This story first appeared in Smart Company on 19 April 2012.
“She listed her job on LinkedIn as my ghostwriter,” reflected the journalist about his publishing business’ Gen-Y staff member.
The journalist’s lament reflects an unexpected corporate risk in social media; that of employees giving themselves grandiose and sometimes damaging job profiles.
Over the last 20 years, title inflation has been rife in the business world as corporations and government agencies doled out grandiose titles to soothe the egos of fragile management egos.
So it isn’t surprising that many of us succumb to the temptation to give ourselves a grand title online.
In the journo’s case a young graduate working as an editor in his publishing business listed herself as his ghostwriter, risking a huge dent to his credibility among other the lizards at the pub or the Quill Awards.
That business journalist is not alone, in the connected economy what would have been a quaint title on a business card or nameplate is now being advertised to the world.
Making matters worse, we now have tools like LinkedIn and other social media sites to check out a business’ background and who are the key contacts in an organisation.
So what your staff call themselves is now important. It can confuse customers, cause internal staff problems (“how come he’s an Executive Group General Manager?”), damage business reputations and quite often put an unexpected workload on a relatively junior employee.
In your social media policy – which is now essential in any business that employs staff – you need to clarify what titles your people can bestow upon themselves.
As well as making this clear to new staff, a regular web search on your business that includes all of the popular social media sites should be a regular task.
Just as economic inflation can hurt your business, so too can uncontrolled title inflation. Watch it isn’t affecting your operations.