really say what result the person is there to achieve. Customer Experience is nearer to the mark but still doesn’t say what type of experience.

At the HR Advisors Conference in Wellington in January I met someone with the best HR job title I’ve ever heard – she was called a ‘Team Happiness Engineer’.

Perhaps one of the issues we have in HR is that people don’t know what result we’re there to achieve. Could we reinvent HR role titles to be more action orientated? And should we do that for other roles in our business?

Because if you were a manager, who would you rather get advice and support from? An HR Officer or a Team Happiness Engineer? I know which I’d choose.


Angela Atkins is a best-selling author and business entrepreneur who has a passion for providing development and training for HR and people managers through the Management Bites programme, HR Conferences and other events She is currently reconsidering her job title!

One comment on “Reinventing Job Titles

  1. Pingback: Reinventing Job Titles – insideHR

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This entry was posted on May 5, 2016 by in human resources and tagged , , , .
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