What do you call your employees—employees?
Some companies have chosen to label their employees something other than employees. They call them team members, associates or other more endearing and personalized names and titles. With a little creativity, you can come up with a title for your employees, or even specific jobs, that can have a positive effect on the culture and experience that both the employees and your customers have with your organization.
At our company, Shepard Presentations, we’ve created some fun titles to describe what we do. For example, I am the Chief Amazement Officer. My assistant is the Director of Amazement. We want to be amazing for our clients as we teach them how to be amazing for their customers and clients. It’s in our email signatures and we get comments from our clients about these titles almost daily.
Starbucks calls the employees on their front-line “Baristas.” Friendly’s, a chain of ice cream stores, calls their employees who scoop the ice cream and make their delicious sundaes “Scoopologists.” The employees at the restaurant chain Pita Pit are referred to as the “Pit Crew.” You get the idea. These creative labels and titles will give you a sense or impression of the culture of the company.
I’ve heard of a number of companies referring to their receptionist as the Director of First Impressions. Some companies go as far as having a business card printed with the title on it for that person.
One of my favorite examples of a great title comes from Mike Yager, the Chief Cheerleader at Mid America Motorworks. Mike started his company in 1974. The company sells after-market parts for Corvettes and Volkswagens. Mike is known to walk around the headquarters in Effingham, IL complimenting his employees, “high-fiving” them for doing a great job and generally motivating his people to do outstanding work and deliver an amazing customer service experience to both the internal and external customers. Even though he has built and runs this amazing company, he views his most important job as being the cheerleader that motivates his team. His self-appointed title sets the tone for the culture.
While these different and whimsical titles or labels are fun, they can’t change the culture. Sure, they can create a feeling, but there has to be a management style and system to support it. Otherwise, it’s just lip service. If Mike Yager went around yelling at employees, he wouldn’t have the right to use the title Chief Cheerleader. If my assistant was unfriendly and apathetic toward clients she couldn’t hold onto the title of Director of Amazement.
So, have some fun and get creative. Come up with the titles you want to give yourself and the people you work with. Then be sure to live up to those titles.
Published: May 31, 2013