Promotions vs Title Changes

Today was one of those “update LinkedIN” days.  As of February 1st, my group all got new job titles.  The post below was one of those automatic “congratulate so and so on their promotion” that the platform does automatically (if you have the notify network option on).

This got me thinking, because in fact it was not really a “promotion” it was a title change and I started thinking through my career the last time I actually got a real promotion.

The Definition of Promotion

I looked it up just for the record and here is the most accurate definition for a job promotion.

“The action of raising someone to a higher position or rank or the fact of being so raised.”

I think when most people think about it this usually means you go UP in the organization in some way.  Usually you get more responsibility and more money.  I thought back in may career and I could count maybe 4-5 times in over 20 years where I actually got a true promotion.  I also personally don’t count a complete job  change as a promotion.  I personally always view that within the same company.

The Lateral Move

This seems more accurate for most people, especially in technology.  They call it many things.  Lateral move, lift and shift,  or just nothing but simply a title change with nothing else changing for you but the business card.  I honestly can’t count how many times this has been the case versus the pretty clear number of times I was actually promoted.  It got me thinking…

Why All The Mess?

Why does it seem there are so few actual promotions around our industry vs these lateral moves, or simple title changes?  Does it provide any sort of actual career path?  What truly is the benefit to the company and the employee?  In some cases is it more insulting than anything?  How about when these title changes turn into a complete political mess…..just over a name, not even for the full benefit of the promotion?

Promotions usually come as part of a review cycle, and in some cases require multiple approvals.  Nobody after the fact can argue it or take it from you.  These simple title changes seem to be meaningless.  They may even to be just updated in internal systems without any actual approval.

Establishing Ranks Seems Logical

At the end of the day if the responsibilities change, and the role/title does not match, I get that for sure.  One thing that some companies do REALLY well is have actual HR rank ratings.  For example when I joined VMware back in 2007 I came in as a “P4” and title of Senior Consultant.  Now I did my research there over the years to understand the “levels” because it made sense.  After a few years I got promoted to a P5 and eventually a P6.  At the end of the day, the business card title didn’t mean anything to me as much as the rank designation, because they was the promotion and forthcoming pay increases.

Whenever I asked people I always asked their rank, and you’d be surprised most people didn’t know.  I am sure since I’ve been gone it’s changed, but the point it ranks MAKE SENSE.  Without rankings there truly is no point in changing titles and it makes it almost impossible to promote people.  I am no HR expert, but i’d love to hear from some on this topic.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is active on the VMUG and event speaking circuit and is available for many events if you want to reach out and ask. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her promotional products as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years.

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