Titles Matter – Part 2

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Titles Matter – Part 2

  • Great article! Years ago we had started a company and decided that since we did pretty much everything, we'd just not bother with titles on our business cards. That was an epic fail! We found that people get lost when they can't put you into a mental pigeon hole, so we made up titles that described some of what we did and moved on, but it was an interesting learning experience.

    Now my title says President, which helps in some cases, but in others it's a hindrance, like when I jump in on the support side to help out with database issues (Hey, it's nice to know I'm still useful...). Oh, and every salesperson seems to want to sell to the president (sigh)

  • I have found that when titles are vague/unclear, people will mentally assign you a title that suits whatever they want you to do for them. This may or may not be what you should be doing!

  • I find it especially difficult when, as an industry, there are different interpretations of the same role title. In this situation, once you understand what the role title means at a place you can apply your understanding across the board but every time someone is new to the place there leaves room for misunderstanding.

    I find that the terms Solution Architect and Technical Architect get used for different purposes in different places so much that I have had each of the titles at two different places whilst performing identical duties.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • How do people feel about Software Engineer vs. Software Developer?

  • wayne.jared (9/5/2014)


    How do people feel about Software Engineer vs. Software Developer?

    A Software Engineer knows and understands the theoretical engineering principles of software development and knows how to apply them using processes and practices.

    A Software Developer is not constrained by this definition but a professional should know what the best practices for their areas of expertise and how to apply them.

    Or any other definition because everyone will disagree 😉

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Personally.... My father's an engineer (mechanical). I know what goes into studying to be an accredited engineer. I will never use the title Engineer for myself (I'm not one)

    When, several years ago, my official title was "Database Engineer" I refused to use that title and made up one that I was more comfortable with and used that in email (wasn't important enough to have business cards at the time)

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • Andy, I think you just opened my eyes. I am one of those people who have always claimed that titles don't matter, and I never use it when introducing myself to vendors, clients, or even to new colleagues within my organization. I'm going to change that now - as you said, it's not about who outranks whom, but it just helps people build their mental model and know when to come to you for assistance or advice.

  • GilaMonster (9/5/2014)


    Personally.... My father's an engineer (mechanical). I know what goes into studying to be an accredited engineer. I will never use the title Engineer for myself (I'm not one)

    When, several years ago, my official title was "Database Engineer" I refused to use that title and made up one that I was more comfortable with and used that in email (wasn't important enough to have business cards at the time)

    Totally agree. Most people whose role is "Software Engineer" did not deserve that title regardless of how good they were at their job.

    If you cut corners then you are not an engineer. Cut costs? Yes. Corners? No.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • If you are the designated person who is expected to stand in for the role of organizational president, even if it's only required on rare occasions, then you should have "President" as one of your titles, even if your typical day job is sysadmining the database and triaging support calls.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • I asked because I am an Engineer myself (Mechanical) but have done software development for most of my career. I had always been on the 'it's not Engineering' side of the fence, but now I'm in the physical security industry and the practice is to call people who write software engineers, not developers. This is probably because in most companies in this industry, an R&D team of 10 might have 1-2 software people with the rest Engineers working on hardware, and even then the software developers are often Electrical Engineers.

  • You might fault me at this point for not communicating clearly enough, all I can tell you was that it wasn’t for lack of trying and felt a lot like describing red to someone who couldn’t see.

    Thank you Andy for mentioning this sticky point. Being an effective communicator can only take you so far because we cannot control how the other person catalogues information. It seems people don't remember things unless it appears to be "important" at the time, no matter how many times we repeat and restate ourselves.

    Also, we have some vague titles here like "Information Technology Integrator" which is supposed to be the liaison between IT resources and the business. Inevitably, certain IT staff are routinely trying to assign the "Information Technology Integrator" project management tasks.

    Regards

  • Gotta love the title "Chief Happiness Officer". 🙂

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • GilaMonster (9/5/2014)


    Personally.... My father's an engineer (mechanical). I know what goes into studying to be an accredited engineer. I will never use the title Engineer for myself (I'm not one)

    When, several years ago, my official title was "Database Engineer" I refused to use that title and made up one that I was more comfortable with and used that in email (wasn't important enough to have business cards at the time)

    I sort of approve of that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you could teach most so-called software engineers and some real software engineers too a few things about software engineering.

    I used to refuse to be have a title which included "engineer" because I thought of myself as first and foremost an applied mathematician even though much of what I was doing was really engineering and I had passed my instutution's (the BCS's) professional level 1 examination and been exempted from their level 2 examination as a result of my other (academic) qualifications. But then I became a Chartered Engineer and later a European Engineer (that's a pretty pointless qualification, I think) and had been approved by the Institution of Electrical Engineers as a mentor for formal training and mentoring of graduate engineers seeking professional membership, and eventually I joined the Institute of Electrical Engineers. At that point I realised it would be silly to argue about Engineer in a job title if my business card had "Eur Ing Tom Thomson CEng FIEE" on it so I ought to admit that somewhere along the line I had mutated from a mathematician into an engineer. After that of course no-one ever suggested a job title for me with Engineer in it :hehe:.

    I agree with the comment someone made about most so-called software engineers not being engineers; in general people with that job title are run-of-the-mill programmers. They would never think of using queuing theory to help predict performance or response latency or storage requirement in systems whose components communicate by passing messages, they generally haven't a clue how to generate random data with a particular distribution or even know that it is often useful to do that for simulation or for performance prediction or for testing let alone why it is useful for those things, and they usually believe that formal methods are valuable neither in design nor in testing (if indeed they have ever heard of formal methods at all) and they tend to think that error management is a bizarre concept rather than a central principla of engineering - and any one of those failings makes it clear that they are not software engineers (and having all those failings together, which seems to be the norm, indicates that they are not engineers of any sort).

    Tom

  • GilaMonster (9/5/2014)


    Personally.... My father's an engineer (mechanical). I know what goes into studying to be an accredited engineer. I will never use the title Engineer for myself (I'm not one)

    When, several years ago, my official title was "Database Engineer" I refused to use that title and made up one that I was more comfortable with and used that in email (wasn't important enough to have business cards at the time)

    Big thumbs up for this one. 'Engineer' has been borrowed by many professions because they think it adds mass to the job description, but an PE (practicing engineer, with a stamp) can get SUED for malfeasance when designs s/he's signed off on end up not performing. I'll grant 'software engineers' the same title when I see one get sued and have to pay.

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