Derek Stockley provides insight into the difficulties involved in choosing a name that accurately describes what you do.
The moving target
What business am I in?
When I started work, my activities revolved around training. If people asked me what I did, I said I was a Training Officer. Yes, I was also involved in "personal development", but when I used the term "training" everyone understood what I meant.
Over the years, training has been significantly extended through the impact of new approaches such as e-learning. A broader focus has developed.
Specialisation has also occurred, for example, some people focus purely on instructional design.
People are searching for a word or phrase that better describes the techniques, methods and technology that cover the full range of activities.
ASTD, which dropped its full title of American Society of Training and Development in 2000, now describes itself as an association of workplace learning and performance professionals.
Over the years, we have progressed from training to learning and development, in much the same way as "personnel" changed to "human resources" and now "human capital". We went from training to human resource development to learning. Along the way, we included specialist terms like instructional designer.
As the broader aspect of the impact of training came into focus, the importance of performance also emerged. Hence the ASTD emphasis on learning and performance.
But it is not only the broadening of training that presents problems when I describe what I do.
Job roles broaden over time
Although my original interest was training, my activities also extended into project and general management. Internal and external consulting then followed.
Along the way I developed skills in human resource management, computer system development, website development and so on.
So how do I describe myself? What are my marketing messages?
At the moment, I have many titles/roles - it depends on what my clients want and need.
Consequently, you can use a variety of titles in the search engines like Google to find my website. If you include Melbourne in the search term, eg. "human resources consultant melbourne", you will probably find me.
In the meantime, I continue my search for the "perfect" title or description.
Currently, in a general sense, I describe myself as a trainer, facilitator and consultant. This description outlines the different approaches I can adopt, depending on the needs of the assignment.
The broader picture
An example of a good change has been the switch from "supervisor" to "team leader", provided that the organisation culture and mode of operation has also changed along with the title. Supervisors tell, team leaders provide leadership and co-ordination. Greater participation and involvement of team members means greater job satisfaction.
What about you? Has your title changed over the years?
Are you happy with your current title? Does it accurately describe what you do?
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