What’s in a title? Since you’ve spent the better part of your career battling perceptions and branding is under your purview, you understand. So let this be your moment to reflect and think about yourself. Yes, you.
Your job title can impact everything from your level of mental exhaustion to your identity, according to research published in the Academy of Management Journal.
A study of job titling practices revealed 80% of companies surveyed use job titles to accurately reflect the corporate hierarchy and more than 92% use them to define an employee’s role. Only 37% use titles to attract prospective employees, according to the study published by Pearl Meyer & Partners, an executive compensation consultancy based in New York City. What about retaining talent? Does your current title inspire you to stay?
A title isn’t superficial. It’s a signal. A badge. A beacon. And if you’re on the brink, here are 7 reasons to consider advocating for a title change:
1. Your title should name the solution you champion. And align with your purpose.
When you replay discussions from your most recent leader meetings, what challenges occupied the leadership team? How often did you think … “Well, yes, my title names the answer I bring to the table?” Were you brought to the discussion early and often to strategize a solution? Or were the opportunities or problems swept up, entangled and nearly too far downstream by the time you were brought in?
Does your title hit the solution-homing beacon, alerting those around you to seek your advice and bring the voice of the consumer to all areas of service, products and experience?
And if that question stirs up frustration, take a moment to think about what inspires your resilience. Your “why.” What is your purpose in this organization? Does your title connect with your personal purpose and passion?
2. Your title should put a ring on it. Consumerism is here to stay.
Your CEO knows consumerism is a critical, necessary shift, but how committed is she? Your title should make it clear who will champion health care consumerism, and reinforce the psychological safety zone to own this paradigm. A large percentage of CEOs identify consumerism as a critical shift in health care, and also admit they haven’t committed the resources necessary to harness the opportunity.
According to Modern Healthcare’s 2017 CEO Power Panel survey, 75% of CEOs expect more than 50% of their strategic plan to focus on consumerism within the next three to five years, while only 31% said they had at least one person whose sole responsibility is to focus on consumerism efforts.
In the midst of seismic change, leadership’s vision can be fissured. When we think about where health care marketing is headed, think about the critical role a chief consumer officer (or insert your self-expressive title here) plays in creating a clear vision for success with consumers.
3. Your title should amplify your voice and value.
You are more than the disciplines of health care marketing and communications. Your creativity, insight, data-harnessing skills, tenacity and hard-earned instincts deliver intellectual property assets and competitive advantage. Does your title broadcast the value you bring to the organization?
4. Your title should open solution valves and combat chronic insularity.
Health care suffers from chronic insularity. Your title should open up the valves to allow the brightest and best thinking to flow from the outside in, and vice versa. Does your title validate your consumer smarts, intellectual ignition and colleague connectivity? Speaking of which …
5. Your title should be a welcome mat to fellow silo-busters and innovators.
Does your title encourage the replacement of traditional processes with a more agile, cross-functional approach, investing in idea trials, learning, innovating and building organizational muscle for change?
You are instrumental in helping others overcome organizational inertia, eschew bureaucracy and avoid growth quicksand. Does your title encourage this progressive, collaborative approach?
6. Your title should be a strategic lightning rod.
Does your title attract mind power to solving consumer pain points and unmet needs?
If you are THE voice for consumers, for example, you place them at the epicenter of strategy development—for growth, for patient retention, for attracting and retaining health system talent. They are all consumers. And as you shape the approach to health care consumerism, other strategies align and marketing is not an off-to-the-side discipline.
Consumer insights need to be shared early and often, so they can percolate, permeate and perform—taking consumerism from lip service to real service.
This difference in the title enables us to be where we can matter—whether it is a financial, product, or clinical discussion—and more engaged in strategic decision making.
7. Your title should be a badge for wins.
Your competition is no longer across the street. They’re in the consumer’s pocket, on their kitchen counter and nightstand. As more competition enters your markets, every unique patient, every encounter is a win. The competition will only get more fierce and multi-faceted.
Does your title name the wins you drive home for the organization?
Health care marketing needs a serious rebrand. And this is a start. A title change is a signal to the rest of the organization about what’s important, what delivers competitive advantage and why you are critical to the organization’s success.
Title trends wax and wane in some industries, but chief consumer officer or chief customer officer are titles to consider in health care. If creativity is a part of your why, a title such as vice president of creative communications is a consideration. If you believe in the mission or there is a brand attribute to champion, then consider a title inspired by them.
If you bristle at the thought of a traditional approach, inspiration can come from tech and online banking, with a Chief Trust Officer title. Or Microsoft has a Chief Storyteller who is responsible for changing the brand perception through stories. If your role is expanding into digital health, a title like Chief Consumer Experience Officer bridges the new and traditional service and product models.
If your organization is a start-up or inspired by other nimble organizations, consider a title that is more about your skill than your position in a hierarchical structure. Many organizations are shifting to flattened structures or experimenting with holacracy management that is removing hierarchical titles altogether. At Zappos, you may be the lead link for the marketing circle of professionals containing a multitude of skill sets.
Ideas abound; take some time to reflect on your purpose and passion. And while you’re at it, think about the title “patient.”
You may have started this post with an eye roll or a side eye to your desktop zen garden and you were thinking, “Yes, health care needs one more change right now—my title.” I thank you for the swift kick of cynicism. But I’ve seen how titles have empowered my clients, inspired them and steeled them to own incredible change. Their substance is what delivers the difference, but every substance needs a name.
As for me, I’m changing my title to Chief Unicorn Strategist.