Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Ha Ha Designation

In the beginning there were just two breeds of people: the Masters and the Slaves. As life got more complicated, the Master species realised that the only way they could extend their perpetual reign was by doling out designations by the dozen. Thus was born the corporate hierarchy that carved out the Slave species into an illusory pyramid of glorified executives who were essentially suits from outside but serfs from inside.

By labelling even flunkeys as Associate Deputy Assistant Vice Presidents, the Master class somehow cunningly managed to inflate egos and extract better performances. In times of recession, when the top management had only peanuts to offer to the monkeys, this Creative Designations Strategy worked like a charm.

Retrenchment Managers fired away to glory when they were re-designated as Change Magicians. Systems Supervisors were willingly chaining themselves to the computer when handed out the Digital Overlord business card. HR Heads forgot about bonuses when they were called Chief Happiness Officers.

But the bubble burst when a humble receptionist was tagged as  Director of First Impressions. At that tipping point, the Slave class realised that the joke was on them. They retaliated by creating a whole new sub genre of ‘Job Title Humour’ which successfully dismantled the farcical mask of designations.

Let’s explore the ludicrous practice of up-titling (grandiose titles for menial jobs) by applying it to our little world. Imagine re-labelling your cook as Stomach Delighter, would that butter her up or cheese her off? Try Vigil Ninja instead of Watchman. Would your Gurkha take it as a racial slur or a compliment? Would Mobility Director drive your driver mad or make him reach the destination faster?

My wager is that the cup of woes of the chaiwallah will only brim over if he’s called the Refreshments Honcho. Your friendly maid servant is not going to be impressed with Home Beautician. She will still kick up a ruckus and take you to the cleaners if you don’t give her a raise. By rebranding the peon as Micro Operations Manager, your electrician as Power Surgeon or the plumber as Liquidity Supervisor, you’re not giving him a promotion. You’re just calling him names.