Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Understanding Corporate Speak

Corporate Speak is a language like any other that must be learned in order to communicate effectively while on the job.   Some employees never do get it.  Really good managers rarely yell and scream to assert authority; but they do use carefully spoken language to influence decision making.    When a senior manager begins a sentence with, "I am very concerned about", the employee better understand that this is a serious discussion, not a debate about the issue.   This can be the equivalent of screaming at the employee.

Usually some directive will follow that conversation, whether obvious or not.  When a senior manager says, "It is your decision; but if I was making it, I would do it this way," that means do what the senior manager suggests be done.   This CEO Blogger is often amazed at how tone deaf some employees are in their daily dealings with other employees, or senior management.   Someone can be screaming at them in Corporate Speak and they are oblivious to what is being said to them because they just can't read between the lines.   Corporate Speak is also about Company Culture, which some employees just don't understand. 

And then, there is the stubborn employee, so set in his or her ways, that he or she just can't hear what is being said to them, no matter how blatant.  Eventually, this employee ends up being terminated for one reason or another.   Though they can be very smart, they are just plain politically stupid.   This CEO Blogger survived 8 very different bosses in six years, when I worked at Merrill Lynch, some of whom were empty suits because I understood and spoke Corporate Speak and Company Culture.  

If your boss must give you a direct order to do, or not do something, it means that you missed all the signals given in typical Corporate Speak.  It also means that you placed your boss in the worst possible position of having to be a blatant authoritarian leader, which is certainly not my preference.  When this happens, you are the big loser because your boss will think the less of you.  Listen carefully when your boss speaks to you.   Every conversation is a business conversation, even the ones about family, or small talk.   Learn to understand and communicate in Corporate Speak to be successful.   Otherwise, your corporate interactions are likely to be pretty unproductive and unpleasant and your career will be on a road to no where. 

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