The Superfluous Position
Make sure every title has a necessary and definable role.
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This story first appeared in the July 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.He was an editor. That's how it started. I worked at a small multimedia company that publishes tourism guides. Six months after I started, this editor was given a new role: creative manager of content. No one knew what this job meant--or what he would be required to do. But we all knew he thought he was better than us, more creative than us. His new job, he thought, was to teach us to be more creative.
Bad bosses in history (and film)Bernie Ebbers, Chairman of WorldCom
. Claim to fame: Mississippi motel-chain owner turned telecom tycoon
. Claim to infamy: $11 billion accounting slip-up; conspiracy; fraud
. Current status: Inmate #56022-054, Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution, Oakdale, Louisiana
Genghis Khan, Emperor of the Mongols
. Claim to fame: United nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia
. Claim to infamy: Conducted reign of terror
. Current status: Unmarked grave, Asia
Bill Lumbergh, Division VP, Initech (in 1999's Office Space)
. Claim to fame: Immaculate TPS reports
. Claim to infamy: Fostered soul- crushing corporate culture
. Current status: Inside the warped genius mind of Mike Judge
I wasn't the only one who thought his new position was absurd. We were all a little irritated by the new creative manager of content. No one said anything to our department director, but we wondered how our co-worker landed this newly created position. It probably had something to do with him being a pet to the higher-ups. The president of the company--or "innovation director," as he was titled--absolutely loved the soon-to-be creative manager and his brainstorming. When the bosses heard his shameless self-promoting, they bought into it and puffed it up. He was due for a promotion, but the company used him as an experiment instead.
The biggest problem was the role itself. He didn't have a clear job description. He was constantly looking for something to do, for justification for his ridiculous title. Soon he became simply "the brainstorming guy," and he was only working on one book while the rest of us were working on three. He was trying to find his niche in the company, and the rest of us were doing the actual work. We were trying to edit books, and he was handing us a diagram . . . that he worked on for half a day . . . with a flowchart on how to brainstorm . . . in the cubicle next door . . . which was the Idea Lab.
--As told to Scott Gornall
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