What’s in a name?

How do you describe what you do?

A few months ago an incredibly wise guy by the name of Bob Battye delivered a session to our Leadership team.

He challenged us to re-write our Linkedin profiles describing what we were like as people – what we were actually about – rather than what we actually DID.

It’s challenging.

We are so used to hiding behind job titles and career achievements. We use words that provide an easily understandable code to each other but , let’s be honest, mean little to anyone living in the real world.

That’s why plenty of Bromford people now have a profile reading something like this:

Bob reminded us that we engage with people not titles.  We are interested in people who show what they care about , rather than just the function they perform.

Job titles can often lead us to talk about our purpose in the most prosaic terms imaginable.

From Assistant to Officer to Team Leader to Head of Whatever , to Director of You Know What.

It’s too often about structure rather than culture.

Starbucks knew this. It just wouldn’t have worked if they had employed Beverage Attendants. They had to have Baristas instead.

Most modern job titles only exist for two reasons: To differentiate one department from another and to provide a snapshot of the persons position in the hierarchy.

A lot of this was borne out of 20th Century management think. Before the onset of flatter structures , collaborative workspaces, crowdsourcing.

Last week I posted about how we had tried to apply new thinking to Job Descriptions. Aiming for the inspirational rather than the functional.

But we have gone a step further and begun to apply it to Job titles.

  • A Neighbourhood Investment Advisor becomes a Skills Coach.
  • An Economic Inclusion Manager (what?!) becomes an Opportunities Manager.
  • And I’m now an Innovation Coach.

You can’t tell who leads the teams and it’s not clear who line reports to whom.  But does that matter?

This isn’t about us.

It’s not even about the organisation.

It’s about not letting people be limited by their place on a structure chart. Enabling them to be they best they can be.

And to talk about why they got up this morning.

Let’s make job descriptions inspirational….

About 3 months ago I posted a blog/rant about why most Job Descriptions are complete rubbish.

You know what I’m talking about. You read the one for the job you are doing now.

Uninspiring: Although you said it was really really exciting at interview.

Impenetrable: You had to search the web to understand some of the jargon.

Long. Very Long: You didn’t read all of it did you? Be honest.

If the typical manager/HR team had written a job description for Mo Farah it would very likely read:

“Needs to run 10,000m every couple of years , remain upright throughout and complete the task to an acceptable level. Your performance is subject to an annual review but don’t worry mate keep your head down and do your best – you won’t get fired.”

And then we would follow it with a load of waffle that states the bleeding obvious:

  • Must demonstrate ability to tie own laces
  • Punctuality when turning up for the race – essential
  • Performs other duties as required by the line manager

As I mentioned in the previous blog – my 5 rules are now these:

  1. Stick to a 140 Character Job Purpose
  2. 1 Page Total Job Description.
  3. Use a picture or graphic.
  4. Use passionate language.
  5. Describe how you want the person to make a difference.

A few people have asked what happened next. Did HR get it? Did a JD that included the word “Sexy” in its job purpose get past go?

Well , the answer is yes.

Here’s a quick sample from five of them. See what you think. Would it make you want to get out of bed in the morning?

“You are a teacher , a coach , a mentor and a shoulder to cry on….your mission is that no meeting you host will ever be boring.”

“You are responsible for making Volunteering sexy. You give people something to look forward to.”

‘You will live and breathe Connect – ensuring it delivers “Apple standard” performance to its users. You are responsible for whether it succeeds or fails.”

 “You believe that young people can create the jobs of the future. And you make it happen.”

“You are the first step in helping someone be the best they can be. You change lives”

Whether you love or loathe this – there is a genuine problem we all need to help solve. 1 in 4 of us don’t feel we reach our creative potential in the workplace.

And right now we need creativity , innovation and aspiration in our companies and communities more than ever before.

So let’s say goodbye to average. And aim for inspirational from the start.

On this work experience thing……..

 
Designing The Experience of Work
I hated my work experience. Two weeks spent making cup’s of tea and doing the filing for embittered old men. It instilled in me a fear of offices, old men and filing that took 6 years to get over.
 
Then I found a manager who helped me find what I liked doing.
 
There is surely nothing wrong with the concept of “work experience”. The concept of giving people a chance – any chance – to prove what they can do has to be applauded.
 
But there is a problem with work experience. And it’s not just that businesses may be using unpaid help to subsitute the work of establishment posts. ( I’ve not seen any evidence to be fair)
 
The problem is the concept of work experience hasn’t changed fundamentally since the late 1980’s. It’s still about herding people into experiences that they might hate rather than unlocking potential.
 
Bromford have gone some way to re-designing this. Over 200 people applied for our last Opportunities 4 Employment placements. Paid placements that give 6 months work experience in a variety of roles and experiences. Giving the young person the opportunity to try us out as much as we are trying them. And if they like it they can have an Apprenticeship in the area of the business they are most interested in.
 
There is room for further innovation. Work Experience needs re-designing for the 21st Century.
 
It needs to be about helping people find out what they love doing and how they can get paid for it.
 
 
 
 
 
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