The 8 Douchiest Job Titles for 2014

Zappos announced at the end of last year that they would be moving to a Holacracy. There will be no managers, no hierarchy and especially NO JOB TITLES. No shit? (It’s not a coincidence to me that Holacracy is just one letter away from Hola Crazy!)

Good luck, Zappos. Clearly, you haven’t seen the episode of Cheers where Rebecca Howe is able to quell the cries for raises by offering job titles to Sam, Woody and Carla. Yes, I referenced that gem in my first version of The 10 Douchiest Job Titles published in 2012. Because Zappos’ asinine move (asinine in that no other company could duplicate it without guaranteeing disaster), I wanted to update that post from a couple of years ago. I still don’t put titles on my business cards, but sites like LinkedIn still require them, which sometimes leads to some silly entries.

Given LinkedIn’s obsession with titles, I decided to create this updated list from my own network on the business-focused social networking site (1st, 2nd or 3rd level connections – which I think, statistically, includes everyone in the world). (On a side note: there were certainly fewer douchie titles present than in years past – leaving me with just 8 instead of 10. This is a great sign for common sense and ease of communication. Let’s hope this trend continues.)

Do you have a douchie title or do you know someone with a douchie title? If so, please share them here. For now – in honor of the No-Titles Zappos Team – here is my updated list of The 8 Douchiest Job Titles of 2014:

8. Talent Scout – I get it. You like to call your employees “talent” and you’re always scouting for great talent. Unfortunately, the title of Talent Scout often conjures up images of an old Hollywood “casting couch” – certainly nothing your business wants to be associated with, right? How about you just do a better job at recruiting and hiring as a “Hiring Manager” and leave the cute titles to those in show business?

7. Corporate Storyteller – Not sure if this one means more Corporate Historian or Corporate Liar; though I think I’ll go with the more highly specialized “Guy Who Gives Our 15-Second Elevator Pitch.” What a douche.

6. Customer Experience Director – This one made the 2012 list at Number Eight (as Director of Customer Experience) and moved up a couple of spots this year with a rearranging of the words. As I wrote in 2012: Taking care of customers should be Job One for everyone at your company; but if your business actually names someone their Customer Experience Director, your front line employees are likely just paying lip service to the actual customer experience. Of course, that’s not what makes this title so douchie. What makes this title really douchie is that the role can only be filled by complete and utter douchebags. Think about it: have you ever met a Customer Experience Director who didn’t annoy the fuck out of everyone around them? Sickie sweet phoniness does not make for a great customer experience.

5. Chief Experience Officer – Before you point up to Number Six and say these are the same thing, I’ll stop you with this thought: What experience is this douche the chief officer for? At least the douche holding the title Customer Experience Director is directing a known experience – that of the customer. The Chief Experience Officer, who confusingly has the same abbreviation as the Chief Executive Officer, must be in charge of all experiences within his/her company. This must include everything from making sure the toilet paper in the employee restroom isn’t sandpaper-like (a bad experience) to asking those with Flatulent Dyspepsia to not let loose in crowded company elevators (an even worse experience). Hmm, maybe I take it back; perhaps we all need a Chief Experience Officer at our respective workplaces.

4. Senior Vice President – Before you attack me with your knowledge that this title has been around for decades, let me say that this fact does not make the title of SVP any less douchie. (If anything, it qualifies it as extra-douchie given we’ve had decades to rid ourselves of it.) Senior VP, for the uneducated, is a title we give to someone we don’t plan to promote for real. They’re someone we’ve determined can never or should never be a C-Level leader at our company, but still someone we like well enough to keep around. Saying Senior Vice President is a bit oxymoronic, as the VP title really means “junior to the president;” so Senior Vice President must be “the senior junior to the president.”

3. Chief Listening Officer – Enough said. (And, no, I did not invent this one. Google it.)

2. Chief Information Officer (a.k.a. CIO) – This one is not so much douchie as it is idiotic and pretentious. The CIO title was created to give a C-Level title to someone who oversees the business’s information technology organization. That said, you’re probably wondering “Hey, wasn’t there already a perfectly good and usable C-Level title known as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) that fit the bill?” There was and is, in most sane companies. I can only guess that those who choose to go the CIO route are secretly wishing they were the head of some spy organization like the KGB. When said aloud, the title ‘Chief Information Officer’ totally sounds like someone who reported directly to Stalin. (By the way, anyone who dares to explain the differences between the CTO and CIO is just needlessly splitting hairs to justify a needless title.)

1. Thought Leader – Number One last time and Number One this time. To update what I wrote in 2012: The King of all douchebags, the “Thought Leader,” is a self-anointed position. Those who use this title to describe themselves really see their place in your industry as Socrates meets Einstein. They believe – generally because they have a below-average IQ – that they are both philosopher and genius. While the rest of us see the obvious for what it is, the self-proclaimed “thought leaders” point out the ordinary as though they’ve cracked the genetic code. Deep inside I think many “thought leaders” are truly just “do nothings” who gave themselves the title of “thought leader” because they don’t want to do any real work; they just want to regurgitate what others have published.