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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Management Speak

Anyone who is in paid employment or who has any interest in news stories will be aware of the strange expressions which become common currency - especially amongst managers. The latest one seems to be 'across the piece' - meaning, I think, across the whole organisation, territory etc. We had thought it was peculiar to our manager and we'd all got to the stage where we cringe when he uses it. Then a couple of days ago I heard a politician being interviewed on television use it - I think it was Jaquie Smith. So obviously this is the phrase du jour. We will have to add it to our 'bullshit bingo'.

In case this hasn't reached your neck of the woods this consists of a piece of paper divided up like a bingo grid with a popular phrase in each square which you can take into boring meetings. You then listen for all the usual management speak and cross off each expression as it's used. Our version is a bit out of date now as it has such things on it as: It's not rocket science; we'll run this up the flag pole and see who salutes it; quick wins; low hanging fruit etc etc. Some of the expressions I like - and probably annoy other people with them, but most of them become so irritating it's difficult to sit through a meeting without becoming totally wound up.

My least favourites are: heads up (making people aware of something in advance); 'Happy to discuss' - in an e-mail when you've just told someone to do something they don't want to do and of course 'across the piece'.

While I'm moaning - I dislike anyone who tells me I'm being negative when I'm simply not agreeing with management. What I'm saying may not be politically correct or in accordance with the party line but it is NOT automatically negative because of that - it might well be very constructive, just not what the powers that be want to hear.


kcm said...

What gets me is being told I'm being negative when in fact all I'm doing is either (a) playing Devil's Advocate to make people think or (b) actually being realistic rather than saying "yes of course we can do it" and then failing. Managers! Bah, humbug!

Anne Brooke said...

Fabulous - still laughing - love that bullshit bingo game!!!



Jilly said...

kcm - yes that annoys me as well. There seems to be a perception that any criticism is negative. Anne - yes it has amused us at some of our more boring meetings

NAM said...

I doubt there's any place of employment that wouldn't end up with a fairly full sheet of those terms, though in the museum we do seem to be mercifully free of them at present. Having fewer meetings helps, of course!

Most hated for me is still proactive - no,you mean active. Sigh. And the line manager who used to use that one to beat me up with seldom failed to accuse me of being cynical, when I was being, yes, that's right, realistic. Still, I think one of the best I've ever heard (from a senior IT manager) was "I don't trust one-pass analysis" - translated, that is to say "You won't get a straight yes or no out of me however important the question is"! Ggrrr.