Learning the Corporate Lingo

     We had some jargon at the law firm, but nothing like this.  My favorite term from the law firm was “beauty contest,”which is when a law firm puts on a presentation for a prospective client.  I picture a dozen fleshy, middle-aged men wearing Speedos and parading around a conference table.  Yikes.

 Corporations take euphemisms to an entirely new level.

This is why I have so much trouble in a corporate environment – I just want to say it like it is.  Also, for some reason, business folks love to turn nouns into verbs.  As someone who respects good grammar, this drives me crazy (no pun intended.)   Here are a few of my favorite terms, and my take on what they really mean. Again, these are just my opinions.
Share a few thoughts with you —  I disagree with you and I want to explain why you are dead wrong.
I’m not comfortable with this – I disagree with you but I don’t have the guts to tell you why.  Can also mean I really don’t want to do what you are telling me to do, but I don’t want to come out and say it.
Question Around —  “around” replaces “about.”  According to The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary (www.theofficelife.com), it is supposed to be a “softer, more tangential approach,” but I find it fucking annoying.
Org Review  — when the managers sit around a conference table with their boss and lobby for their favorite employees’ performance rating.    If your manager does a good job selling your virtues, you get a better rating.  This takes place in September.  In December, employees fill out their self evaluations.  By this time, however, it is too late too influence the ratings since they have already been decided.  See Check the Box, below.
Missed Opportunity  — if you don’t do what your boss tells you to do, no matter how inane,  it will come up in Org Review and your performance rating will suffer.
Infrastructure adjustments ahead of volume declines— the company is going to lay off employees before the company starts losing revenue.
Corporate Responsibility– a bunch of nice words and pictures on the company website designed to placate the ninnies who don’t understand that the purpose of a corporation is to make money and not to save the world.  See Check the Box, below.
Culture of Compliance  — see “Corporate Responsibility”
Speaking with one voice – saying what management tells you to say.
Efforting – a classic example of a noun turned into a verb.  It means trying to do something that is difficult, if not impossible, but if you don’t try, it will be a Missed Opportunity.
Solutions – the products or services the company sells.  It’s no different than products or services, but someone decided it sounds better.
Execute with Quality – get the frigging job done on time and under budget or it will be a Missed Opportunity.

Tone at the Top  — a new way of saying a fish stinks from the head down.

What’s the Ask—what the hell do you want from me?

Action Item—something you have to do or else it will be a Missed Opportunity

Dialog— to talk or speak.  Why can’t we just say talk or speak?

Backburner—we aren’t going to do this project after all.  So all that work you did over the past few weeks?  Trash it.

How much do you have on your plate?  — How much work do you have right now because I want to dump this turd of project on you.
Best Practices – the way the manager likes to do things.
Think out of the box – finding a new way to do something, unless it is a Best Practice, in which case you better not mess with it.
Seeking new opportunities – getting fired
Talent —they’re people.  Just call them people for crying out loud.
Innovation strategies

  — new ways to make money.  If the innovation strategies don’t work, there will be more Infrastructure Adjustments and some Talent will be Seeking New Opportunities.

Alignment – Conformance with the company’s strategic initiatives, mission, values, goals, etc.   Being in alignment is important unless you want to end up Seeking New Opportunities.

Buy in – agreement.  Sort of like Alignment but usually refers to whether management will agree to a new idea or project.  It all depends on whether management is able to Think Outside the Box.

Check the box – when you do something just for the sake of doing it, so you can take it off your list of Action Items.   It’s something that really doesn’t matter; for example, doing your self-evaluation in December when management decided your performance rating in September.  See Org Review.  Not to be confused with Think Outside the Box.

Career Limiting Move—speaking honestly to management.   They really don’t want to hear it.  Can lead to Seeking New Opportunities.

Throw under the bus—what your boss or colleague does to you when she doesn’t want to take the blame for something stupid that she did.  Also what happens during Org Review if an employee has made a Career Limiting Move. (There will be a lot of blog entries about this!)

Town Hall – a meeting with management where the CEO asks if there are any questions and no one speaks up for fear of making a Career Limiting Move.

Run this to ground – find the answer that management wants to hear.  Do it fast too because the VP already told the CEO that this could be done and we don’t want the VP to lose face. Work all weekend if you have to. (Another blog entry topic.)

Verbiage—they’re called words, dammit, call them words.

Work-life balance—when you get your work done you can go home.

Hard stop—the time when a meeting has to end because the manager wants to go see his kid play basketball.

Dead wood—an employee who is terrible at his or her job but the manager does not want to go to the trouble of documenting the problem or dealing with HR in order to fire him.  Better to wait until the next Infrastructure Adjustment.

Face time – time spent in the office goofing off but looking like you are working.  Done to avoid having to Seek New Opportunities.

High level it – put three bullet points on a Power Point presentation because the VP doesn’t like to read long documents.

Deep dive—do more than put three bullet points on a Power Point presentation, but not too much more because the VP doesn’t like to read long documents.

Interface—same as dialog; in other words, to talk to someone.

I don’t have a dog in this fight– I don’t care what you do.  Go interface with someone else.

Disconnect—I have no idea what you are talking about because of all the corporate-speak you use.  Can we dialog some more and get into alignment?

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