Planning Titles

Dear Management Doctor:

Do you have any good examples of planner title classifications? I don't like the Planner I, II, III structure since it's not clear if I or V is higher or when Planner II, for example, is used on a business card it's not obvious if that position is the top of the structure or at the bottom. The other common set of titles - Senior Planner, Principal Planner and Chief Planner - also seem confusing since it is hard to tell which has greater responsibility. Any suggestions?

Ron Miller

Dear Ron:

I like to distinguish between titles the personnel department or civil service needs and what is used for customers. For customers, I like titles that sound impressive - Project Manager, Director of Special Projects, Supervising Planner, etc. For civil service, I'd stick with the title used in many communities, i.e., Planner I, II, III, IV, V, or Junior Planner, Assistant Planner, Associate Planner, Senior Planner, Chief Planner. These titles can be useful for salary comparison and recruiting. Also some planners may need to have had one of these titles for their resume and their next job. Why not have some fun with this and let your planners suggest titles they like? I hope some of our readers will add their thoughts.

The Management Doctor

Reader Responses

Sounds like a topic that everyone will have their own opinion on. The Planner I, II, III thing has always sounded too bureaucratic to me. I personally prefer the titles; Associate Planner, Assistant Planner, Principal Planner, Deputy Director, Director, etc. Guess I'd rather be a name than a number that may mean absolutely nothing to anybody, except where they are in the pecking order.

Good luck.

Steve Foote, Community Development Director
City of Gulf Shores

We use Planner 1, II, III, etc., but the planning division of the Community Development Department is called "Division of Growth Management" and so the head planner is titled "Chief, Division of Growth Management." It's less boring and permits us to get the term "growth management" in front of the developers and the public on a regular basis.

Bob Atallo, AICP, Director
Community Development Dept, City of Madison, Alabama

On the subject of titles, I agree with Mr. Foote's summation. I was recently promoted to Director of Planning and it is my intention to change the titles (Planner I, II, etc.) to Planner (entry), Planning Officer (middle level), Senior Planner and then Deputy Director, Planning. Or something along these lines.

Kenneth Ebanks Director of Planning,
Cayman Islands Government

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