If you are an avid listener of FM radio, you might have heard Rakib's voice greeting you from the station he works for. Rakib joined the radio station about five years ago and over the last two years, he has established himself as an accomplished Radio DJ. Interestingly, his job title still reads 'producer of Brand, Content and Digital' of the station.
"Shows are not on my job title but I still do them sometimes because it feels good to know I am talking to so many people at the same time," he says. As for his official set of duties, he still does them regularly.
A job title is the name of the position you hold at your company, typically associated with a specific set of tasks and responsibilities. In other words, it is simply what you are supposed to do at work.
Generally speaking, we have carried out tasks at work that were never a part of our contract or job description. Sometimes it may be covering for a dear colleague or at other times, or we are made an offer we cannot refuse because it comes from the boss.
Irrespective of how we feel about the task, we do it. As the number of these tasks, beyond the scope of our job title, pile up, we ask ourselves if we were hired to do those. So, are job titles as important as they sound or are they slowly becoming irrelevant?
The 'Status' factor of the job title
Doing work beyond your job description is one thing, but one is faced with a whole set of other issues when they hold a position for years without actually doing work that directly corresponds to that title.
Job titles also denote status and authority. There are situations when a job title is essential to getting the job done. Otherwise, one may not command the necessary respect from the subordinates to maintain smooth operations.
"In our society job titles determine prestige and social status. I have observed thousands of CEOs in my facebook profile who have a company – I am not sure whether they have a trade licence – but they have no team." says Niaz Ahmed Founder & CEO of Corporate Ask.
He added, "Job titles are important because it creates your identity. It distinguishes you from the rest of the people."
If one's job title is not reflective of the work they do, eventually, if they switch jobs, they might fail to do what is expected of them.
Some even go as far as naming themselves CEO of their new startup consisting of only two members. While it is easy to think that post is a big one – which it is – but this does not do much to explain how far their reach within the organisation goes.
Description vs Duty
As the workplace keeps evolving and so does the breadth of tasks for a multi-talented employee, it is not at all uncommon for three-four different roles to bleed into one another. The tasks one needs to perform keep changing all the time in today's fast-moving world. As such many companies are doing away with traditional job titles altogether.
Try imagining an entire organisation that is run by real, living superheroes.
"The idea is that when people join the Analyzen team, they come up with two or three superhero names they identify themselves with. And based on the mentor's interaction with the new member, his or her superhero name is decided," said Risalat Siddique aka Man of Steel, the CEO of Analyzen.
Of course, there are designations for the workforce of Analyzen. Risalat says, "We work with ideas. While experience matters a great deal, ideas are the keys that open big gates. This is why we do not believe in job titles."
Instead of a tall organisational structure that deprives a new member the access to older, experienced ones, they keep it relatively the same for everyone just so that ideas do not get lost in running up and down the hierarchy.
He added, "But that does not mean we do not measure growth in the organisation. We have role expansion rather than promotion since it is really just an expansion of responsibilities. Everyone is accountable to themselves, not their bosses."
In case of confusion or advice required on some task, they can simply walk over to their assigned mentor and get instant feedback and/or instructions.
At Analyzen there is no supervisor; employees maintain a Mentor-Mentee relationship where they help each other evolve and grow to their full potential.
Risalat Siddique stressed that in the modern era, job titles are becoming obsolete. There is a broad range of tasks and responsibilities hidden behind an outdated title.
But when the value of the Job Title is inflated
Oftentimes, the job title may not reflect the actual work one does at all. A title can be assigned just to boost morale and may have very little relation to what they do. And in other instances, when negotiating for a job at a different organisation people might overstate the importance of the title they hold to prospective employers.
Also, as HR practices in Bangladesh are not particularly strong, sometimes people's job titles are entirely misrepresentative of what they actually do. Someone holding a menial office might have a job title like Senior Corporate Vice President but in essence that post may provide little in the way of explaining what they do to add value.
"Job titles can, and should, supersede the job description as these descriptions are often an indication of the minimum scope of responsibilities," says PwC Bangladesh Managing Director, Mamun Rashid, adding, "Those who excel at their position (at each title) take ownership of their own development and contribution to the company."
Job titles in the digital age
Despite whatever the job title says, many experts believe one has to do 20-30% more than their official job description for a smooth career progession. The workplace has already become a combination of what an individual needs to do on the job and what they want to do on the job to add value to both their career curve and workspace.
"High performers often tend to expand beyond the scope of their official designation and contribute in ways that are above and beyond their role. Job titles are no longer important," Mamun says.
However, job titles still matter because they allow members of an organisation to know the type of work to do. In theory they also allow people from other organisations to better understand what the role involves.
Modern technology has enabled us to master skills beyond the scope of our education.
For instance, a student from an arts background may be a better coder than an affiliate Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) major student. The opposite can also be true if the CSE major is a better sketch artist than a fine arts major.
The fine line between profession and hobby has been smudged and professionals around the globe put the two together to arrive at a combined better output.
How important are job titles in today's age?
"Job titles are always changing. A number of titles and designations have emerged in very recent times, which did not exist in the past. For example, Innovation officer, Growth Hacker, SEO Manager, Virtual Assistant, etc." says Niaz Ahmed, Founder & CEO of Corporate Ask.
However, does that answer why employers ask more of their workforce than they signed up for? If so, why do 'Job Titles' even exist? For the youth, this is one question that is becoming a point of concern. Most companies look at your achievements and responsibilities in each role.
"Your job title is only that, a title. Your work speaks for itself," says Mamun.