Culture Notes: Indians Love Their Job Titles!

“Indians tend to be very career-oriented and want to climb the ladder fast. I have a cousin who has been a Cobol programmer for the last 35 years,” said Rita Terdiman, principal of consulting firm Conscient, at a seminar on change management. “Most Indian engineers expect to move into managerial roles after five years.” Indians attach immense significance to job titles. Flat structures are not welcome.

Indian Mindset

Traditionally Indians have always assumed that a designation signifies career growth. When conducting business with Indian BPOs, you need to keep in mind that a change in job profile is welcome — especially when it’s accompanied by a new — perhaps snazzy — designation. Titles such as “deputy director,” “deputy assistant director,” and even “additional deputy director” are indicators of this very trend.

Alias: Manager!

eFunds India International, to satiate the ego of a four-year-promotionless employee finally elevated him to the rank of team coach. His role — an interface between the team leader and team members. No change in salary though! The company acted out of pure self-gain!

In another instance an ex-employee of Sitel, a BPO based in Mumbai, was given the designation of “outbound specialist,” evoking admiration from his friends and family. Though the salary remained the same, it allowed him certain leverage in future job searches.

According to the HR manager of an IT outsourcing company, the job title suffix ensures identity in the organization and society. The employee isn’t really concerned with a change in job profile; it is the change in title that is of paramount importance!

Be Creative!

A company like Convergys has two designations between team leader and team member, which goes like this: team member, senior team member, team coach, team leader. Faced with the loss of experienced employees, it would be tactical to pacify them by attaching tags such as team coach, night manager or team manager against their names. In an industry fraught with attrition worries, it is, indeed, one of the simpler solutions you can try.

The social pressure forces Indians to often demand these kinds of labels. A “technical” associate will evoke a more positive response than a mere “call center associate.” Essentially, a layman may not even bother to establish the difference between the two. Go ahead and get yourself a “Fun manager,” “Food manager” or “principal organizer” and gauge the results.

…And Make Merry!

Rachita Maker, HR manager for Pangea, takes a contradictory stand and says that her company doesn’t change the structure of the organization to cater to a particular demand. According to her, the company should convince the employee instead.

Considering the economies of retaining an employee vis-ˆ-vis introducing a new title, companies have to decide what is more important. Keeping employees satisfied is an extremely effective retention tool, so why hesitate? Introduce new job titles! The more the merrier!

In a Nutshell

  • Job titles are extremely important for Indians.
  • It gains them respect within the organization and society.
  • Creating new designations can be used as a tool to retain employees.
  • Don’t be afraid of creating new job titles!