Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Name Game

General Manager
Doctorate, PhD
Managing Director
Chief Executive Officer
Group Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Director
Chief Presidential Director

We often hear the above appellations in our daily lives. These appellations are either something the average employees crave and work hard for in their career or something bestowed by entrepreneurs on themselves upon their pioneering of a business.

Prefix the titles of the above appellations and other designations with these: Chief, Assistant, Deputy, Vice, Executive, Senior, Higher, Prime, Lead, Associate, Acting, Honorary, International, Global, Country and we end up with even more nice sounding titles!

A higher status and salary are something many employees strive for in their career. Many want higher salaries to enjoy a better quality of life (in terms of material comfort) and a higher status (hence higher appellations) to gain recognition. Often in life, a higher appellation should translate into a higher salary with the attainment of a more senior appointment in the company.

However, it may not be true in reality these days. Nowadays, it may be common in some companies to give nice sounding titles to their employees though the salaries given to them may not really commensurate with similar titles given in the industry. For example, practically everyone can be a manager; a small company outfit can confer the title of a ‘Manager’ on an employee though he can be paid at a mere $1500 per month so long as that employee still has at least one staff reporting to him.

In other cases, an employee could still be appointed as manager, head or director though there is no reportee under him! The rationale is that this employee has been in long service with the company so that his pay has risen over the years to a significant amount, thus the company confers a nice sounding name such as a Manager to him though he may have no reportees under him.

Higher responsibility + Higher Pay =Higher Designation is often the norm, however as I have shared above, Higher Designation can also be equal to:

Higher Designation= Little responsibility + Higher Pay or

Higher Designation= Higher responsibility + Lower Pay

The worst can be when someone is given or confers upon himself a nice sounding appellation when he has little responsibilities and is paid little; an example can be someone registering a ‘Open-Shell’ company with no business and call himself a President!

The name game can also be extended to instances when renowned businessmen, successful in their business, the rich, famous and powerful want an extra icing on their cakes. It is not uncommon to read about the rich and famous pursuing doctorates from degree-mills or even buying them from some non-existent universities, just to get that ‘Dr.’ title on their name. However, I believe it to be equitable when a man successful in an arena such as politics or business be conferred ‘Honorary Doctorate’ by a renowned university in that particular field as he is very successful and recognized for his efforts and contributions in that field.

I also have no grouse when higher appellations are given to boost the image of the local service industry. For example, drivers of public buses are now called bus captains as opposed to being called bus drivers. Again, I believe such higher designation is fair and equitable as the bus driver not only has to drive his bus safely but he also has to oversee, manage the overall well-being of his passengers arising from any sudden emergencies or unwarranted incidents during the journey efficiently and effectively, e.g. crimes, fights, fires, accidents. The bus captain is the passenger’s steward and the passengers are his charges.

In light of the current economic crisis, I believe not many people care about nice-sounding titles any greater than the real practical stuff: salary.

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