In the television news industry, I learned there are two words you don’t necessarily want to hear—shake up.
A “shake up” was when management decided to rearrange personnel to fit their current needs. The morning show producer may become the 5 p.m. producer, the 10 p.m. producer may become the noon show producer, etc.
You could always tell by the demeanor of the employee whether he or she believed the move was a promotion or demotion.
Those who thought they moved up in the hierarchy had an instant confidence about them. Meanwhile, those who perceived that they received a demotion sulked and started giving less effort to their finished product.
“Shake ups” weren’t always directly correlated with our talents. Sometimes management just wanted to try something new on a whim, sometimes we reorganized to adjust to someone’s new work schedule, and sometimes the more seasoned veterans were asked to move to the newscasts with lower ratings in hopes of raising viewership.
Then why was effort and attitude so directly correlated with a slight change in title?
Well, ego was probably a big part of that; but the other part was because some of the staff wrongfully built their identity around the title they held.
”Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Titles are made to distinguish your job from the next person’s, but it shouldn’t have so much clout that it affects how well you do your job.
Focus on the work you do — not the title you’re given — because your legacy won’t be what’s on your nameplate, it’ll be what you did while that nameplate was on your desk.