There is a lot of discussion these days about price inflation, but a friend sent me an article from the Economist which noted another type of inflation – job title inflation. Receptionists become Directors of First Impressions and undertakers become Directors of Last Impressions. At some banks, there doesn’t appear to be management below vice president.
There are many reasons why we see title inflation. The article notes that providing a new title provides some recognition of an employee’s efforts especially if the company is not providing sizable raises. Some businesses may feel that a fancy title may impress prospective customers. The article notes that “the currency of an inflated title quickly loses value. A senior vice-president is someone in middle management; an assistant vice-president is three years out of university; an associate vice-president has just mastered the alphabet. More and more words need to be added to connote seniority.”
One problem with title inflation is that it is hard to suppress once it has started. I suspect that employers are mostly well meaning when deciding on titles but in many companies, a title does not provide any information about the skills that the person may have because there isn’t any consistency.
My thoughts on title inflation are how I think about many labels. Do you remember the good old days when a 4.0 GPA meant that a student had perfect grades? Now GPA’s can go well above 4.0. For the most part, a job title, where someone went to school, or a GPA is just a data point to provide some information about a person very quickly. If we rely too much on these data points in our decision making, we do so at our own peril. For important decisions, we must put in the work to make sure we have a full understanding of the factors important to that decision.
Take care and stay safe.
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from the Coast Guard tender into darkness. His dive light illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still buckled in their seats, hair floating, eyes devoid of speculation. Missing from the crash site are the pilot’s flight bag, the plane’s black box, and the tenth passenger. But how? A collateral witness to machinations that can only bring him harm, Western is shadowed in body and spirit—by men with badges; by the ghost of his father, inventor of the bomb that melted glass and flesh in Hiroshima; and by his sister, the love and ruin of his soul.
Traversing the American South, from the garrulous barrooms of New Orleans to an abandoned oil rig off the Florida coast, The Passenger is a breathtaking novel of morality and science, the legacy of sin, and the madness that is human consciousness.