When a person moves from labor into management they enter a whole new realm of communication, including vocabulary.
Quite often I hear them talk about and ridicule ‘biz-speak’ or ‘corporate-speak’. It’s not that they cannot grasp these concepts, it’s just that they have never experienced them. Some of them are meaningless to the blue collar manager; others you will want them to understand. Before you use words, phrases and acronyms be sure your audience understands them.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a comprehensive list. Nor is it all-encompassing. What I mean to say is – this is not the whole list.
- EBITDA – Oh, yeah, that’s the capitol of that country over in…where is it?
- Synergy – is that an explosive or bio-fuels? It’s teamwork. Teams communicate well, avoiding chances for miscommunication.
- “Drill down” – Huh? How deep do you want the hole in the ground, the board, the concrete? Investigate, study, keep digging much better.
- ROI – What, you can’t spell? ROY is my dog’s name. This is one of those that you will want to teach them about. Understanding ROI as it applies to their actions and business unit will help them make better decisions, and that will support the organization’s overall ROI and bottom line.
- Action items – A term that sounds more macho and businesslike than “to do” list. Use plain old “gotta get this done”.
- Bandwidth – just how much room ARE they going to take on the football field?
- Best practices – Sports?
- Paradigm – this isn’t the ante for a poker game. – Most often used as ‘paradigm shift’. The easiest thing I can up with for this is to simply say, and show them how to THINK DIFFERENTLY!
- Scalable – if you aren’t referring to fish, don’t use it. Say “Make it so that it can grow or shrink as we need”
- Cash flow – Actually this is a term you will definitely want to use after you demonstrate and they understand it. A word of caution – use a visual and interactive discussion with them to get them to understand the term. Once they understand it, then work through how their job or department affects cash flow. This should result in their understanding of the need for certain actions, such as timely invoicing which relies on such things as timely service ticket completion, customer signatures and expense report completions.
What to do?
If you feel the need to use words, phrases and acronyms, use this check list:
- Don’t use corporate speak or other words to show that you are ‘superior’. It only serves to embarrass yourself.
- If you can’t explain them, don’t use them. Not being able to explain a word doesn’t mean you don’t know what it means. Like the word ‘moron’. Everyone knows what it means, but how do you define it? Well, you could use words like ‘idiot’, but then you would have to define that word. Make sure they are defined and that your audience understands and agrees with that definition.
- If you can’t define it or explain it try making a game of it.
- Make it visual and memorable. I used several rolls of quarters, a couple of invoices and some field tickets to explain a simple version of cash flow to some IT field techs. Before the demonstration they didn’t understand why management was always on them about timely paperwork. They didn’t realize what it cost them personally to have to spend money on loans to make payroll. I also think that after the example they got a feeling that it may not be quite fair to corporate to have to start the next week in the hole.
- Remember – you are NOT dealing with stupid people – or you wouldn’t have promoted them, right?
I am curious. What other words, phrases or acronyms would you add to this list? Leave a comment below.