Could Accounting Firms Operate Without Job Titles?

Read more from Michael Alter here and in the "Dollars and Sense" archive.
 
I'd imagine having no job title makes it difficult to explain what you do at parties.
 
"I'm a blank in the accounting department."
 
Doesn't quite sound right, does it? Yet some smaller firms have been experimenting with having no titles and even no managers, and now Zappos has shaken up the traditional management style by getting rid of all titles.
 
Zappos is using the Holacracy system of management
 
The idea behind going away with this standard way of managing a business is that you're getting rid of red tape, middlemen, and a lot of the bureaucracy that can sometimes slow a company's pace to a crawl.
 
We've all seen situations where people aren't living up to their titles. But is it the title that's the problem or the person? Having a great team is key to creating a successful business, and if you have people that aren't performing, it's going to hurt. At the end of the day, though, if you're the head of your firm, it's your leadership and hiring decisions that make the biggest difference.
 
Whether or not you want to continue using titles really depends on the culture of your company. Do you have enough of a free-flowing atmosphere where everyone will naturally take on their roles without this more stated structure? Or do you need that explicit level of organization?
 
And what do you do with things like business cards or resumes? Will it look strange when you hand out a card at a trade show with just your name on it? Do you make something up?
 
As tedious and bureaucratic as some corporate practices can be, they can also serve a purpose. If for nothing else than a quick way to identify who does what. It's good to see companies trying new things and innovating for the sake of efficiency. But for many of us, it's just not going to work.

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