What to do about a title change at work
June 13, 2016 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I was a department manager. My company was recently acquired by a much larger company that doesn't have my department. I went from being "Deli Manager" to "Store Leader," which, to me, sounds made up and childish. Is it reasonable for me to be annoyed by this, and should I pursue it?

I mentioned it to a couple of higher ups and they seemed to laugh it off like it was funny. I just think putting "Store Leader" as opposed to "Deli Manager" does not sound as.. impressive, I guess? It's not even accurate, because I have nothing to do with the store front.

We're in the process of a transition so my old title doesn't exist at this company. I didn't receive my pay raise for a month because pay roll didn't understand why someone with the title of manager wasn't salaried. It's a little bit of a clusterf***, to be honest.

Is it reasonable for me to be bothered by this? Should I push harder to get my old title back?
posted by blackzinfandel to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Job titles don't actually mean much.

1. When someone, outside of work, asks what you do, tell them the title you want (Store Manager?)
2. When applying for new jobs, use the title from the job description, or a close approximation of the two. (this doesn't work if you're going from being a Deli Manager to a Web Designer, just fyi)
posted by INFJ at 12:24 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think you're burying the lede here -- you should be leveraging your ambiguous title/position to lock in a salary ASAP!!
posted by acm at 12:30 PM on June 13, 2016

I went through this same exact situation. You will not get your old title back because it doesn't exist at the company now and getting an HR department to create a new title/job description is basically like asking them to scale the walls of hell (in my experience). To answer your questions: yes, it is completely reasonable for you to be bothered by this but unfortunately, that doesn't mean anything will change.

There's literally nothing stopping you from continuing to use your old title in your email signature, your resume, LinkedIn profile, your whatever else. If you're applying for jobs you can include the new title in parenthesis in some of these cases if you feel like someone calling for a reference would be confused by what's on file versus what you listed, but seriously -- there's no rule that what you use as your title has to be what's on file with HR.

Follow up like hell on the pay thing -- that's something that should not happen and you should see swift, immediate action with the raise from HR/your managers/payroll with a retroactive payment for your raise for the missing month and proper pay going forward. But the job title is just one of those sucky side effects to being part of an acquisition.
posted by kate blank at 12:30 PM on June 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Job titles are generally pretty BS. On a resume/job interview, what matters are your responsibilities and accomplishments. You could easily put "managed deli department" or words to that effect as the first bullet point under your job title, or, since your title changed without your responsibilities changing, you could write your job title as "Department Manager/Store Leader.

In casual conversation, your job title is whatever you think best conveys the scope of your job to whoever you're talking to. Call yourself the Deli Manager if managing the deli is what you do.

Pick your battles here. A big chain grocery is not going to hand out custom job titles, and you're not going to look good if you push for that—it'll look like you're making a mountain out of a molehill. I agree that "Store Leader" is a bullshit, meaningless job title, but oh well. Lots of people have stupid job titles.

Save your energy for things like making sure they back-date your pay raise correctly. That kind of thing is worth raising a stink about. A title change (even a dumb one) is not.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:32 PM on June 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

It is totally reasonable to be bothered by this, but I don't think it is worth your time and energy trying to change things. At big companies like this, it can take a lot to change a job title and you are unlikely to succeed. (Maybe one reason this bigger company uses "leader" is that they reserve the title "manager" for their salaried employees? If so, it will be almost impossible to change things.)
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 12:41 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've noticed a trend across industries to replace "Manager" with "Leader". I don't think it has anything to do with salaried/hourly/contract, I think it just has to do with general HR fashion trends. When I first started hearing it, my first instinct was also to cringe a bit and think it's childish, but I've gotten used to it and I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were you. Corpspeakers gonna corpspeak.
posted by tybstar at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Agreeing that job titles are meaningless. Call yourself the Store Leader or Deli Manager, just as long as the paychecks cash.

Companies have been doing this title-change stuff for, oh, the last 20-30 years or more; for instance, you'll rarely find any more basic sales clerks, they're all officially 'retail associates'; ditto garbagemen becoming 'sanitation engineers'. The reasoning behind it is that this supposedly "empowers" employees, raising employee morale and making them feel more invested in the company's success...... of course, instead of paying for the high-priced business consultants that thought up these title changes, the companies could have just given their employees raises: I'm pretty sure that would've raised morale more that a silly title change!
posted by easily confused at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Store Leader is a common enough title that it will be understood by anyone in your industry senior enough to look at your resume.
posted by mikek at 2:31 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

You're totally allowed to be bothered by this if you want, but this is extremely common when it comes to companies acquiring one another. No, you should NOT push to get your old title back, because it's probably impossible and will make you look like somebody causing problems for 'no' reason to both higher-ups you know, and those you don't. If it bothers you that much, you may want to look for a job with another company that doesn't look like it's going to get acquired anytime soon.

Now, not getting your raise for a month, that's a different matter entirely, but also the kinda thing that happens when this is all sorting itself out. Getting that backdated difference in pay is something I hope you did. If not, definitely spend energy on that instead of this title thing.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:44 PM on June 13, 2016

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