What’s in a job title?

Well quite a lot when you think about it. So many people take a lot of pride in their job title, it defines who they are professionally.

But job titles and job descriptions can also be a restraint. In defining what we do do, it is also inherent what we don’t do.

I’ve certainly worked in organisations where the bulleted list of the job description can become an individual’s mantra. And if they do more than that, it is somehow seen that they have developed and are worthy of a promotion… junior, to mid-weight, to senior, whatever those actually mean other than years of service.

Rethinking the team

As we began hiring more and more people for the team at Zest, we came across a lot of good people who weren’t necessarily right for the roles we anticipated, but who we liked a lot.

And we found it really hard when recruiters asked us to define exactly what we wanted, to the extent that we began to refuse to write job descriptions just for the sake of it.

So slowly we built a team out of bits and pieces, so to speak, and recruited people rather than jobs.

We hired someone whose predominant experience was as a brand designer, to help oversee our creative output and QA processes, because she had the right energy to help us do more, and do it better.

We hired a .NET developer whose portfolio showed a clear eye for UX, and he now leads most of digital design work, whilst proving to be an absolute speed demon at front end development

We hired someone with a background in SEO, but who wanted to get more involved in development, and six months on he’s leading development on websites with over 1 million visits a month.

I met a young chap down the pub who was looking for a student placement, and 18 months on he’s still with us and blowing us all away with his technical wizardry and resilience.

The self-organising team

So that’s why on our team page you’ll see no job titles, we all bring a range of skills and personality traits to the table.

The client’s requirements are the starting point, we then collaborate to ensure we have all the capabilities to cover those requirements and understand our responsibilities for that specific job.

When workloads get heavy, or where there are gaps, enough of us have enough strings to our bow to help out wherever we can. Most of us can do UI development, a couple of us are good copywriters, a couple are pretty handy with a camera. We all test and evaluate each others’ work.

There’s never a moment where someone in the team isn’t looking to see what else they could do to help the team, rather than limiting themselves. It allows us all to contribute to the creative process and for our employees to feel more of their skills are being used rather than constricting them.

The funny thing is that in 15 years of agency life, this dynamic has never really been apparent to me before, even in truly agile development team. And I must admit it’s a testament to the relative youth, enthusiasm and downright warm, fuzzy love the team has for each other rather than any explicit planning on my part.

So this is me… Digital evangelist, occasional copywriter, sometime email marketing wizard, frustrated creative and coffee guzzler. Drop us a line if you think you’ve got a few strings to your bow that can make us better – [email protected]