Sunday, March 23, 2008

What's in a title?

Some of you might find this post familiar. It's just my article for the bazaar magazine for the month of February. It might be a little too stale and the moment but the topic still makes my head boil at times......and sometimes makes me laugh until I almost puke my guts out! on:
What qualifies a person to be a manager? Or what qualifies a person to be a Director or Vice President for that matter? Let’s take a peek at how titles are derived these days.

I don’t mean to pass judgment on the people that have gone up the ladder the old fashioned way – hard work, hands-on experience and leadership abilities among many other traits. It’s just that in recent times we have seen an unusual, almost abnormal growth of titles in large corporations and medium sized company. Gone are the days when being a Sales Manager or Product Manager was the “in” thing. Now we have complex titles like Manager, International Relations, Middle East & Africa or Senior Corporate Advisor, Asia & Emerging Markets. They have titles, subtitles and the area in which they function both in terms of the company itself and sometimes the geographical location.

Occasionally these fancy titles take about 40 per cent of the space available on a business card (and half your breath away). The people with the titles for the most part are just “suits” or sometimes just “skirts” if I may use that term. People with a fancy degree from an even fancier sounding college or university that speak with a Western accent get fancier titles compared to the rest of the plebeian folk.

What dictates your title and your position in the pecking order of a company? Is it your experience? Is it your capacity to handle complicated projects? Is it your ability to supervise people? Apparently some companies in Kuwait have no clear distinctions. You could be a Vice President and have nobody except an executive assistant reporting to you. You could be in a department of six wherein all six are managers with no sub-ordinates.

Granted sometimes when you are in a Business Development function and you are meeting with higher-ranking members of the business community, it does help if you have a senior (sounding) title on your business card. However that does not mean you hire people who have just graduated out of a top university and give them a superior title to impress your clients and this seems to be the case in Kuwait of late.

In my opinion, companies in Kuwait have to draw a line on how to award titles. For instance, if you are in the capacity of Business Development Manager, are you in a position to draw up a Business Plan for the product or service that you are selling? Are you able to segregate strategic, tactical and day-to-day decisions and create a plan that will incorporate all these fundamentals? In most cases, I’ll tell you right now, the answer is no. Fine, they probably can drum up an exciting presentation in PowerPoint with fancy bells and whistles and sophisticated graphs and pie charts but tell them to do something a little more strategic in nature and they’ll shun you like the plague! They make simple projects sounds as convoluted as knitting sweaters for an entire football team blindfolded in semi-circles!

This is something I have experienced. I meet these kinds of people on a daily basis all the time. These are the people who have offices of their own and disapprove of working in cubicles. They are the kind of people who appear to be real busy (taking a page right out of Dilbert) staring into their laptops all day making you think they’re diligent workers who have an urge to make it to the top. Little known to the common folk is that these people are actually silently chatting away their time on MSN or of late (Face-booking their profile). Or they could be YouTubing too! What is amusing is their skill on how to maximize and minimize applications in Windows is so flawless that they can make you believe they’ve been working hard on a global product pricing graph all day when the truth of the matter is they’ve been chatting to some East European girl promising to walk down the aisle with them and bring them to Kuwait for better prospects.

Personally I could care less if these people become CEOs within the next year or two. I would rather hone my skills as a professional and climb the ladder – the right way. To those people with flamboyant titles, all I can say is – Damn shame!


BachBlue said...

Tagged !!! (check my blog for the rules)

goanred said...

hey barry boy is that you? this is rupesh from goa! drop me a line at rgodekar if you are the dude from colvale, cheers!