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Topic Title: What's in a Job Title ...
Topic Summary: Advise re Job Title Implications
Created On: 15 April 2011 07:54 AM
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 15 April 2011 07:54 AM
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jonmitch

Posts: 2
Joined: 29 November 2002

Hello Everyone,

I'm looking for a little advice here ...

I had held the position of "Chief Engineering Manager" for a small company for approx 4 years. The word "Manager" at the end of the title was always a bit of an oddity as there wasn't an awful lot of managing to do - I was heading up the Engineering team (which consisted of just me), and more critically the General Manager did not delegate much if any real management to me anyway. I guess that was just his management style.

Back at the end of last year, however, most of the staff from that company ( my General Manager and all above him) got transferred under the TUPE rules to our main client. All has been going quite well, but there's a couple of things that worry me ....

My new immediate boss and I have had discussions about my Management skills. He has noticed that I am struggling here slightly. Although the new job is in theory exactly as per the old one, the management style of my new manager is very different from my old one (new manager is far less hands-on) - and as a result my weakness in management is becoming clear to both myself and my manager. He is being very supportive, and offering help and guidance - and even training courses - so I was quite encouraged. Quite necessary, though, as we are looking to expand the Engineering team from 1 (me) to 3 or more in the coming months.

Recently we have all been having the first of our "reviews" since joining the company - to be repeated annually or thereabouts. These are a fairly relaxed affair - in my case, as a member of the management team I was asked to write my own job description as well as help to write some others. However, during discussions with my new manager, he (strongly) suggested that my job title should change from "Chief Engineering Manager" to "Chief Engineer". Whilst he states that this is because, in his opinion at least, a Chief Engineer outranks a Chief Engineering Manager - I have concerns :

1) Obviously, with all the discussions about my Management weaknesses (which I do not dispute), I have concerns that he may be lining up to bring someone in above me and demote me.

2) Is the change in official job title, and for that matter agreeing a new job description, in any way negating or cancelling my rights under the TUPE transfer process ?

It might not be worth worrying about, but I'm a naturally suspicious person. After all, I'm an Engineer - I understand and trust machines, but sometimes people are a mystery to me !

Any thoughts and advice gratefully received.

Thanks,

Jon

 15 April 2011 11:31 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

I'm not an expert on the TUPE rules at all, but my understanding is that these cover your basic terms and conditions of employment i.e. salary, hours, location etc. It reads from your note as if these are unchanged.

Regarding changing job titles and perceived status: your new employer will be as free to do this as your old employer was. What this means in practice is that if your employer has decided that your job title has changed that is pretty much up to them. And to quite a large extent they can even change your role description to another at the same level.

If, however, you feel that employer has actually demoted you without adequate cause then you do have a recourse which is to sue them for constructive dismissal. These cases (as I understand it) do not often succeed, the employer has got to have been spectacularly negligent in how they dealt with you for you to have a strong enough case. And, in any case, the amount of compensation you can get in these cases is really not that large, plus you then have the problem of job hunting without a decent reference from your last employer.

So the best route, as always, is starting with a discussion. Express your concerns, and have clear in your own mind what your options are. In particular you may like to consider whether another company would employ you with the title "manager", remembering that employment decisions are not made on your previous job title but on what you can actually show that you did.

Sorry, I'm not sure that's very encouraging, but equally keeping your present position with a change of title may not actually be that bad a deal.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert

Edited: 15 April 2011 at 11:38 AM by amillar
 15 April 2011 12:27 PM
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jonmitch

Posts: 2
Joined: 29 November 2002

Hi,

Thanks Andy for the pretty comprehensive response.

Sounds like I'm reasonably safe on the TUPE side of things - although the TUPE regs did seem a little ambiguous when I read through them.

As for demotion / constructive dismissal, I don't think I'd have a case there even if I wanted to go down that route. Although I am, with the support of my employer, enrolling in courses to improve my management skills, I do freely acknowledge that this is currently an area of personal weakness.

Final question, if anyone has an opinion ....

Which title do people think is the higher position ? Chief Engineer or Chief Engineering Manager ? I realise that it could vary depending on the industry, but a good feel of what the general opinion is would be good.

Thanks,

Jon
 19 April 2011 09:47 PM
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dlane

Posts: 689
Joined: 28 September 2007

I have been through transfer of companies with TUPE 3 times with the last one being in 2001 so I am a little rusty on the regs.

I believe however that TUPE does allow a company to make changes to roles and reponsibilities with the agreement of those being transfered if there is a business need to make those changes and that certainly happened to me under one occasion. That particular position was also represented under a collective agreement with a union and they could do nothing about the changes.

If i remember correctly my actual job title and description has changed 4 times over the last 10 years due to company restructuring.

The rules have also changed on constructive dismissal a few years back and anyone now trying to go down this route must have first gone through the company's grievance procedure. You also tend to find that constructive dismissal is built up on a number of actions the company have taken against an employee that build up to the employee being forced to leave. It is unusual for it to be based upon one individual act that you seem to be describing here.

I also agree with Andy that when you review CVs and interview people you don't usually look too much at the job title unless it is glaringly obviously wrong - I once had someone apply for a job as an Electrical Technician and he was a van driver for the local electrical factors. There are so many wonderfully creative job titles now that I have come across that it can be very difficult to relate them to their actual responsibilities.

From my experience I would probably place the 2 job titles as being at an equal level but I would think that a person working as a 'Chief Engineer' would be primarily responsible for technical issuses, signing off designs etc. I would also probably expect them to be Chartered. They may or may not have subordinates.

On the other hand a 'Chief Engineering Manager' means to me someone who is responsible for management of a section. They will have a team to manage that will provide them with the technical resource they require. They will be more concerned with high level strategy and procurement than specific technical issues.

I would be inclined to ask some of those within your company of their opinion as if they saw the change in your job title as being demotion then that could cause you issues and may also give you cause for a genuine grievance.

It probably also depends upon which direction you want your career to go in. If you are inclined towards a more technical role then the change would perhaps be better, but if you want to enter more into the management arena then it may not be so good.

Good luck,

Donald Lane
 20 April 2011 04:42 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Absolutely to all the above. If both titles existed in the same company I would see the Chief Engineer as having ultimate technical responsibility for an area, and the Engineering Manager as managing the resources / timescales (and the Chief Engineering Manager as being in charge of all the other Engineering Managers). In terms of "seniority" it could go either way.

There is a bit of a myth that there is an industry standard for job titles, every company I have worked for (or been involved with) has made them up on the fly - often just to try and stop someone from leaving or to make a job advert look more appealing. Even the title "Director", which may be thought of as having legal implications, can be applied in different ways, and as for "Manager: just try typing that into a job search engine and it's amazing what it comes up with. We complain that the title "Engineer" is misused: "Manager" is possibly misused and abused far more!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
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