I was speaking recently with a friend and colleague who heads up a creative team at an online services company. She was discussing her battle with HR to have her title changed to include Director. Her boss and her boss’ boss, both in the Marketing department, agreed she deserved the addition to her title. HR was contending that she headed up a services group, not a team that was core to the business, and therefore did not deserve the Director title. Incredulous, she pointed out that Finance, Facilities and yes, even HR were service groups under that definition yet they all had Directors.
Aside from the absurdity of the HR department’s rationale, the bigger issue is the importance of titles. My friend is not fighting for more money or a larger team but rather to be set up to successfully deal with peers and managers from a position of strength. For better or worse, many in hierarchical organizations take titles seriously (perhaps too seriously) and respond accordingly. To walk into a first time meeting as a Director can create a perception of authority and gravitas that could empower my colleague in ways a Manager title could not.
My friend has the political savvy to know that it’s worth the fight to acquire the title.